Inquiries into Garda Activities

Questions (396)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

396. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will call for a full and independent inquiry into the practice, policy and procedure regarding the policing of the Corrib gas project over the past several years in view of the large number of issues and complaints made over this time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14756/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Significant protest activity over a number of years has occurred in the North Mayo area connected with the development of a very important natural resource. This has necessitated the temporary redeployment of large numbers of Gardaí, including specially trained personnel, from throughout the Western Region into the Belmullet District.

It is deeply regrettable that so many Garda resources have to be tied up in the policing of protest activity at this location. However, this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors, many of whom, as I have said previously, are not from the area and engage in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated. The aim of the policing measures currently in place is to prevent public order offences and to ensure that people can go about their lawful business.

The Deputy may wish to note that from 2011 to 2013, 38 defendants were brought before the courts for public order offences, criminal damage and assault on Gardaí. The total cost of policing these protests has now reached in excess of €16m. This does not include the significant cost of the basic salaries of the members of An Garda Síochána who have performed duties at the Corrib Gas Project as these arise in the normal course. Such expenditure comes at a time of economic difficulty for the State and when such resources could be put to far better use elsewhere.

While the Garda role in policing the Corrib protests has given rise to a number of complaints being made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, it should be borne in mind that the majority of these were either found to be inadmissible or not to disclose wrongdoing on the part of the members of the force complained about. Given these circumstances I do not see a necessity for an independent inquiry into the policing operation in north County Mayo.

Garda Training

Questions (397)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

397. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the training available in Templemore in Assist and SafeTalk training; if he will support the suicide awareness training for all gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14758/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to my response to question number 409 of 11th March 2014. The position remains the same.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that during their training, all Student/Probationer Gardaí received instruction on the issue of suicide. Historically, instruction was given to Student Gardaí which included an overview of suicide, suicide statistics, parasuicide, deliberate self harm, bullying, prisoners etc. This instruction was given to prepare Student Gardai for dealing with such occurrences on other phases of their training. The new training programme in which new recruits will be taking part, includes a two day internationally recognised ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) suicide prevention programme which will be co-delivered with the Health Service Executive (HSE). There are currently three staff members trained as ASIST trainers and the programme will be co-facilitated with HSE staff. The ASIST programme is a suicide first aid programme which equips students with the skills required to discuss suicide with a person at risk and to make an intervention to reduce the immediate risk of suicide. In addition to the foregoing, there have been 35 Gardaí trained in ASIST community workshops which have taken place in the Garda College since 2011, co-facilitated by HSE staff. ASIST workshops also take place throughout the country with Divisional participation.

Legislative Process

Questions (398)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

398. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill; the timeframe for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14762/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 has passed Committee Stage in the Dáil, having passed all stages in the Seanad. My intention is to have the Bill enacted and commenced at the earliest possible date. Before the Bill could be taken at Report Stage, however, a 2013 UK Court of Appeal judgment necessitated a review of the disclosure provisions in both the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and in the Spent Convictions Bill. That review has now been completed and it is expected that it will be possible to complete the passage of the Bill later this year.

Legislative Process

Questions (399)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

399. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013. [14791/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill was published in July 2013. In September 2013 a consultation symposium was held by my Department to elicit the views of interested parties on the policies and text as reflected in the Bill as published and submissions arising from this continue to be received and examined. This is an extremely important and far-reaching Bill which in effect re-writes the present law relating to how we deal with issues relating to decision-making by persons who have difficulty in making decisions unaided. As the Deputy will be aware, there has been extensive consultation on this Bill over a long period since the publication of Heads of the Bill originally in 2008, on foot of which the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality carried out a public consultation process. An extensive and informative Second Stage debate on the Bill took place in Dáil Éireann on 3 and 11 December last and the Bill passed Second Stage on 11 December. At present my Department is preparing amendments for Committee Stage and, as the Deputy will also be aware, this will include provisions for Advance Healthcare Directives which are being prepared by the Department of Health. The intention is to progress to Committee stage before the summer.

Departmental Funding

Questions (400)

John O'Mahony

Question:

400. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of funding allocated by his Department in County Mayo, and the list of projects that benefited in 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14895/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that details of projects in County Mayo allocated funding by my Department in 2011, 2012, 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 are listed as follows:

Project

2011

(€)

2012

(€)

2013

(€)

2014 - Q1

(€)

Mayo Intercultural Action Ltd

(European Refugee Fund 2010 Call)

43,818

44,918

7,782

-

Mayo Intercultural Action Ltd

(European Refugee Fund 2013 Call)

-

-

53,351

-

Mayo Intercultural Action Ltd (Equality for Women Measure)

49,717

82,116

-

-

Castlebar Youth Action Project

(Garda Youth Diversion Project)

87,465

109,747

108,500

27,125

Mayo Women's Support Services

1,000

900

1,000

-

Mayo Children's Initiative

5,000

3,500

-

-

Mayo Rape Crisis Centre

-

2,000

-

-

Mayo Women's Domestic Violence Service

21,800

23,000

23,000

21,500

South West Mayo Development Company (Equality for Women Measure)

50,000

83,333

35,000

-

Mayo County Council (Funding for Mayo Traveller Inter-agency Group Project)

-

1,200

2,850

-

Youth Action Ballina

(Garda Youth Diversion Project)

119,023

124,523

118,500

29,625

Garda Inspectorate Reports

Questions (401)

Billy Timmins

Question:

401. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he received the report from the Garda Inspectorate (details supplied) dealing with penalty points; when it was published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14929/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána Inspectorate furnished me with a copy of its ninth report 'The Fixed Charge Processing System: a 21st Century Strategy' on the 28th of February 2014. The report was laid before the houses of the Oireachtas and published on my Department's website on the 12th of March 2014. The report was debated in full in the House on 26 March, 2014.

The Action Plan which I published together with the Inspectorate’s Report prescribes a time scale for the implementation of the recommendations made and also noted where action had already been taken or commenced by An Garda Síochána to implement some of the recommendations. The Criminal Justice Working Group, which the Inspectorate recommended be established to oversee implementation of the changes required, met the day immediately following publication of the Inspectorate's report.

Inquiries into Garda Activities

Questions (402)

Finian McGrath

Question:

402. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will support an independent inquiry into policing of the Corrib gas project as proposed by Action for Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14935/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Significant protest activity over a number of years has occurred in the North Mayo area connected with the development of a very important natural resource. This has necessitated the temporary redeployment of large numbers of Gardaí, including specially trained personnel, from throughout the Western Region into the Belmullet District.

It is deeply regrettable that so many Garda resources have to be tied up in the policing of protest activity at this location. However, this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors, many of whom, as I have said previously, are not from the area and engage in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated. The aim of the policing measures currently in place is to prevent public order offences and to ensure that people can go about their lawful business.

The Deputy may wish to note that from 2011 to 2013, 38 defendants were brought before the courts for public order offences, criminal damage and assault on Gardaí. The total cost of policing these protests has now reached in excess of €16m. This does not include the significant cost of the basic salaries of the members of An Garda Siochana who have performed duties at the Corrib Gas Project as these arise in the normal course. Such expenditure comes at a time of economic difficulty for the State and when such resources could be put to far better use elsewhere.

While the Garda role in policing the Corrib protests has given rise to a number of complaints being made to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, it should be borne in mind that the majority of these were either found to be inadmissible or not to disclose wrongdoing on the part of the members of the force complained about. Given these circumstances I do not see a necessity for an independent inquiry into the policing operation in north County Mayo.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (403)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

403. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce changes which would make mediation mandatory in family law cases prior to family law court proceedings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14939/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that I intend to publish the Mediation Bill later this year. The Bill, which is currently at an advanced stage of drafting, will promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs and speeding up the resolution of disputes.

The forthcoming Bill will introduce an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise any person wishing to commence court proceedings to consider mediation as a means of resolving the matter before embarking on such proceedings. It will also provide that a court may, following the commencement of any such proceedings, on its own initiative invite parties to consider the mediation option and suspend the proceedings to facilitate such a process. Mediation is, however, a voluntary process and I have no plans to make it mandatory in family law cases. As the Deputy is aware, I am strongly in favour of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, especially in the area of family law. Where the parties can reach agreement without recourse to the courts, it is generally better for them and in particular for any children they may have. Such agreed solutions can create better and more sustainable outcomes for the family concerned.

It has to be recognised however that not all cases are suitable for mediation. It may not be appropriate, for example, where there are entrenched disputes or a serious imbalance in power between the parties. It would also be inappropriate to require the parties to engage in mediation in cases involving domestic violence. While I will continue to promote and support mediation and other forms of dispute resolution where feasible and appropriate, I do not intend to make it mandatory for family law cases.

Garda Investigations

Questions (404)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

404. Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the review of documents and evidence in the matter of the unlawful death of Fr. Niall Molloy in County Offaly. [14956/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 40 and 41 of 27 February 2014 wherein I informed the House of the formal appointment of Mr. Dominic McGinn, Senior Counsel, to carry out an independent examination of the report of the Serious Crime Review Team relating to the Garda investigation into the death of Fr. Niall Molloy.

As I have previously outlined, it is intended that the examination would serve two functions:

- in accordance with his terms of reference, Mr. McGinn will prepare a report on any issues of public interest which may arise from the report of the Serious Crime Review Team, with due regard to the rights of those involved, so as to facilitate his report being put into the public domain, and

- in so far as the question of any further inquiry is concerned, Mr. McGinn's terms of reference require that, taking into account existing mechanisms for the investigation of offences, he identify matters, if any, of significant public interest or concern which would warrant examination by a further inquiry and in respect of which such further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.

My immediate priority is to allow Mr. McGinn to carry out his examination so that the maximum amount of information can be put into the public domain at the earliest possible date, at which point I will also give full consideration to the outcome of the examination concerning any further inquiry.

Garda Equipment

Questions (405)

Seán Kenny

Question:

405. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of mountain bikes allocated to each Garda district in the Dublin region in 2011, 2012 and 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14958/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities. I will be in contact with the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Garda Operations

Questions (406)

Seán Kenny

Question:

406. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount An Garda Síochána received from the GAA towards the cost of policing the All-Ireland finals at Croke Park in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14959/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested the information sought from the Garda authorities and I will revert to Deputy in due course as soon as the information is to hand.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (407)

Dan Neville

Question:

407. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of anti-social behaviour orders that were served in each year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. [15017/14]

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.

Legal Aid Service

Questions (408)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

408. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the waiting times for each of the legal aid centres, with a breakdown between criminal, civil, and family law cases. [15036/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Criminal Legal Aid - I wish to inform the Deputy that there is no waiting period associated with the granting of criminal legal aid as under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, the Courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid upon the applicant's appearance in Court.

Civil Legal Aid

I am advised that the Legal Aid Board does not maintain separate waiting lists for family and non-family law cases and therefore, subject to its own prioritisation measures for certain case types such as domestic violence, the waiting period for a family law case is generally the same as the waiting period for a non-family law case.

I further wish to inform the Deputy that demand for legal services from the Legal Aid Board (“the Board”) has increased significantly since the down-turn in the economy and this has led to an increase in waiting time. The waiting times as of 1 March, 2014 are set out in the table below. Demand in 2013 was at the same level as it was in 2012 and while there was a 10% drop in demand at the general law centres in 2012 compared to 2011, nevertheless the demand for general legal services (excluding asylum) in 2011 was 93% greater than it was in 2006. The Board has not been subject to the sort of cuts to its grant-in-aid that other public service bodies have had to experience and I have been able to maintain the Board’s grant-in-aid at the same level for 2014 as it was in the previous three years.

Nevertheless it is a challenging environment that has resulted in lengthened waiting times for those seeking legal services for matters that are not prioritised. I know that waiting times are a matter of constant concern to the Board and that it keeps them under very active review. I am also aware that the Board is constantly keeping the delivery of its services under review with a view to getting legal services to those most in need of them as quickly as possible.

Notwithstanding the pressures on resources, the Government has further supported the Board by approving exemptions from the moratorium to enable the organisation to recruit front-line staff for direct service delivery. The Public Appointments Service concluded a solicitor recruitment competition for the Board last year from which a number of permanent appointments have been made and a number of temporary positions have also been filled.

In September 2013 I signed into law by way of Regulations, a package of proposals from the Board for the revision of the financial eligibility and contributions provisions governing the granting of civil legal aid. The Regulations include a reduction in the capital eligibility threshold for legal services and they also include increases in the contributions payable by most persons seeking legal services. These provisions should have some impact, albeit relatively marginal, on the resources available to the Board.

In response to the changed environment the Board has taken steps to try and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of its legal services. Those steps include the following:

The Board has been piloting a ‘triage’ approach to service delivery and this approach is operative in most of its centres at this stage. The pilot is in response to lengthening waiting times. The aim of the ‘triage’ approach is that every applicant gets to see a solicitor within a period of one month for the purpose of getting legal advice (consultations are broadly limited to 45 minutes). If the applicant requires further services they remain on the ‘waiting list’. There is or has been a ‘backlog’ of applicants to be seen for triage purposes hence it is taking time to reduce the waiting time for such an appointment to one month. Where the triage approach is operative there is a waiting time for the triage appointment and a waiting time for the second consultation. A first review of the operation of the pilot indicated that clients were satisfied with this particular service initiative. This was because they got early access to a solicitor for advice on their legal disputes that provided clarity about the options open to them and the process through which their disputes might be resolved.

In August 2012 the Board introduced a new case management system in its law centres. This is a ‘start to end’ system which will in the medium term deliver efficiencies in terms of the administration aspect as well as in relation to the delivery of the legal services. It will take time for the full benefits of this system to materialise.

In November 2011 I transferred responsibility for the management and administration of the State funded family mediation service to the Board. A key reason for this transferring was to improve the synergies between the State funded family mediation services and the State funded civil legal aid services (most of the demand for legal services is in the area of family law). Improving the synergies will be for the benefit of the customer and will help move away from a ‘litigation first’ approach that may on occasion be too common. Already there are very positive signs from a pilot initiative operating in Dolphin House (where the Dublin District Family Court sits) involving the co-location of the courts and a mediation service with a legal service located there also. Similar initiatives have now been introduced in Cork and Naas and are being evaluated. I know that the Board is working particularly hard on promoting mediation as a meaningful option.

While the Board’s asylum related legal services were previously funded from a separate grant, since 2012 I have funded the Board on the basis of a single ‘grant-in-aid’. With the drop in demand for asylum, the Board has taken steps to integrate the delivery of its asylum related services into the general law centre service delivery model thus effectively transferring resources from the asylum area to the general legal service area where the demands have increased.

I am aware that the Board has maintained a high level of usage of private solicitors for family law cases in the District Court. Cases in the District Court are often those that need the most immediate remedy.

I am also aware that the Board continues to engage with other key players in the justice/legal area such as the Courts Service and the HSE (now the Child and Family Agency), with a view to trying to ensure that State funded resources that impact on its area of business are used to best effect.

I am very conscious of the difficulties that delays in accessing legal aid can give rise to and I am aware that the Board is also keenly aware of those difficulties and is working to ensure the delays are minimised to the greatest extent possible.

Waiting times – 1 March, 2014

Law Centre

Part-Time Centre

Waiting time for a first consultation

[Weeks]

Further waiting time for a second consultation

(centres operating triage)

[Weeks]

-

Athlone

24

9

Athlone

Mullingar

24

10

Blanchardstown

-

25

n/a

Castlebar

-

17

42

Cavan

-

20

22

Clondalkin

-

5

31

Cork North

-

40

15

Cork South

-

64

54

Dundalk

-

16

n/a

Ennis

-

23

20

Finglas

-

30

6

Galway Francis St

-

29

53

Galway Seville House

-

12

16

Gardiner Street

-

17

42

Kilkenny

Carlow

3

45

-

Kilkenny

3

44

Letterkenny

-

18

40

Limerick

-

44

n/a

Longford

-

29

29

Monaghan

Drogheda

17

n/a

-

Monaghan

22

n/a

Montague Court

-

22

n/a

Navan

-

17

24

Nenagh

-

4

35

Newbridge

-

8

43

Personal Injuries Unit

-

n/a

n/a

Portlaoise

-

48

59

-

Boyle

5

24

Sligo

Sligo

7

27

Smithfield

-

44

35

Tallaght

-

17

23

Tralee

-

22

n/a

Tullamore

-

17

n/a

Waterford

-

24

n/a

Wexford

-

47

7

Wicklow

-

13

n/a

Residency Permits

Questions (409)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

409. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and-or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15057/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy arrived in the State on 15/10/2009 and was granted permission to 07/08/2012 under student conditions. Since that date this person has remained in the State without the appropriate permission. This is in breach of Section 5(1) of the Immigration Act 2004 which provides that no non-national may be in the State other than in accordance with the terms of any permission given to him by or on behalf of the Minister. Furthermore, Section 5(2) of the Act provides that a non-national who is in the State in contravention of subsection (1) is for all purposes unlawfully present in the State.

The person concerned should immediately contact their local Garda Immigration Officer.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by email 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 email service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Garda Commissioner Appointment

Questions (410)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

410. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons he gave an extension of time in his post to the former Commissioner Martin Callinan; the way he evaluates such requests for extension, in view of the fact that the previous Commissioner, who also sought an extension, was refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15082/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The authority to make an appointment to the position of Garda Commissioner is vested in the Government, as stated in section 9 of The Garda Síochána Act 2005 - "The appointment of a person to be the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána shall be made by the Government". On 13 November 2012, the Government exercised that authority by extending the term of office of Commissioner Callinan to 7 August 2015. The previous Commissioner, Fachtna Murphy, was also granted an extension to his term of office by the then Government.

Residency Permits

Questions (411)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

411. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure to be followed to update residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15085/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy arrived in the State on 27/08/2012 and was granted permission to be in the State as a student. Her most recent permissions on a "stamp 2" basis expired on 26/08/2013. She does not have an application pending with INIS. This person is advised to examine the new student pathway on the Department's website www.inis.gov.ie.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by email 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 email service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Questions (412)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

412. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15089/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy arrived in the State on 16/11/2002 and was granted permission as a work permit holder to remain up to 4/11/2003. He re-entered the State on 16/09/2010 and was granted permission as a work permit holder to remain up to 27/01/2012. Since that date this person has remained in the State without the appropriate permission. This is in breach of Section 5(1) of the Immigration Act 2004 which provides that no non-national may be in the State other than in accordance with the terms of any permission given to him by or on behalf of the Minister. Furthermore, Section 5(2) of the Act provides that a non-national who is in the State in contravention of subsection (1) is for all purposes unlawfully present in the State.

The person concerned should immediately contact their local Garda Immigration Officer.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by email 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 email service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.