Leader Programmes Funding

Questions (148)

Seán Kyne

Question:

148. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will report on the progress of reforming the structures of Leader funding provision as contained in the Putting People First document; and if any agreement has been made on the bottom-up approach of delivery. [21877/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Report of the Local Government/Local Development Alignment Steering Group made a number of recommendations, which Government accepted, focused on improving the delivery of services for the citizen at a local level, achieving greater efficiency and effectiveness, and enhancing the role of local authorities in the delivery of local and community development programmes and functions. A working group comprising key stakeholders is currently overseeing the arrangements to implement the Steering Group's recommendations. New arrangements will consider the roles of central and local government, and the continued role of local development companies in programme implementation, including LEADER implementation.

The value of funding available under future LEADER supports and the detailed regulations for implementation purposes are yet to be agreed for the next programming round. These issues, along with the alignment implementation arrangements currently being examined by the working group, will be relevant and important in identifying the optimum programme arrangements for local development funding. LEADER supports will continue to be implemented via a bottom-up approach in line with EU requirements.

Homelessness Strategy

Questions (149)

Seán Kyne

Question:

149. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if work is underway on drawing up a new strategy to tackle the problem of homelessness in advance of the expiry of the current strategy this year. [21880/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

I recently published a Homelessness Policy Statement in which I outlined the Government's aim to end long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. The statement emphasises a housing-led approach which is about accessing permanent housing as the primary response to all forms of homelessness. The availability and supply of secure, affordable and adequate housing is essential in ensuring sustainable tenancies and ending long-term homelessness.

When I published the statement, I announced a set of indicators which will be used to demonstrate the dynamics of homelessness as it is addressed. These indicators will give a clearer picture of homelessness in Ireland, and, in quantifying its ongoing extent, will support the bringing forward of realistic and practical solutions. I established a high-level three-person oversight group for the purpose of reviewing the progress of the approach being advocated in the statement, reviewing progress with indicators, identifying obstacles and proposing solutions. The group expects to provide me with their first report in the Autumn.

I will await the findings of the group before making a decision on a successor to the current homeless strategy, The Way Home: A Strategy to Address Adult Homelessness in Ireland 2008 - 2013 which expires at the end of this year.

Prisoner Transfers

Questions (150, 151)

Seán Fleming

Question:

150. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the arrangements in place between Ireland and Germany regarding Irish persons serving sentences in jail in Germany being transferred to complete their sentence here; the conditions and requirements that apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21723/13]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

151. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the arrangements in place between Ireland and Bavaria in Germany regarding Irish persons serving sentences in jail in Bavaria being transferred to complete their sentence here; the conditions and requirements that apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21724/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 151 together.

I am to advise the Deputy that the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons was ratified in Germany on 31st October, 1991 and came into force there on 1st February, 1992. The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, 1995 and 1997 provide a mechanism whereby non-nationals serving sentences in Ireland may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in their own countries and, similarly, Irish persons who are imprisoned overseas may apply to serve the remainder of their sentences in Ireland. Transfer requests under the Convention are normally made by a prisoner through the governor of the prison in which he or she is detained.

To be considered eligible for a transfer to the prisoner's home country, the prisoner must meet the criteria as set out as follows:

i) the prisoner must be a national of the country to which they want to be transferred, (there are some circumstances where a period of permanent residency may be sufficient rather than being that nationality)

ii) the sentence imposed is final, therefore remand prisoners, or prisoners who have an appeal against the conviction are not considered for such transfers

iii) there is at least 6 months left to serve on the sentence imposed

iv) the offence that the prisoner has been convicted of is considered to be a crime in their home country too.

I decide on all such requests following the collation of a number of reports from various agencies setting out the consequences of such a transfer. For any such transfer to take place, the consent of all three parties in the process is required i.e. the sentencing state, the receiving state and the sentenced person.

Legal Aid Service Expenditure

Questions (152)

Seán Kyne

Question:

152. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if additional resources will be made available to the Legal Aid Board to enhance the support, advice and information available to persons in financial difficulties such as mortgage arrears. [21817/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that 16,870 applications were made to the Legal Aid Board's general law centres during 2012. This compared with 18,727 applications in 2011 which was a decrease of approximately 10%. Overall however, there has been a significant increase in demand for civil legal aid services in recent years, as the number of applications in 2006 was 9,689 which the Deputy will note from last year's figure was almost 74% ahead of the demand six years earlier. On the asylum side the trend has been consistently downwards for a number of years. Last year there were 725 new applications to the Board for asylum related matters. This compares to a figure of 979 in 2011 and 2,980 in 2006. Adjusting the numbers overall there were 17,595 new applications in 2012 compared to 19,706 in 2011 and 12,669 in 2006. The drop in demand in 2012 on 2011 was just under 11% while demand in 2012 was still 39% ahead of what it was six years previously. From this year we are recording a single figure for demand for services.

Having regard to the significantly increased demand for services from the Legal Aid Board in recent years, it was decided to maintain the Board's grant-in-aid for 2013 at the same level as last year. The Board, in common with all public service organisations, has to manage the delivery of their services in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible having regard to ongoing pressure on the public finances. Notwithstanding the pressures on resources, I have further supported the Board by approving exemptions from the moratorium to enable the organisation to recruit front-line staff for direct service delivery. The Public Appointments Service is currently running a solicitor recruitment competition for the Board from which appointments, both temporary and permanent, will be made in the coming months.

The Deputy should also note that prior to 2012 the Board received a grant-in-aid for its general civil legal aid services and a separate grant for its asylum services. The 2012 allocation was however, a single grant-in-aid which included funding in respect of the Family Mediation Service, for which the Board assumed responsibility in late 2011. This has facilitated the integration of the asylum area into the general service delivery area with consequent efficiencies in terms of use of resources. I am confident that this measure combined with the extra staffing resources will meet the demands that are placed on the civil legal aid system generally and will not be specific to any particular problem type.

Property Registration Authority

Questions (153)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

153. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to any concerns relating to the method of registering judgment mortgages by the Property Registration Authority of Ireland; if he will investigate a case where two judgment mortgages were registered against a folio (details supplied) in County Limerick, in 2003 and 2004, same orders were registered again against the same folio under a separate instrument number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21598/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The role of the Property Registration Authority in relation to the registration of judgment mortgages is purely administrative and provided that an application is made in the correct form, registration proceeds. The case referred to by the Deputy is currently the subject of an ongoing judicial review case. Two judgment mortgages were lodged with the Property Registration Authority by a firm of solicitors in 2003. Due to a perceived error on behalf of the lodging party, two fresh judgment mortgage affidavits were lodged for registration by the same firm of solicitors in March 2004.

On 6 May 2004, the title holder applied to the Land Registry to remove the judgment mortgages. As indicated, registration of judgment mortgages is purely an administrative process. In the absence of a release by the owner of the judgment, a decision was made by the Property Registration Authority to refuse the application and an order of refusal issued on 9 August 2007. The title holder subsequently applied for Judicial Review in the High Court against the refusal order issued by the Authority. I am advised by the Property Registration Authority that prior to the hearing, the original two judgment mortgages were cancelled from the folio on foot of legal advice and on notice to the solicitor for the judgment mortgagee, since the interest was still protected by the second two judgment mortgages. The High Court found in April 2009 that the Authority was obliged by law to register the judgments in question. It was also held that the Authority had ample power to cancel the duplicated judgment mortgages. The Court refused the reliefs sought in the judicial review proceedings. The matter is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court and on 3 May 2013 the appellant was granted further time to file a Book of Appeal.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment any further in relation to matters which are subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

Child Abduction

Questions (154)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

154. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of times the Hague Convention on child abduction has been invoked in this State in each of the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21600/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Central Authority for Child Abduction operates in my Department for the purposes of, among other international instruments, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Convention is designed to ensure the prompt return of children who have been removed from one contracting state to another - usually by a parent in defiance of the wishes of the other parent. The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Year

Total number of cases processed

Total number of new cases

Applications where 1980 Hague Convention invoked only

Applications where 1980 Hague Convention and Brussels II bis* Regulation invoked

2010

233

140

117

46

2011

261

142

125

79

2012

276

147

116

82

2013 (to date)

90

61

19

17

* Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.

Please note some applications would have been processed under other international instruments. Further details are available on my Department's website at www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/International_child_abduction.