Legal Aid Applications

Questions (188)

John Deasy

Question:

188. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will detail the means test carried out by the Legal Aid Board for persons who are seeking their services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15653/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to refer the Deputy to the Civil Legal Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 - 2013 which set out the basis concerning financial eligibility for civil legal aid.

Information concerning financial eligibility is also available on the Legal Aid Board's website and may be accessed via the following link: http://www.legalaidboard.ie/lab/Publishing.nsf/Content/How_do_I_qualify.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (189)

Billy Timmins

Question:

189. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the letter from the former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, regarding recording and retention of telephone conversations in Garda stations to the Secretary General in his Department of 10 March 2014; when the letter arrived in his Department; when he received the letter and where the letter was in the interim period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15664/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Government has decided to set up a statutory Commission of Investigation into the recording of telephone calls in certain Garda stations. In this context the Government have agreed that the Commission of Investigation should examine all matters of public concern relating to the issue of taping of conversations in Garda Stations.

The Government have also decided to appoint Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly, currently serving as a Judge of the Supreme Court, as Chair of the Commission of Investigation which is to be established under the 2004 Act. The full terms of reference will be finalised shortly in consultation with Mr. Justice Fennelly.

As the Deputy will be aware, the recording of telephone calls in Garda stations is the subject of a report which was circulated by the Secretary General of my Department yesterday. This report, which is available on the website of my Department (www.justice.ie ), deals inter alia with certain issues arising in relation to the Garda Commissioner's letter of 10 March 2014.

It would not be appropriate for me to comment in relation to additional matters which will be addressed in the context of the establishment of the Commission of Investigation.

Irish Prison Service

Questions (190)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

190. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any phones in Irish prisons are being or have ever been recorded or monitored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15678/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service does not record calls made by any prison-based staff or officials based in its headquarters. The Irish Prison Service phone system keeps a log of all landline calls made to and from individual prisons and headquarters but this is a log only, containing data such as the number dialled from, number dialled, date and time of call, and duration.

At present, the Prisoner Phone System records all prisoner calls with the exception of two call channels which are left unrecorded. These are channel 1 which is assigned to the prisoner’s solicitor and channel 99 which is assigned to the Samaritans. The prisoner is fully aware of the fact that they are recorded as his/her consent is given on his/her nomination form which he/she signs shortly after committal. This is in accordance with rule 46 of the Prison Rules, 2007.

On Tuesday 1 April, I was informed of an anomaly whereby 139 prisoners currently in custody had, or previously had, more than one solicitor on the Prisoner Phone System and who had their phone calls to the second solicitor inadvertently recorded as they were outside the restriction parameters that were then in place on the system. This anomaly has potentially been in place since July 2010 when the current Phone System was introduced. Since the introduction of this system, a total of 2,842 calls between a prisoner and a second solicitor have been recorded. 1,749 such calls relate to the 139 prisoners currently in custody who have or who previously had a second solicitor listed on the system.

In these cases, and with immediate effect, the Irish Prison Service took steps to ensure that all previously recorded calls were made inaccessible to staff members. In addition, action was immediately taken on the Prisoner Telephone System to prevent staff adding multiple solicitors to the system. An interim measure has been put in place to deal with this matter and it is expected that a permanent solution will be in place within a number of weeks.

I can further advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service have confirmed that the content of any of the inadvertently recorded phone calls has never been made available to any third party including any member of An Garda Síochána. In order for An Garda Síochána to get copies of any recorded phone conversations by prisoners, they need to firstly make an application at Superintendent level to the Irish Prison Service providing the specific details and reasons that they require same. The Irish Prison Service have categorically stated that they have never approved the provision of a copy of a prisoner’s phone calls to his/her solicitor to An Garda Síochána under any circumstances.

The Irish Prison Service intends to write to the solicitors of the prisoners who are affected to inform them of this situation and to apologise for the inadvertent recording of the calls.

Finally, I have asked the Inspector of Prisons to carry out an urgent independent investigation into all the circumstances surrounding the recording of telephone conversations between prisoners and their solicitors. The Inspector has been asked to carry out his investigation pursuant to section 31 of the Prisons Act, 2007 and to submit his report to me as soon as possible. The Inspector’s report will be published.

VAT Rate Application

Questions (191)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

191. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to ensure that processors have passed on the increase in the unregistered farmers VAT rebate to their farmer suppliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15461/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The farmer’s flat-rate addition of VAT was increased from 4.8% to 5% with effect from 1 January 2014 as announced in the budget. The flat-rate scheme compensates unregistered farmers for VAT incurred on their farming inputs, and is reviewed annually in accordance with the EU VAT Directive. Compliance with tax legislation is however a matter for the Office of Revenue Commissioners.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Applications

Questions (192)

Pat Breen

Question:

192. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 177 of 19 February 2014, when a decision on REP scheme 4 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15470/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The review of this case is complete and payment of €5,261.34 has issued to the applicant named.

Dairy Equipment Scheme Applications

Questions (193)

Pat Breen

Question:

193. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 620 of 18 February 2014, when an application for DES grant will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15489/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person concerned is an applicant under the TAMS Dairy Equipment Scheme and submitted an application in the final tranche which closed on 31 December 2013. My Department has already acknowledged the receipt of the application and I expect a decision to be made in relation to the application in the near future.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (194)

John O'Mahony

Question:

194. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15491/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in October 2009 and received payments for the first four years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following a review of the file, a potential area clawback was identified. This issue is currently being investigated and the Department will notify the person named of the outcome.