Asylum Applications

Questions (156)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will indicate eligibility for long term residency/naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29462/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to my detailed reply to his earlier parliamentary question No. 495 of Tuesday, 23 April, 2013. The position is unchanged since then.

The person concerned is a failed asylum applicant. Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 25th May, 2006, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. She was subsequently notified of her entitlement to apply for subsidiary protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for subsidiary protection and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that the person concerned was not eligible for subsidiary protection. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 16th January, 2008.

The case of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

The Deputy should note that as the person concerned has no current right of residency in the State, she would not be in a position to meet the lawful residency criteria applicable to persons applying to my Department for a Certificate of Naturalisation. Equally, given that the person concerned has no history of employment in the State under Work Permit or Work Authorisation conditions, the issue of an application for the immigration status of Long Term Residency would not arise.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Garda Deployment

Questions (157)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

157. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is prepared to review the Garda manning levels in County Louth in view of the disturbing crime figures in the county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29472/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, 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.

Garda management is satisfied that a full and comprehensive policing service is being delivered to the communities in the Louth Garda Division and that current structures in place meet the requirements of the delivery of an effective and efficient policing service.

Specifically in relation to the Louth Garda division, I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Louth Garda Division on 31 May 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 289. There are also 48 Garda Reserves and 23 civilians attached to the Louth Garda Division. Divisional resources are further augmented, where necessary, by a number of Garda National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, GNDU, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, NBCI, the Criminal Assets Bureau, CAB, and other specialised units.

Immigration Policy

Questions (158)

Derek Nolan

Question:

158. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has ever carried out surveys, polling or information gathering, on the perception of the Irish immigration and asylum system in countries or places outside Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29474/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The perception of Ireland’s immigration and asylum system abroad is monitored primarily through Ireland’s representation at a number of international fora, in particular EU bodies and immigration and asylum related organisations such as the General Directors of Immigration Services Conference, GDISC, the Intergovernmental Consultations on migration, asylum and refugees, IGC, and the EU's border agency, FRONTEX. International perceptions are also ascertained and monitored through regular contacts with the UNHCR as well as participation generally through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at relevant UN fora.

The common travel area, CTA, between Ireland and the UK which for many decades has delivered immeasurable economic, social and cultural benefits to all people on the island is of the utmost importance in public policy. In part informed by the experiences of various organisations such as the tourism bodies and tour operators, the immigration authorities of both countries are working together to introduce reciprocal visa arrangements which will afford greater ease of travel between Ireland and the UK for visa required nationals.

In addition, regular feedback on Ireland's visa policy is received from various bodies abroad such as tour operators and the impact of such policies is evidenced by the increased number of visitors coming to Ireland. For example, Central Statistics Office figures indicate that tourist visits from the countries covered by the visa waiver programme increased by almost 21% in the twelve months after the introduction of the programme compared with the twelve preceding months (from 74,153 to 89,482). The programme has been widely welcomed by tourism promotion agencies and tour operators. The Government decided in March last year to extend the programme beyond its original finish date of 31 October 2012 until the end of October 2016 by which time a common travel area visa arrangement should be in place.

Ireland, like its EU counterparts, is bound by EU law together with national legislation and international law such as the UN Convention on Human Rights. On the asylum front, Ireland actively participates in relevant EU bodies and during our presidency of the EU a number of important legislative measures were successfully concluded. As part of these discussions, experiences of the operation of the asylum system across the EU are discussed which contributes to policy formulation and the measures pursued at EU and National level. Similar sharing of experiences take place in other forum such as GDISC and the IGC. In addition, Ireland is an active participant in FRONTEX and both takes the lead and also participates in various operations organised under its auspices. INIS also provides a range of annual statistical returns to the UNHCR and EUROSTAT and these figures are used for research and inform opinion on asylum and immigration related matters.

The operation of an immigration policy in Ireland, no less nor no more than in any Western European country, is a huge challenge. On the one hand, it is a legitimate public requirement for any nation state to maintain and operate appropriate border controls in order to decide who may enter or reside in the State. On the other hand, any such controls have to be proportionate, balanced, fair and commensurate with the State's national interests in the economic sphere, as indeed in other areas of public policy. Striking the right balance between these often competing requirements is a major challenge and, of course, changes from time to time as wider circumstances dictate. Ultimately all immigration policies boil down to a country's right to determine who may or may not enter its territory and that is a well established fundamental principle in all countries which experience inward migration.

Garda Operations

Questions (159)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

159. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of extra Gardaí that were drafted into Roscommon town for the funeral of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh last Saturday, and also for the removal the previous evening; the person who organised-managed the policing of the funeral; the amount this exercise cost in overtime and extra payments; what the Garda feel set off the disturbances in the graveyard; if the Garda had prior permission from the church to enter church grounds to film mourners; and his views on whether the size and approach of the operation was warranted in the circumstances. [29475/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

For security and operational reasons, it is not Garda policy and it would not be in the public interest to disclose detailed information of a kind that could potentially have an operational impact on policing arrangements, including the numbers of Gardaí deployed on an ongoing daily basis. The Garda Síochána is statutorily required to provide policing services for the State with the aim of preserving public order and protecting life and property. In this regard, Garda resources are allocated by the Commissioner and his senior management team according to, inter alia, the assessed threat of breaches of the criminal law. The costs involved in this specific operation will be met from within the overall Garda vote and a breakdown is not readily available.

Equality Issues

Questions (160)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

160. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to extend the protections of equality legislation enshrined in the programme for Government to the Irish transgender and intersex community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29480/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Equality Tribunal and the Courts have interpreted the existing equality legislation prohibiting gender discrimination as applying also to the situation of transgender persons. Therefore, amendment to these Acts is not necessary to ensure that the desired protections are in place in law for this group in society. I am, however, considering whether addition of an explicit reference in the legislation might be beneficial, particularly in raising awareness of equality issues affecting transgender persons in employment. Application of the prohibition on gender discrimination under equality legislation to the situation of intersex persons has not been considered to date in Ireland by the Equality Tribunal or the courts, or by the Court of Justice of the European Union. I am open to looking at any particular difficulties that arise for intersex persons in this regard, with due consideration to the role and expertise that may be provided by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission on its establishment.

Immigration Controls

Questions (161)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

161. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm the security checks that are in place for buses entering this country from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29483/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána undertakes immigration controls at all approved ports of entry to the State and also deploys an immigration unit based at Dundalk to conduct such controls, as appropriate, at the border with Northern Ireland. The nature of these controls and how they are implemented are operational matters for the Garda Síochána. As the Deputy is aware, there is a common travel area, CTA, between Ireland and the UK which for many decades has delivered immeasurable economic, social and cultural benefits to all people on the island. The CTA which facilitates ease of travel is of the utmost importance in public policy and in its implementation an appropriate and balanced approach is taken to border controls in cooperation with the UK authorities.

Garda Investigations

Questions (162)

Finian McGrath

Question:

162. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will respond to the isues raised in correspondence regarding the destruction of a gun (details supplied). [29507/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As I advised the Deputy in my response to his parliamentary question dated 16 May 2013, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the incident, which occurred in 1989, was the subject of thorough investigation. Complaints were also made to the Garda Síochána Complaint Board which further investigated the matter and found no evidence of an offence or breach of discipline on the part of the members concerned.