Refugee Resettlement Programme

Questions (148)

Catherine Martin


148. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason there has been no refugee resettlement program in Dublin to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7767/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Government established a Taskforce in September 2015 to manage and coordinate the logistical aspects of resettling people in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Minister Charles Flanagan T.D. and I participate in the Taskforce which is composed of key Government Departments, State Agencies and non-State actors.

Concern was expressed by the Taskforce at the difficulty in identifying suitable social housing solutions in the main urban centres due to the high demand for housing and the limited supply available in these locations. It was agreed by the Taskforce that a Housing Sub-Group would be established to co-ordinate the provision of medium to long-term housing accommodation for the people arriving under the IRPP relocation and resettlement programmes.

This sub-Group was comprised of the following members: -

- Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

- City and County Management Association

- Department of Justice and Equality

- Irish Red Cross.

The sub-Group prepared an approach for resettling people arriving under the IRPP according to a series of objective criteria including the population size of the county into which they were to be resettled.  The Taskforce adopted this approach and decided to exclude the Dublin local authorities (and other local authorities with responsibility for major urban areas) from the initial distribution of refugees into accommodation sourced by the local authorities because of the pressure on housing supply in those areas.  This decision may be reviewed by the Taskforce in the future. 

However, it should be noted that the Irish Red Cross coordinates a programme of voluntarily pledged accommodation for people arriving under the IRPP.  Pledged accommodation is sourced in urban areas across Ireland, including in Dublin.  So far 26 persons have been accommodated in Dublin through this option and I anticipate that further persons will be accommodated in Dublin in the months ahead.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration

Questions (149)

Catherine Martin


149. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the processing times for all EUTR applications, EUTR reviews and EUTR retention reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7768/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can assure the Deputy that the primary consideration of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is to process applications for residence permits by family members of EU citizens exercising free movement rights in compliance with the requirements of Community law. 

I am informed by INIS that there is a significant number of cases on hand arising from a sustained increase in applications since 2014.  This has impacted on processing times which range from 3 to 12 months from date of receipt of application. There is, however, a small cohort of complex cases that are outside this timeframe.

INIS appreciates the impact of associated delays on the persons concerned and has taken a number of measures to address the backlog including the assignment of additional staff resources and the sanction of regular overtime.  I am also advised that the resources available for these activities, and the accompanying operational and organisational structures are kept under ongoing review to ensure that resources are deployed as efficiently as possible. 

Cognisance must also be given to wider policy issues and, in that regard, INIS has serious concerns that a significant number of applications are indicative of potential abuse of the Common Travel Area (CTA).  The Deputy will appreciate that such concerns require us to have in place investigations and fair procedures.  While INIS is committed to processing applications with the objective of achieving the highest possible level of efficiency for applicants, this must be balanced with safeguarding the integrity of the operation of the CTA and the State's immigration system.

Immigration Status

Questions (150)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


150. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and the status of same. [7777/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department that the immigration arrangements which apply to all non-EEA persons who wish to avail of the Third Level Graduate Programme from 31 May 2017 onwards are set out in the policy document “Third Level Graduate Programme Immigration Rules for Non-EEA students” published in May 2017.

I am further advised that, in accordance with this policy document, the Third Level Graduate Programme is confined to graduates who have completed their studies in Ireland and have been awarded a qualification at Level 8 or above of the National Framework of Qualifications by a recognised Irish awarding body. As an exceptional measure, students enrolled on or before 31 May 2017 in a programme leading to an equivalent award at Level 9 of the National Framework of Qualifications but accredited by an overseas awarding body may apply for a six months’ permission on Stamp 1G conditions. This provision will cease with effect from 31 August 2018.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department 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 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.

Gender Recognition

Questions (151)

Joan Burton


151. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if her Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7562/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

There are currently no guidelines that deal specifically with transgender matters. My Department is however strongly committed to equality of opportunity in all its employment practices. In this regard it strives to ensure that all staff can be confident that their rights under the Employment Equality Acts are guaranteed and that no one will receive less favourable treatment because of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community. The Dignity at Work Policy and the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour also set out important requirements in this regard.  

Circular 42 of 2001 and Circular 24 of 2002 set out policies in respect of gender equality and equality of opportunity respectively. HR policy is set centrally by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and they are the appropriate Department to advise as to whether any update to these polices, or if a new policy relating to transgender matters, is being considered.

My Department are monitoring the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 but have not made a submission to it.

Data Protection

Questions (152)

Catherine Murphy


152. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the preparedness of her Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in her Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7639/18]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

In common with all other Government Departments and Agencies my Department is subject to existing Data Protection regulations.

Over the last 18 months, my Department has actively participated in meetings of the the Inter-Departmental Committee on Data Issues, the focus of which has been primarily on the implications of, and preparedness for, the EU GDPR.

In 2017, a survey of business units was conducted to ascertain the volume of personal data that is processed by my Department. While the results of this exercise show that very little personal data is processed by the Department as part of its main business, work is now underway with a view to ensuring that the Department will be best placed to apply the GDPR. In this regard, my Department is reviewing its holdings of personal data and the associated arrangements for processing and filing of such material.  Training, tailored to the needs of this Department and its Offices, is being developed and managers and staff will be facilitated in attending such training over the coming weeks, initially focusing on those in relevant business units.

Finally, as required by the GDPR, the Department is appointing a dedicated Data Protection Officer (DPO) to oversee preparation for the transition to the new regulatory regime. The DPO will assist business units with their compliance with the provisions of the GDPR.

Female Genital Mutilation

Questions (153)

Ruth Coppinger


153. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the delivery of awareness programmes for female genital mutilation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7757/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012 provides for the creation of an offence of female genital mutilation and other offences relating to female genital mutilation (FGM). The legislation takes a human rights perspective and stipulates that the right to practise one's cultural traditions and beliefs cannot be used to justify FGM.

The HSE is committed to progressing health-related elements of FGM with specific reference to awareness-raising among at risk communities, staff information and support. An FGM resource pack for health professionals and relevant staff in maternity and associated settings has been disseminated. The HSE provides funding to AkiDwA, a national network of migrant women, to facilitate working with target communities around raising awareness of the illegality of FGM and sharing information about the risks of this practice.

The HSE funds a specialist clinic operated by the Irish Family Planning Association for girls and women who have undergone FGM.

The project referred to by the Deputy is run by an NGO, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The project is funded under the EU Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, administered by the European Commission.

I would advise anyone who may be affected by or at risk of FGM, especially women and parents of young girls, to contact the HSE or AkiDwA.

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (154)

Peter Burke


154. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health if an appointment for a person (details supplied) will be expedited. [7554/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Mental Health Services

Questions (155)

Mick Wallace


155. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health if the review of the mental health peer support worker service has been published; his plans to extend the programme to County Wexford; and the timeframe for same. [7555/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.