Garda Transport Numbers

Questions (32)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

32. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the numbers of Garda vehicles operational in the following years: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. [20845/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of Garda vehicles are a matter for the Garda Commissioner in the context of his identified operational demands and in the light of available resources.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the strength of the Garda fleet over the period referred to by the Deputy was as outlined in the table.

YEAR

FLEET TOTAL

2006

2,184

2007

2,305

2008

2,729

2009

2,814

2010

2,740

2011

2,623

2012

2,414

April 2013

2,497

The Deputy will be aware that an additional €3 million was made available to An Garda Síochána towards the end of last year which enabled the Force to procure a further 171 vehicles. This brought total investment in the Garda fleet in 2012 to €4 million and resulted in a total of 213 new vehicles being procured during the year. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the roll out of the most recently purchased patrol vehicles has been completed.

In addition to the investment provided in 2012, a specific allocation of €5 million has been provided for the purchase and fit-out of Garda transport in the current year. This represents a very considerable financial investment in Garda transport, particularly at a time when the level of funding available across the public sector is severely limited. It is a clear indication of my commitment to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, An Garda Síochána are provided with sufficient resources to enable them to deliver an effective and efficient policing service.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Questions (33)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

33. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current waiting times for Garda vetting in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20759/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the average processing time for Garda vetting applications for the years 2011 and 2012 was approximately 8 weeks. The current average processing time for applications is approximately 12 weeks from date of receipt, which was the average processing time for applications in 2010. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion.

All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process.

Following discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, sanction was granted for an additional 25 staff to be re-deployed from the Department of Agriculture to the Garda Central Vetting Unit. These personnel are currently undergoing training and will be operational within the vetting service as soon as possible.

Since I became Minister, it has been a priority for me that processing times should be kept to a minimum consistent with maintaining the overall integrity of the vetting system. This is an absolute necessity given the very important role of the vetting system. I am currently considering other measures which should have a positive impact on processing times.

Garda Training

Questions (34)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

34. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm his intention in relation to the continued operation of the Garda Training College in Templemore, County Tipperary; if he will confirm if his Department has conducted a risk assessment on the implications for the State of allowing the total number of active Garda personnel to fall below 13,000; if he will share this information with Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20700/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I would like to assure the House that the Garda College remains fully open as the main training centre for the Garda Síochána. The Chief Superintendent in charge of the College, and the members of the team there, develop, coordinate and direct all training interventions up to the most senior ranks. The College provides operationally focused training across a range of areas including firearms training, driver training, public order training, operational skills programmes, management development programmes and of course Garda Reserve training. In 2012 training was provided in the College for over 5,000 members of the Garda Síochána, and I can confirm for the House, and all those connected with the Garda College, that the College will continue to provide a centre of excellence for training for the Garda Síochána.

In relation to Garda strength, I have said that I would not like to see Garda strength fall below the level of 13,000, and I will bring proposals to Government shortly in relation to maintaining Garda operational strength. It is of course the case that a resumption of Garda recruitment, at a time when both overall headcount and the size of the pay bill in the public service must be reduced, would have financial implications that must be managed within the overall resources available to Government. In that context, it is important that the current impasse in relation to the LRC proposals on saving €1 billion from the public service pay bill, including €300 million this year, is first resolved. As Deputies will be aware, the LRC is currently exploring with all the parties concerned the potential for such a resolution, and of course I hope that there is a positive outcome to that process.

An Garda Síochána have had a very successful number of months and crime is down in all areas as can be seen from recently published statistics. I am confident that An Garda Síochána, which is an extremely capable and talented force, will be able to carry out their duties, that frontline Garda services will continue to be prioritised, and that the crackdown on organised crime will be maintained.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Questions (35)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

35. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will update Dáil Éireann on the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20782/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Assets Bureau is a vital component in the State's law enforcement response to serious and organised crime. The remit of the Bureau is to target those persons who seek to derive benefit from criminal activities. In carrying out this role the Bureau utilises all available legal remedies, primarily those contained in the Proceeds of Crime legislation, Taxes legislation and Social Welfare legislation, to deprive persons of benefits obtained from the proceeds of crime.

It has long been acknowledged that one of the key strengths of the Bureau is its multi-agency structure, comprising members of An Garda Síochána, officials of the Revenue Commissioners (tax and customs), officials of the Department of Social Protection, a Bureau Legal Officer and administrative and technical staff.

Bureau processes are continuously being evaluated and, where necessary, strengthened to maximise the number of cases brought and assets targeted. Since its inception, notable developments in this regard have been the establishment of a Bureau Analysis Unit within the Bureau and the ongoing training and recruitment programme for asset profilers. There are now in the region of 200 asset profilers in place throughout the jurisdiction providing an asset profiling service to the Bureau.

With regard to future developments, an Expert Group, established under the auspices of my Department, is currently engaged in a comprehensive review of the Proceeds of Crime legislation with a view to identifying possible improvements which would serve to strengthen the operation of the Bureau.

At international level it is recognised that well developed systems for the confiscation of criminal assets, together with law enforcement cooperation in tracing, identifying and seizing such assets, is vital to the targeting of organised crime activity.

Internationally, the Bureau continues to liaise and conduct investigations with law enforcement and judicial authorities throughout Europe and worldwide in pursuit of assets deriving from criminal conduct.

All monies collected by the Bureau are returned to the Exchequer in accordance with the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime legislation. In 2011, Proceeds of Crime cases yielded in excess of €2.7 million to the Exchequer. In addition, the Bureau, using appropriate Revenue provisions, forwarded in excess of €3.8 million to the Exchequer and recovered in excess of €454,000 under Social Welfare provisions.

Further more detailed information concerning the operation of the Bureau is made available in the Annual Reports of the activities of the Criminal Assets Bureau. These reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and published on my Department's website at www.justice.ie.

Insolvency Service of Ireland Application Numbers

Questions (36)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

36. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the expected numbers of person availing of the personal insolvency services under the three mechanisms in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20786/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is difficult to estimate the likely demand on the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI). The tentative estimate of applications for the Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) and Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is roughly 15,000 applications plus a further 3,000 to 4,000 applications for Debt Relief Notices (DRNs) in the first full year. In addition, approximately 3,000 bankruptcy applications are expected during this time. The ISI will be processing DRN applications in July, once Approved Intermediaries are authorised and subsequently, DSA and PIA applications once personal insolvency practitioners (PIPs) are authorised.

Penalty Point System

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 29.

Questions (37, 42, 44)

Brian Stanley

Question:

37. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he will publish the report in to allegations that a large number of penalty points were removed by senior gardaí without an adequate explanation. [20848/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

42. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the progress and conduct of the Garda Assistant Commissioner's report into allegations of the cancellation of fixed charge penalty notices, with particular reference to the delays in bringing the matter before Dáil Éireann. [20715/13]

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Mick Wallace

Question:

44. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons he chose to order an internal review of the allegations concerning the cancellation of fixed charge notices rather than one of the three options available to him (details supplied) under the Garda Act 2005, as amended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20825/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37, 42 and 44 together.

The allegations relating to the cancellation by members of the Garda Síochána of fixed charge notices were forwarded to the Garda Commissioner in October 2012. The Garda Commissioner appointed an Assistant Commissioner to conduct an examination and to report on the allegations. I received an interim report from the Commissioner in November 2012 and the final report on 28 March 2013. Legal consideration has had to be given to certain privacy issues, but I will now be bringing the report to Government and I will then be in a position to make public its findings.

I believe that it was right for me to refer this matter to the Garda Commissioner for a fact-finding investigation, rather than establishing any other type of inquiry, and I would ask Deputies to withhold judgement, on this point or more generally, until they have all of the facts.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 29.

Divorce Process

Question No. 40 answered with Question No. 30.

Questions (39)

Brian Stanley

Question:

39. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review the length of time a married couple have to be separated before they can attain a divorce. [20851/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I would refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of 18th April 2013, in which I indicated as follows: "The basis for the four year period required for divorce is that it is mandated by Article 41.3.2.i of the Constitution. The Oireachtas cannot legislate to change this period unless the majority of voters approve such a change in a referendum." The position remains unchanged.

Question No. 40 answered with Question No. 30.