Commissions of Inquiry

Questions (172)

Clare Daly

Question:

172. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will initiate a full independent inquiry into the allegations that he has received of serious systems failures, corruption, malpractice and cover-up in the case of a person (details supplied), or to refer those matters to Mr. Guerin for consideration as part of his inquiry. [15545/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I requested a report from the Garda Commissioner on the allegations raised in relation to the person referred to. While a report has been received I have sought clarification from the Commissioner on a number of points. When the additional information is to hand I will be in a position to further review the matter and consider what action is appropriate. I have an entirely open mind in that context.

I have advised the person who made the allegations that I will respond further to him when I have had an opportunity to consider the additional information from the Commissioner.

The Government has appointed Sean Guerin SC to conduct an independent inquiry into certain allegations made by Sergeant Maurice McCabe. The Government also, on the advice of the Attorney General, agreed the Terms of Reference for the inquiry, and there are no proposals to amend these.

Sports Fraud

Questions (173, 174, 175)

Robert Dowds

Question:

173. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is criminal justice legislation which provides for a definition of what constitutes sports fraud, which can involve match fixing or other related behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15546/14]

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Robert Dowds

Question:

174. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is criminal justice legislation currently in place to tackle sports fraud, which can involve match fixing or other related behaviour; and if not, his views on whether such legislation should be brought forward. [15547/14]

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Robert Dowds

Question:

175. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the powers gardaí currently have under the law to bring forward prosecutions of those involved in sports fraud, or match fixing of sporting events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15548/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 to 175, inclusive, together.

There are no criminal offences specific to match fixing and fraud within the area of sport, however, when investigating and prosecuting such behaviour the Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions have available to them a range of fraud and corruption offences under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001, the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889 to 2010 and the Common Law.

Responsibility for policy on sports and offences specific to the manipulation of sports competitions would lie with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Officials of that Department represent Ireland at negotiations on the development of a Council of Europe Convention Against the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. The draft Convention includes a range of measures to both prevent and incriminate match-fixing and related behaviour.

Legal Aid Service Waiting Times

Questions (176)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

176. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the percentage of clients of Legal Aid Board centres which operate a triage system who are getting to see a solicitor within one month. [15566/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Legal Aid 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’. A first review of the operation of the pilot indicated that clients were satisfied with this particular service initiative. This was because they got relatively 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.

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. As of 1 March 2014 waiting times for a first consultation were less than one month for all applicants at two law centres operating triage. On 1 March there were 112 people waiting at these centres representing 5% of the total numbers waiting for a first consultation at centres operating triage.

While the Board aims for all applicants to receive a triage appointment within one month, in O’Donoghue v Legal Aid Board ([2006] 4 IR 204) the High Court held that four months was not an unreasonable time for an applicant to wait for legal services. In eight centres operating triage waiting times for a first consultation are less than four months. Approximately 31% of the applicants who were waiting for a service at a law centre operating triage as of 1 March will receive a service within four months. There are also four further centres that do not operate triage on the basis that their waiting time for a substantive appointment with a solicitor is under four months.

It should also be noted that the Board operates a “priority” service in certain cases. Where a priority service is offered for the particular case type applicants are given the first available appointment with a solicitor. Details of the case types that are treated as priority are listed below. During February 2014, 15% of the total numbers who received a first consultation were given an early appointment on the basis of the matter being priority.

Priority is given to applicants seeking legal services in the following categories of cases:-

- child abduction proceedings;

- where there is a real danger of children being taken out of the jurisdiction without the consent of the applicant;

- proceedings on foot of Part IV of the Child Care Act 1991 or applicants presenting with cases that involve a risk of such proceedings;

- domestic violence;

- where a maintenance debtor has been served with a summons / warrant on foot of section 9A of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, has appeared in Court and has applied for civil legal aid having been advised of his/her entitlement to do so by the Judge;

- where, under the Statute of Limitations, there is a danger that the time limits for issuing proceedings may expire unless immediate action is taken;

- where there is a danger of time limits expiring;

- where there is a danger that assets may be reduced / disposed of so that they would be unavailable to meet the claims of the applicant;

- District Court and Circuit Court appeals, where the case has been dealt with through the private practitioner service and services are now being sought from the law centre;

- legal services for complainants in rape and certain sexual assault cases;

- legal aid for persons in respect of whom a sex offenders order is being sought;

- where the other party’s nationality, domicile or habitual residence enables them to seek a similar remedy in another jurisdiction and the applicant is likely to be prejudiced if he/she does not initiate proceedings first;

- asylum cases; and

- managing solicitors retain a residual discretion to provide a priority service in other cases where, having regard to the particular case concerned, as compared with other applications on the applications record, and to their own knowledge and experience, they consider that it is appropriate that a particular applicant be given specific priority over other applicants for legal services.

Garda Inspectorate Reports

Questions (177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

177. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is now a mechanism in place to inform all offenders of the cancellation petition policy of the fixed charge processing system as contained in recommendation 3.10 of the Garda Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15583/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

178. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if cancellation authority in respect of fixed charge notices has now been centralised in the fixed charge processing office only as has been recommended in recommendation 3.8 of the Garda Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15584/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

179. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to bring forward legislation to clarify when and the way fixed charge notices can be cancelled on a discretionary basis as has been recommended in recommendation 3.2 of the Garda Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15585/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

180. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the fixed charge processing system manual has been updated as has been recommended in recommendation 2.1 contained in the Garda Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15589/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

181. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Garda Síochána fixed charge processing office has introduced an electronic document scanning and management system as suggested in recommendation 2.8 contained in the Garda Síochána Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15590/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

182. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a review of the summons serving process is being undertaken by An Garda Síochána to examine the reasons for the significant level of unserved summonses as referred to in recommendation 2.7 contained in the Garda Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy. [15591/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

183. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a system is now in place to ensure that retired members of An Garda Síochána or persons who cease to be members of An Garda Síochána for other reasons are deactivated on the PULSE system from the date the employee ceases to be a member of An Garda Síochána in accordance with recommendation 3.1 contained in the Garda Síochána Inspectorate report entitled The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15592/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 to 183, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Criminal Justice (Fixed Charge Processing System) Working Group has been established to oversee and facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Garda Inspectorate into the Fixed Charge Processing System. In doing so, the Group will have particular regard to the Action Plan, which I published on 12 March, 2014. The Group will report regularly to myself and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The Action Plan sets out the position with respect to the Recommendations contained in the Report, including the Recommendations referred to by the Deputy above, and identifies whether they are actions which have already been taken or commenced by An Garda Síochána or envisaged to be dealt with within 6-8 weeks, in the medium or indeed in the longer term. In that regard items 2.7, 2.8 and 3.1 are identified as being already underway or for immediate commencement, items 2.1, 3.8, 3.10 are for implementation within 6-8 weeks whereas item 3.2 is a medium term objective.