Asylum Applications

Questions (472)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

472. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons granted protection or resettled here from the beginning of 2003 until the end of 2012 and for each year; if he will provide a breakdown of positive recommendations and overall decisions from, the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Ministerial Decisions Unit, including Subsidiary Protection and Leave to Remain; the number of persons who have been resettled in Ireland on the UNHCR resettlement programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30658/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INS) that the vast majority of the information requested by the Deputy is published in the Annual Reports of the various bodies concerned as well as in the Department’s Annual Reports. For ease of reference the links to the relevant sections of the websites of the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal as well as links to the Department’s own annual Reports are as follows:

- Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner: http://www.orac.ie/website/orac/oracwebsite.nsf/page/publications-main-en

- Refugee Appeals Tribunal: http://www.refappeal.ie/website/rat/ratweb.nsf/page/about_the_tribunal-en

- Justice Annual Report 2010 http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/DJLR%20Annual%20Report%202010.pdf/Files/DJLR%20Annual%20Report%202010.pdf

- Justice Annual Report 2008 http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Annual%20Report%202008.pdf/Files/Annual%20Report%202008.pdf

Figures for 2012 not already included will be provided in the relevant Annual reports when published. The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the Ministerial Decision Unit has recently been provided in response to PQ 692 of 11 June 2013. It should be noted that the recommendation from the ORAC or RAT is accepted in the vast majority of these cases. However, the figures for any particular year will vary from the ORAC and RAT figures because of timing differences i.e. a recommendation made by ORAC or RAT at the end of the year will be recorded in that year's figures by the ORAC or RAT, while the decision by the Ministerial Decision Unit may not be made until the following year and thus recorded in that year. Information in relation to the number of people who have been resettled in Ireland on the UNHCR resettlement programme is provided in Appendix 1.

The Deputy should note that the processing of cases at the repatriation stage is a complex one with obligations to adhere to both domestic and international laws and jurisprudence, and to make decisions in accordance with the UN Convention on Human Rights. This involves cases finalised through the granting of Subsidiary Protection, the granting of permission to remain under a number of different headings (including under EU Treaty Rights, through marriage to an Irish national or under family reunification provisions), the making of deportation orders and the voluntary repatriation, formally and informally, of many of the persons involved. Other cases cannot be finalised owing to the existence of judicial review proceedings while a further cohort of cases will clearly remain to be decided. Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing in the area of international protection, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.

Appendix 1:

UNHCR Resettlement Programme – Number of Persons

Year

Number of Persons

2003

50

2004

58

2005

115

2006

184

2007

114

2008

101

2009

192

2010

20

2011

45

2012

49

Total

928

Courts Service Issues

Questions (473)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

473. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the District Court Office in Limerick is unable to process family law court matters, variation orders in particular, unless provided by a solicitor or Legal Aid Office due to staff cut backs; his views on whether this is a fair situation to those who cannot afford legal services and will have a ten month wait for legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30668/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. However, in order to be of assistance I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service and have been informed that all completed family law applications, whether completed by a solicitor, the Legal Aid board or a member of the public, are processed by the District Court Family Law Office in Limerick. The position in Limerick District Court Family Law office, in common with all such offices, is that any persons seeking to make applications for variations of maintenance or custody/access are provided with the necessary forms if requested or, where appropriate, are directed to the Courts Service website where detailed Family Law packs are available. I am informed that while Courts Service staff are instructed that every assistance should be provided to unrepresented litigants they are not in a position to provide legal advice in relation to remedies available in the family law courts. Courts Service staff will advise such persons of the desirability of obtaining independent legal advice, either from a solicitor or the Legal Aid Board in instances especially where the remedy being sought is not clear. I am informed that following a recent internal reorganisation of the District Court Office in Limerick, additional staff resources have recently been provided to the Family Law Office which will facilitate the continued maintenance of a customer focused family law service by the office subject to the constraints around the provision of legal advice by Courts Service staff.

Legislative Programme

Questions (474, 487)

Robert Dowds

Question:

474. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on his progress with promised immigration, residence and protection legislation; the way this legislation is likely to affect people already in the immigration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30673/13]

View answer

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

487. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to have the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30732/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 474 and 487 together.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to today's Parliamentary Questions 567 and 568 and Parliamentary Question No. 393 of 18 June 2013. The position remains the same:

Work on the details of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 is ongoing at my Department pursuant to current Government policy which is committed, under the Programme for National Recovery, to "introduce comprehensive reforms of the immigration, residency and asylum systems, which will include a statutory appeals system and set out rights and obligations in a transparent way". As I have outlined previously to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, several hundred amendments to the Bill are anticipated, the majority of a technical nature. I also expressed the considered view that instead of engaging in an extremely cumbersome process of tabling hundreds of amendments to the 2010 Bill, it would be much more efficient to publish a new and enhanced text. Such an approach can incorporate the many anticipated amendments while addressing key outstanding issues, several of which have been of concern to Members including those being raised by the Deputy on this occasion. This proposition was broadly welcomed by the Joint Committee and work on the Bill continues, therefore, on that basis while also taking account of any intervening matters of relevance such as decisions by the Courts. It remains my objective under this new approach, and subject to having to deal with the competing legislative demands of our EU/IMF/ECB Programme commitments, to be in a position to bring a revised Bill to Government for approval and publication before the end of the year."

Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing in the area of international protection, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.

Mental Health Services Provision

Questions (475)

Robert Dowds

Question:

475. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will give further consideration to the true costs of the direct provision system for asylum seekers, including health care, social welfare and legal costs; and if the direct provision system is still cheaper than providing for asylum seekers in the community when these costs are taken into account. [30674/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The direct provision system is managed by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. For the most part, this represents a cashless system with the State assuming responsibility for providing suitable accommodation for asylum seekers on a full board basis. RIA currently provides full board accommodation and ancillary services to 4,587 persons in 34 centres across the State. The issues raised in this question were examined in considerable detail in the 2010 Value for Money (VFM) Report which is available on the RIA website - www.ria.gov.ie. The Report found that there are no cheaper alternatives to the Direct Provision system. In fact, if we were operating a system which facilitated asylum seekers in living independent lives in individual housing with social welfare support and payments, the cost to the exchequer would be double what is currently paid under the direct provision system. Note that if the State were to allow all asylum seekers avail of full social welfare supports, including rent supplement, the immediate impact would be for all asylum seekers, including those not currently in RIA accommodation, to avail of that financial support. As things stand, not all asylum seekers live in direct provision. Some live with friends or family or provide from their own resources. I have said before that I accept that the length of time spent in direct provision and the complexity of the asylum process itself is an issue which needs to be addressed. The revised Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I intend to re-publish, should substantially simplify and streamline the existing arrangements for asylum, subsidiary protection and leave to remain applications. It will do this by making provision for the establishment of a single application procedure, so that applicants can be provided with a final decision on all aspects of their protection application in a more straight forward and timely fashion. Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

Questions (476)

Robert Dowds

Question:

476. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the mental health care provided for asylum seekers and persons seeking leave to remain who are living in direct provision; and if data are collected regarding the number of persons with serious mental health problems in the direct provision system. [30675/13]

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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. RIA currently provides accommodation to 4,587 persons in 34 accommodation centres across the State. Firstly, it is important to point out that services to asylum seekers in direct provision are main streamed. As such, asylum seekers receive a health service, including mental health services, on the same basis as Irish citizens. This is, in many cases, superior to what it available in their country of origin. Asylum seekers in direct provision first link in with health services when they are temporarily accommodated in a reception centre in Dublin after they first claim international protection. In the reception centre, they are offered medical screening and are linked in with Community Welfare services. Access is also provided to GPs, Public Health Nurses and psychological services. After a period of approximately two weeks, those asylum seekers are scheduled for dispersal to accommodation centres throughout the country, subject to clearance by the HSE Health Centre in the reception centre. If there are particular health concerns, a person may be retained for a period at the reception centre or may be dispersed to specified accommodation centres with access to particular health services. Even after dispersal, further health needs may present. Such cases are reviewed by RIA's internal administrative health unit in conjunction with the local health services to see if any administrative arrangements, transfers etc., can be put in place. RIA has access to an independent medical referee to assist in the assessment of particular health needs.

On a more general level, it is very difficult to get any verifiable data in relation to the mental health of asylum seekers in Direct Provision. Patently, an asylum seeker, having removed himself from the social and family supports he had in his country of origin to live in a communal setting of a direct provision centre with all of the uncertainty attaching to his longer term immigration status, is bound to be under stress to a greater extent than the 'settled' population. The issue of whether poor mental health of some asylum seekers is a function of pre-migration stress, of the stress of the migration itself, of post migration issues, of living in Direct Provision, or a combination of these factors, is a complex matter and as such great caution should be exercised before drawing conclusions. At all events, RIA does not have access, as a matter of course, to a person's confidential medical records. Therefore, the collation of data regarding the number of persons with mental health problems in direct provision is a matter for the HSE.

Immigration Policy

Questions (477)

Robert Dowds

Question:

477. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views regarding the issue of asylum seekers and permission to work. [30684/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Section 9(4)(b) of the Refugee Act 1996 provides that applicants for international protection shall not seek or enter employment or carry on any business, trade or profession during the period before the final determination of their application. This prohibition is restated in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. The key concern in light of past experience is that both the asylum process and the wider immigration system could be undermined, by giving immigrants who secure entry to the State, on foot of claims to asylum, the same access to employment as immigrants who follow the lawful route to employment. There is an effective immigration and visa system in place for those who wish to lawfully migrate to the State for employment purposes. There are no plans to review the prohibition on the right to work for asylum seekers. Any change in public policy in this area would, inter alia, have to have regard to the very large numbers of people unemployed in this country.

Asylum Applications

Questions (478, 479)

Robert Dowds

Question:

478. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on leave to remain for asylum seekers who have been in the system for a long time. [30685/13]

View answer

Robert Dowds

Question:

479. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way he is dealing with the backlog of applications for asylum. [30686/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 478 and 479 together.

Applications for refugee status in the State are assessed at first instance by the statutory independent Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and on appeal by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) in accordance with a prescribed legal framework and exclusively on their merits having regard to their subjective and objective elements.

In 2013 (to end May) the median processing time from date of initial application at ORAC through the appeal stage at RAT, to a final Ministerial decision, was 8.3 months. I should point out that some cases can take significantly longer to complete due to, for example, delays arising from medical issues, or because of judicial review proceedings. All asylum applications and appeals are processed in accordance with the Refugee Act 1996 and high quality and fair decision-making in all cases continues to be a key priority at all stages of the asylum process.

A person who is refused a declaration of refugee status is, in addition to other options, notified of their entitlement under the leave to remain process, to apply for subsidiary protection in the State. This is separate to the asylum or refugee status determination process.

The leave to remain process involves consideration of applications for subsidiary protection and other reasons which a failed asylum seeker may present for remaining in the State. The processing of such cases is complex and extremely resource intensive. The investigation of a subsidiary protection application requires a fresh examination of the entire asylum file, the documentation and country of origin information submitted in support of the application as well as an examination of objective, reputable, up to date country of origin information before a conclusion can be arrived at as to whether the applicant is likely to be exposed to 'serious harm' if returned to his/her country of origin. Where such an application is refused consideration must then be given to the case in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the 1999 Act, at which point the Minister must make a decision as to whether or not to make a Deportation Order in respect of that person.

All of this must be done in strict compliance with the Constitution, together with relevant international treaties, such as the European Convention on Human Rights. It will be seen that these are not quick or easy decisions to make and, given the life changing consequences for the persons involved, these are decisions which must be taken with the most scrupulous care and attention.

While the current statutory framework for the processing of protection applications is fair, giving applicants, as it does, every opportunity to present their case, it is nonetheless inefficient and needs reform. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I intend to re-publish, should substantially simplify and streamline the existing arrangements and provide applicants with a final decision on their application in a more 'straight forward' and timely fashion. In this regard, the Bill makes provision for the introduction of a single application procedure for the investigation of all grounds for protection and any other grounds presented by applicants seeking to remain in the State.

Pending the enactment and commencement of the new legislation and with a view to improving processing in the area of international protection, I am proposing to introduce new arrangements for the processing of subsidiary protection applications in light of recent judgments in the Superior Courts. My Department, in consultation with the Attorney General's Office, is developing a new legislative and administrative framework for the processing of current and future subsidiary protection applications. This work is being given high priority and applicants will be advised of the new arrangements as soon as possible.

In the meantime cases will continue to be dealt with on their individual merits and in this context the Deputy may be aware that at EU Level, the Member States, in agreeing the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum at the European Council in October 2008 made specific commitments "to use only case-by-case regularisation, rather than generalised regularisation, under national law, for humanitarian or economic reasons".

Road Traffic Accidents Data

Questions (480)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

480. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of hit and run collisions in which there were fatalities which occurred in the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 here; the number of persons seriously injured in hit and run collisions during this period; and the number of hit and run collisions in which there was significant damage to vehicles recorded during this period. [30690/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that road collision statistics are not recorded in a manner which would enable the specific statistics sought by the Deputy to be compiled without requiring a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources.

Registration of Wills

Questions (481)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

481. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration has been given to provide for a register of wills in Ireland; if Ireland ever signed the Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills when drafted in 1972; if his attention has been drawn to any plans within the EU to draw up a directive on the administration of probate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30696/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Discussions between my Department and the Law Society concerning the possible establishment of a Register of Wills took place in 2005 in the context of a Private Members Bill to establish such a register. However, while such registers have been established in many countries, the discussions with the Law Society revealed a number of difficulties with the viability of any such scheme in this jurisdiction. For example, the registration of a will would not guarantee its validity, i.e. compliance with the statutory requirements concerning signature and witnessing of a will. It would not prove that the will had been property executed or that the testator had not been subject to undue influence. Moreover, there could be no guarantee that the registered will was indeed the last will of the testator. The most that registration could confirm would be that a particular will had been registered on a particular day; it could not confer any priority over later unregistered wills, nor would it provide any guarantee that a registered will had not been revoked or replaced by a later will. For these reasons, Ireland has not signed or ratified the Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills and there are no current plans to do so.

It is the case that many people die in this country without making a will, i.e. they have died intestate. The Annual Report of the Courts Service for 2011 indicates that of the 16,350 applications made to the Probate Office during that year, 12,520 (76.5%) arose from cases where a will had been made and 3,820 (23.5%) were in respect of intestacy cases. In some such cases, it may be assumed that death was unexpected, especially in cases of accidents. In other cases, a conscious decision may have been taken not to make a will, possibly because of reluctance to choose between potential beneficiaries or because the individual concerned was satisfied that the estate would be divided under Part 6 of the Succession Act 1965 which sets out clear and unambiguous rules for distribution on intestacy. An EU Regulation (650/2012) on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of successions and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession was agreed in July 2012. In accordance with the Protocol No 21 on the position of Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Ireland did not take part in the adoption of Regulation (EU) No 650/2012. Ireland took the decision not to opt-in to this Regulation on the grounds that, despite intensive negotiations, the final text of the Regulation would have interfered to an unacceptable extent with the manner in which estates are administered in this jurisdiction.

Garda Vetting Applications

Questions (482)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

482. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application for Garda vetting which was submitted in February in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 will be finalised as soon as possible in view of the fact that the applicant cannot take up a community employment position until the process is completed. [30712/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application on behalf of the individual referred to was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU). The application was processed and returned to the Registered Organisation in question on 18 June 2013.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (483, 485, 486)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

483. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has had any discussions with An Garda Síochána regarding the reopening of a homeless hostel just off O'Connell Street, at Cedar House on Marlborough Place; if it has confirmed it will increase patrols in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30725/13]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

485. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to concerns of business owners that there has been a significant increase in anti-social behaviour in Dublin 1 following the reopening of a homeless hostel in Cedar House on Marlborough Place and that this increase in anti-social behaviour could lead to a loss of business and job losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30729/13]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

486. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm if An Garda Síochána will consider taking a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour, including drug taking and dealing, on the north inner city streets in order to successfully tackle the ongoing problems in this area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30731/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 483, 485 and 486 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is located within the Store Street Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of the concerns expressed by business associations and individual businesses in relation to the matters referred to by the Deputy and is putting in place appropriate responses. The area is subject to twenty-four hour foot and mobile patrols including uniform high visibility personnel, plain clothes personnel, the Crime Task Force and the Drug and Crime Prevention Units. Local Garda Management closely monitor such patrols, and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to local communities. A number of policing initiatives have been put in place by local Garda management to prevent and disrupt anti-social behaviour, including the sale, distribution and use of drugs in the locality. These initiatives have been acknowledged by the local business community as resulting in a reduction of such behaviour. In particular, a High Visibility Policing Plan is in place within the Dublin city area. Dedicated high visibility patrols are conducted in key thoroughfares at strategic times, as dictated by crime trends and foot fall for these areas. These measures will be subject to close monitoring by local Garda management and will be continually reviewed to ensure they target prevailing trends.

I am further informed that there are a number of specific Operations in place in the North Inner City which actively combat anti-social behaviour. Operation Stilts is an ongoing Garda operation to intensively police affected areas including O’ Connell Street, Marlborough Street, Talbot Street, North Earl St, Abbey St, Eden Quay, the Boardwalk, Wolfe Tone Street, Parnell Street and adjacent side streets to prevent and disrupt the activities of those involved in anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. Operation Redline targets criminals using the Luas Red Line and supports the Veolia Staff working on the Red Line. This Operation is designed to combat public order, drunkenness, loitering and thefts from persons on the Luas trams and at Luas stops. Operation 'Red Line' is carried out by uniformed Gardaí and plainclothes members on surveillance duty.

I am in regular contact with the Garda Commissioner with a view to ensuring that our streets are safe for all of our citizens and for the conduct of legitimate business and economic activity. In this regard I am assured that there is a strong community policing team assigned to the area concerned, headed up by an Inspector and this strategy is concerned with a robust reassurance policing policy involving a high visibility policing presence at key locations and at pertinent times with a significant emphasis on both the day time and night time economy. The basis of the policy is to engage with key stakeholders and maintain a visible Garda presence and to vigorously target individuals or groups who interfere with the public's capacity to enjoy the area. Local Garda Management were part of the Multi-Stakeholder Strategic Response Group who issued the report 'A Better City for all', and are presently part of the implementation group which is tasked with implementing the recommendations contained in the report.

Garda Operations

Questions Nos. 485 and 486 answered with Question No. 483.

Question No. 487 answered with Question No. 474.

Questions (484)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

484. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm the frequency of Garda patrols in the Dublin 1 area that specifically target drug activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30727/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to by the Deputy is within the Store Street sub- district of An Garda Siochána's Dublin North Central Division and that a proactive approach is being applied to tackle all drug activity and anti-social behaviour taking place in this area with the emphasis being placed on known locations associated with this type of behaviour. In this regard a high visibility Policing Plan for the Dublin Metropolitan Region, with a specific policing plan for Dublin City Centre, is in place which involves the deployment of high-visibility uniform personnel conducting dedicated patrols in key commercial areas and public thoroughfares at strategic times, identified through analysis of crime-trends, demand-led policing and the foot-fall for the areas in question. The particular area referred to by the Deputy is the subject of twenty-four hour Garda mobile and foot patrols. These patrols involve the use of uniform high-visibility personnel (both core and non core members, and the Crime Task Force), plain clothes personnel (drugs and crime prevention unit members) and mobile patrols. Furthermore, there is a strong community policing team assigned to the area concerned, headed up by an Inspector and this strategy is concerned with a robust reassurance policing policy involving a high visibility policing presence at key locations and at pertinent times with a significant emphasis on both the day time and night time economy.

In addition, there are a number of targeted Garda operations being conducted in the Dublin North Inner City area which actively combat the issue of drug activity and anti social behaviour, including Operations Stilts, Operation Redline which targets criminals using the Luas Red Line, and Operations Momentum, Wallet and Aughrim, all of which are also focused on tackling criminal activity in the area including drug dealing. In addition, An Garda Síochána also engages extensively with local communities, businesses and others relevant stakeholders with a view to addressing concerns of this nature. In particular, local Garda management based in Store Street Garda station are part of the multi-stakeholder Strategic Response Group (SRG) which issued the report 'A Better City for All' in 2012 and are currently part of the implementation group which is tasked with implementing the recommendations contained in the report which is concerned with addressing public substance misuse and perceived anti-social behaviour in Dublin's City Centre. Finally I am assured by the Garda authorities that local Garda management in the area in question monitor operational strategies in place, including the use of patrols, in conjunction with crime trends and the ongoing policing needs of the local community to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and that the best possible Garda service continues to be provided in the Dublin 1 area.

Questions Nos. 485 and 486 answered with Question No. 483.
Question No. 487 answered with Question No. 474.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (488)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

488. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Defence the reason the current criteria for eligibility to be admitted as a cadet in the Air Corps include having no previous corrections made to the candidate’s eyesight, regardless of whether the candidate’s current eyesight fits the Air Corps criteria; and if he is considering amending this criterion in line with advancements in corrective laser eye surgery and bearing in mind practices employed by private airline companies and military air forces in other countries. [30284/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are a number of physical and medical standards laid down by the Military Authorities, including specified vision requirements, for entry to all branches of the Defence Forces. These requirements are based on the professional advice of the Medical Corps and having regard to the nature of the job, the duties of military service and the training exercises undertaken by members of the Defence Forces. The Medical Corps regularly reviews the medical standards for entry to the Defence Forces. The question of the suitability for military service of persons who have had laser eye surgery to correct their visual acuity is complex. It depends on a number of factors including the exact type of surgery and the amount of visual correction effected. Applicants, including those for an Air Corps Cadetship, who have had previous incisional or laser treatment to correct visual acuity are excluded from eligibility. However the matter will be kept under review.

Defence Forces Veterans

Questions (489)

Michael McGrath

Question:

489. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 22 May 2013, if the relevant legislation provides for any ministerial discretion to consider applications for an active military service certificate beyond the statutory date in the case, for example, when exceptional medical circumstances applied; if he will cite the relevant legislative reference for the provision or non provision of any ministerial discretion in this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30134/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Section 11 of Military Service Pensions (Amendment) Act, 1949 provided for the re-investigation of certain applications made under the Military Service Pensions Act, 1934, where a petition was received not later than eighteen months from the date of the passing of the (1949) Act. Section 6 of the Military Service Pensions (Amendment) Act, 1953 extended the deadline for receipt of petitions to six months after the passing of that Act. This extension fixed 18 September 1953 as the latest date for appeals by way of petition under the 1949 Act. Section 6 of the 1953 Act does not make provision for Ministerial discretion in relation to petitions received after this date. As I have previously stated on 22 May 2013 in reply to Parliamentary Question number 214, it will not be possible to further consider the issue of a service certificate in this case.

Topical Issue Debate

Questions (490)

Micheál Martin

Question:

490. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Defence 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. [30338/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The information requested by the Deputy concerning the number of Topical Issue debates assigned to my Department since their introduction in July 2011 is set out in the table below. The text of the debates can be accessed online on the Oireachtas website www.oireachtas.ie

No. of Topical Issues taken by Minister for Defence

No. of Topical Issues taken by Minister of State for Defence

No. of Topical Issues taken by a Minister not from Department of Defence

4

3

1