Legislative Programme

Questions (445)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

445. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress being made in respect of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24666/14]

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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. However, before the Bill could be taken at Report Stage, 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 the Spent Convictions Bill. That review has been completed and amendments to the Vetting Act and consequential amendments to the Spent Convictions Bill are currently being drafted. It is my intention that the Bill will be enacted as soon as possible.

Residency Permits

Questions (446)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

446. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if and when an updated Garda National Immigration Bureau card will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24688/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy was issued with temporary permission to reside on 27 March 2014, valid until 10 August 2014, pending final determination of her application for a permanent residence card. The Garda National Immigration Bureau have however advised that the person concerned has not as of yet registered this temporary permission.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail 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 was of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view inadequate or too long awaited.

Deportation Orders Re-examination

Questions (447)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

447. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in determination of revocation of a deportation order under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24695/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to the Reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 182 on 6 March 2014. The status of the person concerned is as set out in that reply:

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order following a comprehensive and thorough examination of her asylum claim. The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. Representations were received from the person's legal representative asking that her Deportation Order be revoked, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). This application is under consideration at present. When a decision has been made on that application the outcome of that decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Firearms Theft

Questions (448, 449, 450, 451, 452)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

448. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of instances of theft of firearms from firearms dealers' premises in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24696/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

449. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of firearms stolen in each instance of theft from firearms dealers' premises in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24697/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

450. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of each firearm type by reference to handguns, rifles, shotguns, blank firing guns, antique guns and deactivated guns reported stolen in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24698/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

451. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of firearms used in crimes in the past five years that were recovered by the Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24699/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

452. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of firearms recovered from crimes which were identified as having been stolen from licensed firearms' owners, other than firearms stolen from firearms' dealers or members of the Garda or Defence Forces, in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24700/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 448 to 452, inclusive, together.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for a report in relation to these matters and will write to the Deputy when I have further information.

Firearms Licences

Questions (453, 454, 455)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

453. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she or the Garda Commissioner has commissioned an independent risk assessment in accordance with accepted best internationally recognised standards to determine the actual risk associated with lawful firearms' ownership having regard to the legal requirements that apply to firearms licence applicants in this jurisdiction; if no such risk assessment has been undertaken, her views on whether this should be undertaken before any new legislative proposals are considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24701/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

454. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will meet representatives of various sports shooting associations regarding the maladministration of the firearms licensing laws by the Garda Síochána and whose arguments have been supported by almost 600 court judgments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24702/14]

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Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

455. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality having regard to the widespread disquiet among sports shooting organisations at the manner in which the Garda has administered the firearms licensing code over the past four years, the enormous number of court judgments against the Garda arising from their members' complaints and the importance of the integrity of the firearms licensing code for public safety, if she plans to include an examination of the way the Garda conducted the administration of the system in any of the statutory reviews into the Garda and its operations which are planned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24703/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 453 to 455, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, in light of public safety concerns highlighted by the Garda Síochána and difficulties in the interpretation of the legislation expressed by members of the Judiciary, my Department is currently examining key policy, legislative, administrative and other issues relating to firearms licensing in conjunction with the Garda Síochána. I expect to receive and consider a report in relation to these matters in the near future. When I have considered that report I will consider what further action is necessary in relation to the firearms licensing system, including the proposal from interest groups for an examination of relevant administrative issues by the Garda Inspectorate.

Officials of my Department met key interest groups in late 2013 and early 2014 who set out their concerns in relation to a range of issues regarding firearms licensing at that time. These interest groups have also communicated their views directly to me, as well as to all Oireachtas members. Further consultation with relevant stakeholders will take place when I have considered the report and before any decisions are finalised in relation to proposals for change to the firearms licensing system. I will decide on the nature of the consultation and what meetings are appropriate at the time I am considering the report.

In so far as a risk assessment is concerned, I am advised that the draft report has regard to recent relevant EU Commission reports and developments in other jurisdictions in relation to public safety. However, I should say that it is difficult to see how any risk assessment could foresee the tragic events in Dunblane, Scotland in 2006, Utoya, Norway in 2011, Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2012 or Santa Barbara, California in May 2014. Mass shootings are happening with increasing frequency and a common theme is that the firearms used are legally owned. I think it is only right that we consider options now, rather than endure a similar tragedy here, when people will rightly ask why we as legislators did nothing to prevent it.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (456)

Niall Collins

Question:

456. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new members of the Garda Síochána to be recruited this year; the number of applicants who have been accepted to stage three of the application process; how many applicants have been accepted to stage four of the application process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24733/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is intended that the first intake of new Garda trainees who have successfully completed all stages of the recruitment process will enter the Garda College in July of this year. They will participate in the new training programme over the remainder of 2014 and it is expected that they will attest in early 2015. At that stage they will be assigned to Garda stations throughout the country by the Garda Commissioner. It is hoped to have further recruits entering training in Templemore in the remainder of 2014. The precise number of recruits to be included in each intake will be determined by a number of factors including retirements and will be decided shortly.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) is managing the recruitment process for the Garda Commissioner and I have no direct involvement in the matter. I have, however, been informed that some 25,000 applications were received for the current competition. It is understood that around 18,000 candidates completed stage 1 tests, and of these approximately 13,000 reached a satisfactory standard. These 13,000 candidates were placed in three Bands in order of merit. All candidates have been informed by PAS of the results of these tests and of their position in each Band.

The top 5,000 candidates were placed in Band 1. These were then called to the next stages of the competition which involved further online unsupervised assessment tests. The top 600 of the 3,500 who were successful were brought to a supervised assessment centre, and approximately 330 of those successful at this stage were called for interviews. Those successful at interview stage are now being processed through medical examinations, physical tests and security checks. All these tests are designed to identify candidates who are suitable to be a Garda trainee. Candidates who are successful through all stages will be placed on a panel for entry into training in the Garda College.

Garda Training

Questions (457)

Niall Collins

Question:

457. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the college of the Garda Síochána in Templemore in County Tipperary is prepared for the commencement of new Garda recruits; if an academic and training programme has been finalised for the new recruits; if the physical infrastructure of the Garda college is still fit for purpose; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24734/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

A recruitment campaign for new recruits to An Garda Síochána is currently under way, the first since 2009. It is intended that the first intake of new Garda trainees who have successfully completed all stages of the recruitment process will enter the Garda College in July of this year. They will participate in the new training programme over the remainder of 2014 and it is expected that they will attest in early 2015. It is hoped to have further recruits entering training in Templemore in the remainder of 2014. The precise number of recruits to be included in each intake will be determined by a number of factors including retirements and will be decided shortly.

In February 2008 the Garda Commissioner established a group to review training and development for Garda and Civilian staff in the Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Training and Development Review Group Report was published in May 2009. The objective of the review group was to make recommendations to improve and reinvigorate Garda training in line with best practice in order to meet the new challenges of a changing society.

The review group carried out an extensive analysis of the training needs of the Force and consulted widely with staff across all ranks and grades. They engaged with different organisations including the following:

- Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC)

- Garda Inspectorate

- HETEC

- External training providers including

- University College Dublin

- Dublin Institute of Technology

- Institute of Public Administration.

As a result of this review the student/probationer training programme has been radically restructured into three phases. Phase I is for 32 weeks at the Garda College, at the end of which successful students will be attested (i.e. become members of the Garda Síochána with full police powers). Phase II is for 65 weeks based in Garda stations, and Phase III consists of seven weeks of exam preparation, exams and assessments (total 104 weeks). The new programme will now result in an award of a Bachelor of Arts (Level 7) in Police Studies, and the programme will be delivered using a problem based learning approach.

The main differences between the new and the current programme is that the new programme carries a greater emphasis on operational policing and focuses on real life scenarios which in turn prepare students better for the policing challenges they will face. The new programme will also instil a lifelong learning philosophy for members of the Garda Síochána, with a suite of mandatory and elective courses made available. In terms of the Garda College itself, the Office of Public Works is undertaking work to the accommodation with four blocks having been completed to date. Competitions for the filling of staff requirements at Garda, Sergeant and Inspector rank to act as Instructors at the Garda College are currently under way.

Garda Investigations

Questions (458)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

458. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her Department has any records of any Garda investigations of the mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway that was run by Sisters of Bon Secours; if any reports to her Department note the high level of infant mortality in the home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24795/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, an interdepartmental process is under way to examine how these complex and tragic circumstances can be best addressed, beginning by gathering information from all relevant Departments. My Department is participating in this process but as it did not have a role in relation to the inspection of institutions of this nature, or in monitoring levels of infant mortality, it would not have records of the type referred to by the Deputy.

Hospice Services

Questions (459)

Noel Grealish

Question:

459. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 359 of 10 April 2014, if funding to address the shortfall and capital funding for expansion to Galway Hospice in 2012 was put in place; if not, the reasons this funding was not put in place; the timeframe within which it will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24207/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has again been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Card Reviews

Questions (460, 524, 529, 571, 574)

Dara Calleary

Question:

460. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if discretionary medical card applicants who had their cards removed upon review in the past two years will have them restored in view of the recent announcement that reviews of such cards are to be suspended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24087/14]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

524. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health in view of the recent decision to cease reviewing discretionary medical cards, if he will ensure that everyone who had a discretionary medical card and lost it will have it reinstated to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24478/14]

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Charlie McConalogue

Question:

529. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health if spina bifida and hydrocephalus will be included in the list of conditions for entitlement to a medical card; if not the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24492/14]

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Robert Troy

Question:

571. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that a discretionary medical card is reinstated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [24789/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

574. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if an application for a medical card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be reassessed as a matter of urgency in view of the fact that their medical card granted on a discretionary basis was recently withdrawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24801/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 460, 524, 529, 571 and 574 together.

The Government has decided to develop a new policy framework for eligibility for the award of medical cards to take account of on-going medical conditions. The HSE has established an Expert Panel to examine the range of conditions that should be considered as a basis of eligibility and has been asked to make an early report to Government. In this context, the HSE has decided to suspend reviews of medical cards where discretion had been exercised to take account of medical circumstances, pending the outcome of this process. This includes people who are currently in the appeals process. The HSE has extended eligibility of the individuals concerned, who are in the process of being advised in the normal way.

The Government is examining how best to address the situation of persons with serious medical conditions who had been issued with a medical card on a discretionary basis, but who have already completed the review process (and appeal process, as relevant) and who are not eligible to retain that card. The Government is examining the most effective and timely way of progressing such change.

Health Services Staff Remuneration

Questions (461)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

461. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health when his Department will grant a lump sum gratuity owed to a retired person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24090/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is an operational matter, I have referred the question to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Card Applications

Questions (462)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

462. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health if he will investigate the circumstances regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4; if he will review the refusal of a medical card in respect of the person in view of the fact that their condition is incurable and progressive; if a medical card will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24137/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has issued to Oireachtas members.