Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (453)

Finian McGrath

Question:

453. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action that can be taken regarding antisocial behaviour (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [30242/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the report is to hand.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (454)

Micheál Martin

Question:

454. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he raised the Boston College Belfast oral history archive issue with US Attorney General, Eric Holder, during their meetings last week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30247/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I met with the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, in Dublin on 13 and 14 June in the context of the EU–US JHA ministerial meeting. The issue of the Boston College oral history project did not arise in our discussions.

The topics we discussed over the course of our meetings included security and surveillance issues, enhancing Irish-US cooperation in combating serious crime and Ireland’s EU Presidency.

I also took the opportunity to brief Attorney General Holder on Ireland’s EU Presidency in the justice and home affairs area. Many of the Irish Presidency’s priorities in the JHA area reflected the key issues facing Ireland, Europe and the United States, including economic recovery, growth and job creation. I updated Mr. Holder on the EU’s data protection proposals, on which substantial progress has been made under my Chairmanship of the Council of JHA ministers. Our meetings served to underline the shared concerns of Ireland, the EU and the US in tackling issues of international crime, particularly serious and organised crime, and we agreed to continue to further enhance our co-operation in this regard.

Garda Operations

Questions (455)

Seán Kenny

Question:

455. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of running the Garda air support unit, excluding staffing costs, in 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30253/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. In that context, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total expenditure for the Garda Air Support Unit, excluding staffing costs, for each of the years 2010-2012 is outlined in the table.

2010

2011

2012

€2,033,954

€1,901,701

€1,380,161

Data Protection

Questions (456)

Peter Mathews

Question:

456. Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update in respect of recent amendments proposed by the European Council, regarding data protection regulation, during the Irish Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30277/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Achieving progress on the European Commission's proposals to update the Union's data protection standards has been a priority of the Irish Presidency and I am, therefore, pleased to say that substantial progress has been achieved on key aspects of the reform package. High data protection standards are essential in order to build the required levels of citizen trust and confidence in the digital economy and enable us to realise the full potential of this dynamic sector in terms of innovation, growth and new jobs. For this reason, the Union's data protection standards must keep pace with emerging technologies and new business models.

From the outset, the Commission's proposals for reform have been accorded priority in discussions at both ministerial and expert levels. At the Informal Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council in January, I tabled a discussion paper on key aspects of the proposed General Data Protection Regulation which will replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive. The conclusions which I drew from that political debate helped to guide subsequent discussions at expert level. I subsequently submitted an interim Report to the JHA Council in March and a more detailed progress Report to the JHA Council earlier this month. Apart from these ministerial discussions, intensive discussions involving 26 days of meetings took place at expert level.

The progress Report which I submitted to the JHA Council earlier this month identified the progress which we had made on key aspects of Chapters I to IV of the General Data Protection Regulation. These included a number of key provisions which define the material and territorial scope of the Regulation; its underlying principles; issues related to data subject consent; and the relationship between the right to protection of personal data and the rights to freedom of expression and public access to official documents. In addition, I invited Justice Ministers to broadly support enhanced transparency standards in order to facilitate more effective exercise of data subjects’ rights (Chapter III); introduction of the ‘risk-based’ approach in order to calibrate the obligations of data controllers and data processors (Chapter IV); and the development and application of approved codes of conduct and certification mechanisms by controllers and processors as a means of demonstrating compliance with the Regulation. In addition, a draft revised text of Chapters I to IV which reflects the Presidency's view of the state of play of negotiations at this stage was submitted to the Council. I have arranged to have these documents laid before the Houses for the information of Deputies and Senators.

Overall, the Presidency's intensive efforts to make substantial headway on the data protection reform package at both political and expert levels has been recognised and warmly welcomed by Vice President Reding on behalf of the European Commission and by Justice Ministers. I believe that this progress provides a solid foundation for continued discussions on the remaining chapters of the Regulation, and the proposed Directive on data protection in the law enforcement area, and for their ultimate adoption.

Courts Service Issues

Questions (457)

Michael McGrath

Question:

457. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to revise the monetary thresholds that apply to initiation of debt recovery proceedings in the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30292/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013, which is currently before the Seanad, proposes the introduction of new monetary jurisdiction limits for both the District and Circuit Courts, thus increasing the lower threshold for the High Court.

Data Protection

Questions (458)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

458. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department or An Garda Síochána has received any complaints or requests for an investigation as a result of a BBC "Panorama" programme in 2001 which revealed that a large amount of hacked material forming part of the Leveson inquiry in Britain was filtered through this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30309/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department has no record of correspondence of the kind referred to by the Deputy. I have asked An Garda Síochána for the position insofar as they are concerned and I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the response is to hand.

Asylum Support Services

Questions (459)

Clare Daly

Question:

459. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide a breakdown of the numbers of persons within direct provision, who made their application for protection more than five years ago, and are respectively awaiting deportation, seeking subsidiary protection or leave to remain, or have a judicial attachment to their application; the number who are children and the options available to persons who have had their application rejected but are stateless or non-returnable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30327/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. It is important to note that RIA itself has no function in determining whether someone should stay or not in its accommodation. Its function is to provide accommodation and related services to those who have sought international protection and who otherwise have no means of supporting themselves.

In essence, RIA accommodates all those who make a claim for international protection and who seek accommodation until such time as they:

(i) leave voluntarily;

(ii) are removed - either by way of deportation or Dublin II transfer;

(iii) are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection;

or

(iv) are granted leave to remain, either through the process set out in the Immigration Act, 1999 or by way of special scheme such as the 2005 IBC scheme.

The following is a breakdown of RIA residents giving details of the numbers of adults and children from the date of their initial asylum application. It is important to note that protection applicants are not required to live in RIA accommodation and in many cases may move in and out of the direct provision system as their circumstances change. Therefore, while the statistics below will show the length of time that has elapsed since those persons who are currently availing of RIA accommodation made their initial application, this does not necessarily mean that they have been residing in RIA accommodation for all of that time.

Number of years from initial application

Adult

Children

Total

0-1 year

286

150

436

1-2 years

211

175

386

2-3 years

243

242

485

3-4 years

350

236

586

4-5 years

464

243

707

5-6 years

495

200

695

6-7 years

361

163

524

7 + years

443

122

565

Total

2853*

1531

4384

*These figures are taken from the AISIP database and are unreconciled with the current daily centre registers.

The other specific details requested are currently being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Topical Issue Debate

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 435.

Questions (460)

Micheál Martin

Question:

460. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Dáil topical issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of topical issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30345/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to the Oireachtas website www.oireachtas.ie. The information he has requested is readily available here.

Question No. 461 answered with Question No. 435.

Gender Proofing of Policies

Questions (462)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

462. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he intends to open strands 2 and 3 of the Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013 funded by the European Social Fund through the Human Capital Investment Operational Programme 2001-2013 and his Department in view of the fact that strand 1 of this programme, Access to Employment, has been reopened and that projects with a proven track record and very positive outcomes in developing female entrepreneurship are still awaiting funding to continue their work, this should be progressed as a matter of urgency; when he will reopen strand 2, Developing Female Entrepreneurship, and strand 3, Career Development for Women in Employment; if he intends to introduce a strand 4 under the EWM which would target women into public life; and when he envisages this will happen. [30462/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The difficult financial position of the State required me to achieve expenditure reductions across my Department, which impacts on all parts of the Justice and Equality sector, including in the equality area. I took the view that in so far as possible, that front line services such as policing and security, should be maintained. The 2013 budget allocation on positive actions for gender equality prompted a review of the Equality for Women Measure (EWM)

However funding of €1 million for Equality for Women measures is being spent in 2013 and work in relation to both entrepreneurial and women in employment strands is being funded as part of this.

In relation to the Entrepreneurial strand, ongoing funding has been provided for two very successful entrepreneurship projects in 2013, the ‘National Women’s Enterprise Day’ and the ‘Going for Growth’ initiative.

In relation to Access to Employment, which aims to provide women who are currently outside the labour market with the social skills and/or education, and/or training to enable them to enter or return to the labour market and links most closely to the EU and national goals to expand female labour market participation and boost economic growth, projects from 2012 Strand 1 were invited to submit proposals for further funding and in following their appraisal, a total of 23 projects will shortly begin a new phase.

In relation to Strand 3 – Career Development for Women in Employment – this had drawn a disappointing response when originally advertised with only one project being approved and it has now been funded over two periods, while my Department has submitted a separate application for EU funding to support women’s roles in decision making.

Offensive Weapons

Questions (463)

Tom Fleming

Question:

463. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will enforce the ban on the possession of knives with limited exceptions, that is, trades people in the work place, such as fishermen, and so on, in view of the fact that there has been an increase in knife crime, murders, stabbings and assaults here; if he will take into consideration the lifelong physical and psychological scars suffered by victims and their families and also the significant cost to the medical services, the Garda authorities and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30463/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

While I share the Deputy's concern regarding the offences referred to, I would call his attention to the fact that the most recent official crime statistics from the Central Statistics Office show that assault and related offences were down 10.3% in 2012 over 2011 and the figure for weapons and explosives offences, including knife and other offensive weapons, was down 13.6%.

I can assure the Deputy that a comprehensive and robust legal framework is place with respect to knife crime including heavy penalties for breaches of the laws concerned.

Under the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990, the possession of specified offensive weapons is prohibited and it is an offence for any person to manufacture, import, sell, hire or loan such weapons. Specifically, under Section 9 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, it is an offence to possess any knife or any other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed in any public place, without having good reason or lawful authority.

I can further advise that the Garda Commissioner, in 2008, made recommendations in relation to knives and sharply pointed or bladed weapons, and subsequently the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 was enacted, further strengthening the law and responding to Garda concerns about knife crime. The maximum penalty for possessing a knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority has been increased from one to five years, and An Garda Síochána were given an extended power of search without warrant in relation to knives and offensive weapons. In tandem with the new legislation, samurai swords were generally banned from importation and sale.

At an operational level, An Garda Síochána pro-actively targets public disorder and anti-social behaviour, including knife related crime. Areas identified as public order hot-spots by local Garda management are the subject of additional foot and mobile patrols. Incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour reported to the Garda authorities are the subject of investigation and are dealt with appropriately in accordance with the law. However, it should be noted that statistics show that nearly one third of knife crimes occur in domestic settings and often with a degree of spontaneity, which increases the challenges for policing and enforcement.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Questions (464)

Brian Stanley

Question:

464. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify the reason that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10 cannot get Garda clearance in view of the fact that the incident in question was struck out by the courts 11 years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30464/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) does not provide ‘Garda Clearance’. The function of the GCVU is to conduct Garda Vetting checks in respect of Vetting applications submitted by Registered Organisations and to issue Garda Vetting disclosures to such organisations.

Garda Vetting disclosures are made to registered organisations following the signed authorisation of a vetting subject permitting the Garda Central Vetting Unit to disclose to the registered organisation "details of all prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions which may be recorded in respect of them in the State or elsewhere"; or alternatively that there are "no prosecutions or convictions recorded in respect of them". As at present all prosecutions are disclosed under existing arrangements, a prosecution resulting in an order dismissing the charges or discharging the offender conditionally under the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 would be disclosed.

It should however be noted that the function of deciding whether an individual is suitable to work in a Registered Organisation rests within each Registered Organisation and not in the GCVU. A Garda Vetting application form, as completed and signed by the person concerned was received at the Garda Central Vetting Unit from the Registered Organisation in question on 21 March 2013.

Commercial Leases Database

Questions (465)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

465. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to launch the new commercial leases database, which was due to be launched in early June. [30473/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Section 87 of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 provides that the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) shall maintain and establish a database relating to commercial property leases. I am advised by the Authority that work on the development of the commercial leases database is well advanced. As I indicated in my reply to Question No. 537 of 21 May 2013, it was expected at that time that the initial publication of the commercial leases database would occur by mid June. However, as I indicated in that reply, the data which the Authority will use in the first instance were to be obtained from the Revenue Commissioners. Delivery of the relevant dataset was delayed due to pressures on the Office of the Revenue Commissioners arising from the implementation of the Local Property Tax.

I am advised by the Authority that it received the relevant dataset from the Revenue Commissioners very recently. Work on the relevant dataset to generate the commercial leases database is ongoing and the Authority now expects to be in a position to publish the initial commercial leases database in early August. The initial database will contain information covering some 16,039 commercial properties leased during the period 1 January 2010 to 31 May 2013. Following publication of the initial database, it is the Authority's intention to update the database on a weekly basis thereafter.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (466)

Niall Collins

Question:

466. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total cost of ministerial transport in his Department in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date 2013; the number of drivers employed in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30557/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government introduced a number of changes for the provision of Office Holder transport during 2011. 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 1st May 2011 and for former Office Holders on 16th June 2011.

Office Holder cars are currently placed at the disposal of the President, An Taoiseach, An Tánaiste, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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 Office Holder transport have not been maintained in respect of individual Office Holders. However, the Garda authorities have indicated that total expenditure on the provision of Office Holder transport in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 was as outlined in the following table:

Year

Expenditure

2010

€7.503 million

2011

€4.595 million

2012

€2.201 million

2013 (at 21/06/13)

€1.072 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 fully introduced.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (467)

Niall Collins

Question:

467. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total costs of photography incurred by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date 2013 in tabular form per event. [30573/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that photographic services are only used by my Department to mark high profile events and when considered absolutely necessary. Consideration is given at all times to the cost involved and best value for money is always a priority when sourcing such services. The photography costs incurred by my Department in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 are set out below in tabular form.

Associated Event

Date

Cost

Opening of the renovated Monaghan Courthouse.

21 February 2011

€302.50

Launch of the Visa Waiver Scheme.

30 June 2011

€607.42

Appointment of Deputy Commissioner, Garda Síochána.

22 March 2011

€500.34

Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, T.D. and UK Immigration Minister, Damien Green, M.P.,

sign Joint Statement and the accompanying Memorandum of Understanding on Visa Data Exchange.

20 December 2011

€526.35

Conference in Dublin Castle entitled How to Elect More Women?

20 January 2012

€762.29

Photography service used to mark the historic deployment of civilian immigration officers to Dublin Airport to replace Gardaí.

1 February 2012

€551.35

Regulatory Reform for a 21st Century Legal Profession Conference.

6 July 2012

€276.75

E.U. Presidency.

31 January 2013

€200.00

Minister Shatter meets the Romanian President for Internal Affairs during the JHA meetings.

17 January 2013

€344.51

Justice Home Affairs Event.

17 & 18 January 2013

€50.18

E.U. Presidency.

28 February 2013

€387.93

Website photographs for the newly appointed Garda Síochána Inspectorate Team.

April 2013

€492.00

Official Launch of the Insolvency Service Ireland.

18 April 2013

€825.56

E.U. Presidency - Conference in Dublin Castle entitled Women's Economic Engagement in the Europe 2020 Agenda.

29 & 30 April 2013

€1,952.24

Total Photography Costs

€7,779.42

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (468)

Niall Collins

Question:

468. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the details and costs of any newspaper supplements his Department has been involved with in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30589/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I regret to inform the Deputy that I am not in a position to provide the information he is seeking as it is unclear as to what precise information is required. Should the Deputy provide further details as to the information sought I will be happy to try to be of assistance.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (469)

James Bannon

Question:

469. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons for the delay in the processing of a citizenship application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30595/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in August, 2012.

The application is at an advanced stage of processing and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. The person concerned will be informed of my decision in due course.

As well as being a significant event in the life of its recipient, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation as provided for in law is also a major step for the State which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (470)

John Lyons

Question:

470. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cases in which his Department covers the cost of the translation of documents from other languages; the amount this practice will cost his Department in 2013 and has cost his Department in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30613/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the total translation costs incurred by my Department in respect of expenditure from the Department's Vote are detailed as follows.

01/01/13 - 25/06/13

2008 - 2012

€ 6,746

€ 679,593

The Deputy may also wish to note that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) requires translation of the content of individual application forms submitted by applicants in a broad range of languages as well as other documents related to the processing of applications for asylum and immigration related matters. It is not possible to provide a precise breakdown of the costs for the years requested without spending an inordinate amount of time segregating a large volume of individual transactions as the payments systems record both translation and interpretation services under the same budget heading. However, it is estimated that the cost of translation for the years 2011, 2012 amount to €160,000 and €42,000 respectively. Extrapolated costs for 2008, 2009 and 2010 amount to €477,000, €487,000 and €272,000 respectively. The volumes are demand led and, as can be seen from the figures above, there has been an eleven fold decrease in expenditure in 2012 compared to 2008. This is primarily due to the reduction in the number of asylum claims over the period in question. Because the expenditure is demand led it is not possible to estimate costs for 2013. However, I can advise the Deputy that an estimated €17,000 has been expended to the end of May this year.

Crime Data

Questions (471)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

471. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of retailers that were prosecuted from January 2012 to 2013 for the under age sale of tobacco and alcohol; and if he will provide a breakdown of the number that were for the sale of tobacco and the number for the sale of alcohol. [30629/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have asked the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.