Sexual Offences

Questions (214)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

214. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to address the issue of counselling notes from children who have been sexually assaulted being made available in criminal prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35757/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is my intention that this issue will be addressed in the forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill, which is at an advanced stage of preparation in my Department.

Northern Ireland Issues

Questions (215)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

215. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether the Nally report into the Omagh bombing was unsatisfactory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35758/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Nally Group was established by the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in 2002 to examine certain issues raised in a report submitted by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. The Nally Group which comprised a former Secretary to the Government, a former Secretary of the Department of Justice, and a former Director of Public Prosecutions reported in 2003 and a redacted version of that report was published subsequently. I have no grounds for believing that the Group did not discharge their function fully and satisfactorily.

Northern Ireland Issues

Questions (216)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

216. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to open a new investigation into the Omagh bombing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35759/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the investigation of criminal offences is a matter for the Garda Síochána. In this context, the Garda investigation file into the terrorist atrocity at Omagh remains open and the Garda authorities remain ready to follow up any new leads or information that may come to light which would allow the investigation to be progressed further. I met with the Omagh Support and Self Help Group last year and received a copy of a document which they have compiled on events surrounding the bombing. I am currently in the process of finalising a detailed and, of necessity, lengthy consideration of the issues raised. I hope to conclude this process soon and once a conclusion has been reached I will communicate directly with the Omagh Group.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Questions (217)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

217. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties for community employment schemes, and potential participants, arising from delays in the Garda vetting unit in processing requests. [35760/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current average processing time for applications is approximately 14 weeks from date of receipt. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion. All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process. I remain in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner as to how best the service can continue to be delivered and improved upon, while at all times protecting the integrity of the process. Clearly, the protection of children and vulnerable adults is the primary objective of the Garda Central Vetting Unit and this must remain the case.

The possibility of introducing an e-vetting system has been assessed and the Garda authorities are now in the process of developing a system which will enable vetting applications to be submitted electronically through a secure web service. In addition, the system will facilitate the checking and monitoring of applications. The relevant work is being pursued on a priority basis and it will be completed as quickly as possible. With further assignments of staff this month, staffing at the Unit will be of the order of 140 (whole time equivalent) staff, which represents an increase in staff assigned to the Unit of almost 50% since March this year. As staff become fully trained on the vetting process I expect there will be a positive effect on vetting times. My Department is also examining the scope for the redeployment of additional personnel from within the public service to the Unit.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Questions (218)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

218. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of errors that have been acknowledged by the Garda vetting unit in the years 2009 to 2012, inclusive, and to date in 2013. [35761/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available and could only be obtained with the expenditure of an inordinate amount of staff time and resources which in the circumstances could not be justified.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (219)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

219. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the Garda Commissioner to meet him to discuss GSOC's publicly aired serious concerns. [35763/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The meeting referred to by the Deputy with the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, the objective of which is to ensure that any outstanding issues have been resolved, will take place shortly.

Residential Institutions Issues

Questions (220)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

220. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the Bethany Home this month as committed to on 25 June 2013. [35789/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I met with members of the Bethany Survivors Group together with Minister for State Kathleen Lynch on Tuesday 16 April. The Group raised the question of their inclusion within the Residential Institutions Redress scheme or a similar type scheme designed for children who had been in the Bethany Home. They also raised the question of access to personal records, a memorial and an apology. Many of the issues raised fall outside the remit of my Department. However, I informed the group that I would consider the matter in consultation with my cabinet colleagues and revert back to them. That consultation is ongoing and I hope to be in a position to respond shortly.

Extradition Arrangements

Questions (221)

Clare Daly

Question:

221. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the State's obligations regarding requests for the issuing of extradition warrants, and provisional arrest warrants, from other States. [35810/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Extradition arrangements between the Member States of the European Union (EU) are governed by the provisions of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, as amended, and, insofar as arrangements between Ireland and other states are concerned, by the Extradition Act 1965, as amended. Section 27 of the Extradition Act deals with provisional arrest.

Traveller Community Issues

Questions (222)

Clare Daly

Question:

222. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in the context that the National Traveller Roma Integration Strategy is a living document, the way he will ensure that the strategy will be progressed in response to the European Commission’s recent assessment and in line with the common basic principles on roma inclusion to immediately initiate dialogue with traveller organisations. [35811/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department is currently collating reports on progress achieved in relation to Traveller actions which are in the National Traveller/Roma Integration Strategy with a view to updating the strategy. It should be noted that Traveller representatives are active participants on National Committees dealing with policy and, in this way, are involved in the development of policy.

In relation to Roma specifically, my Department has been conducting an exercise, since April, to gather available information from Government Departments and other public bodies who interact directly with Roma in Ireland on projects that are in progress, focusing on the four key integration areas: access to education, employment, housing and healthcare, with a view to identifying Roma specific issues and updating the National Traveller/Roma Integration Strategy. Officials of my Department would be happy to engage with Traveller organisations in this context in the Autumn when this initial research is complete.