Criminal Prosecutions Data

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Questions (292)

Mick Wallace

Question:

292. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions for the use of false identities to acquire driving licences in each of the years from 2010 to 2017 and to date in 2018, in tabular form. [9812/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had inquiries made with the Courts Service and the information requested will be forwarded to the Deputy in due course.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Garda Data

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Questions (293, 294)

Clare Daly

Question:

293. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if all 999 calls to An Garda Síochána in the Dublin metropolitan area are archived for ten years; and, if not, the number of years for which they are archived. [9267/18]

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Clare Daly

Question:

294. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if metadata for all 999 calls to An Garda Síochána in the Dublin metropolitan area are archived for ten years; and if not, the number of years for which they are archived. [9268/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 293 and 294 together.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and when this is to hand, I will write to the Deputy directly.

I wish to make clear to the Deputy that the archiving of records, in this case metadata, is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. The control, direction and operation of An Garda Síochána is not subject to the powers of my office and these are limitations which must be respected.

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Garda Deployment

Questions (295, 296, 297)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

295. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí allocated to Carrigaline Garda station for each of the past ten years. [9279/18]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

296. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí who have been attached to Carrigaline Garda station for each of the past eight years; and the other stations community gardaí would have been attached to at the same time over that period. [9280/18]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

297. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Togher Garda district has sought additional staff for the Carrigaline subdistrict recently; and, if so, the number allocated. [9282/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (298)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

298. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of freedom of information requests his Department has received in the past eight years; the number of which were accepted without further escalation and not accepted, respectively; the number requested that were not accepted and were escalated to the Information Commissioner; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled in favour of the person requesting the freedom of information; the number of which the Information Commissioner ruled against his Department; the number his Department appealed to the High Court; the number the High Court ruled against his Department in favour of the applicant; the number which were then brought to the Court of Appeal by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9295/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department processes all Freedom of Information requests received. From 1 January 2010 - 31 December 2017 my Department has received 5,580 requests.

All requests are dealt with upon receipt and therefore none have been escalated to the Office of the Information Commissioner as a result of not being processed.

During this timeframe, the Office of the Information Commissioner reviewed 146 FoI decisions made by my Department. Collated information on the number which were then affirmed, varied or annulled by that office is not readily available.

My Department has not appealed any decision made by the Office of the Information Commissioner to the Courts.

Personal Insolvency Arrangements

Questions (299)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

299. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of times the banks' veto has been successfully challenged through the personal insolvency process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9320/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The section 115A court review process, introduced with effect from November 2015, permits a debtor to ask the court to review and assess the reasonableness of a Personal Insolvency Arrangement proposal which has been refused by creditors and which includes mortgage arrears on the debtor’s home. During the section 115A court review, the court considers the reasonableness of the refusal using a balanced range of criteria and has power, if satisfied, to impose the proposed personal insolvency arrangement on the dissenting creditor(s). This court based review effectively removes the so called “Bank Veto”.

Since the introduction of the section 115A court review, 78 cases have been approved by the courts in favour of the debtor.

Currently, there are over 500 cases before the courts.  A significant High Court judgment in early February addressed two key issues that had become a logjam in the process. Namely, technical issues around the application for a court review and a fear from personal insolvency practitioners that creditors might pursue them for costs in a personal capacity.  These issues have now been adequately addressed. The judgment has been positively received by both the Insolvency Service of Ireland and Personal Insolvency Practitioners. Subject to any possible appeal, it is expected the judgment will lead to increased activity in Personal Insolvency Arrangements. 

The High Court has published a number of important detailed judgments on the criteria that will be applied by the courts in section 115A review cases, and the types of mortgage arrears resolutions that may be imposed. Those precedents involved the following issues.

- Separated Spouses - a case involving a separated spouse who restructured her mortgage. The Court rejected a claim by the bank that, before any restructure, the bank needed the co-operation of the other joint borrower.

- Rejection of unsustainable warehousing proposal and approval for negative equity write-off - a case where the mortgage lender wanted to warehouse part of a mortgage. The Court ruled that this could not be done unless there is a reasonable prospect of the couple paying back the warehoused amount. The Court, instead, imposed the Personal Insolvency Arrangement which wrote off most of the negative equity.

- Fixing interest rate for the long term - a case concerning a mortgage rate fixed for 27 years. In assessing if this unfairly prejudiced, the financial institution (a fund rather than a bank), the court held that it was appropriate to compare with market investment returns rather than with the interest rates and terms that are available to a bank which also has to raise capital. The Court decided that the Personal Insolvency Arrangement proposal, including the fixed interest rate, was fair and reasonable in this context and was not unfairly prejudicial.

Under Abhaile, the Government’s national Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service, a borrower may apply for legal aid to the Legal Aid Board to seek a court review under section 115A where their proposed Personal Insolvency Arrangement has been rejected by the creditors.

Personal Insolvency Arrangements

Questions (300)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

300. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason not all examples of possible solutions such as write-downs and debt for equity are not included on the website of the Insolvency Service of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9321/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Section 102(6) of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 contains a non-exhaustive list of secured debt treatment that may be included in the terms of a personal insolvency arrangement. This list includes interest only payments for the term of the arrangement, part interest and part capital payments, interest rate reductions, principal reductions and creditor agreement to a reduction in the principal sum in return for a share in the equity of the debtor’s property, also known as, debt for equity.

A number of personal insolvency arrangement scenarios are included on the website of the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) which include examples of both secured and unsecured debt write-downs. These scenarios reflect the range of standard offerings that creditors have agreed with personal insolvency practitioners in successfully concluded arrangements approved by the courts.

The ISI monitors the outcomes of personal insolvency arrangements, in particular they monitor the commercial terms of successful arrangements. Where a new trend emerges, the ISI will add to the scenarios on its website.

I am advised that the ISI is not aware of any creditor whose credit guidelines provide debt for equity as a standard offering to personal insolvency practitioners. However, the ISI is aware of a number of debt for equity solutions that have been proposed by personal insolvency practitioners to cater for the exceptional circumstances of individual debtors. These proposals are currently subject to the section 115A court review process. I understand that the ISI will continue to monitor the progress of these cases and will publish such a scenario on its website if cases are successful.

Personal Insolvency Arrangements

Questions (301)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

301. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the insolvency process as per the programme for Government or other means; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9324/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 has modernised the regime for personal insolvency and brought Ireland in line with international best practice by providing for a range of debt resolution options within a statutory framework which balances the rights of creditors and debtors. The Personal Insolvency Arrangement, in particular, is an innovative solution that seeks to restructure or settle secured debt. Other important elements of this framework include the statutory protections regarding the debtor's reasonable living expenses and their home.

Since its establishment in 2013, the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has returned over 6,000 debtors to solvency with over 2,000 of those cases being Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIAs) which deal with mortgage debt. In over 90% of these PIA cases, debtors have been able to stay in their homes. This is a significant achievement given that many cases involved arrears exceeding 720 days.

In addition, the solutions introduced in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 have served as a catalyst for over 120,000 informal agreements between debtors and creditors, as reported by the Central Bank of Ireland. Debtors now have realistic alternative options available to them through the ISI if negotiations break down.

The Government has introduced a number of amendments and supports, since 2012, to ensure the success of the solutions provided by the personal insolvency legislation. These include the section 115A court review process and the Abhaile Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service.

The section 115A court review process permits a debtor to ask the Court to review and assess the reasonableness of a rejected PIA and, where satisfied as to its reasonableness, make an order confirming the PIA proposal.  This removes the so-called “Bank Veto”.

Another important enhancement is Abhaile, the Government’s national Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service. This was introduced in 2016 to ensure that people who are in danger of losing their home have access to free professional advice, including advice from a personal insolvency practitioner. In addition to detailed financial advice, Abhaile offers legal advice to homeowners in mortgage arrears with the aim of allowing them to find a solution to their arrears and to stay in their homes where possible.

Since 2016, the Abhaile Scheme has engaged with over 10,000 people in mortgage arrears, most of them in the chronic arrears category over 360 or 720 days in arrears. Up to 19 February 2018, Abhaile has provided: 

- financial advice and negotiation help – through Dedicated Mortgage Advisers working with MABS – to over 4,900 borrower households in home mortgage arrears;

- vouchers for professional financial advice and help on home mortgage arrears from a Personal Insolvency Practitioner, to 8,292 borrowers;

- vouchers for legal advice on home mortgage arrears from a Legal Aid Board solicitor, to 2,285 borrowers;

- help from a duty solicitor for unrepresented borrowers before a County Registrar’s court on home repossession, to over 3,340 borrowers.

My Department is also finalising a review of the operation of the Personal Insolvency Acts. The review is taking place under section 141 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, which requires the Minister for Justice and Equality (in consultation with the Minister for Finance) to review the operation of Part 3 of the 2012 Act, and responds to a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government.

Submissions made by stakeholders via a public consultation on the operation of Part Three of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 contain a range of recommendations to enhance the process and to support increased engagement with the personal insolvency system. These submissions are being analysed and considered by my Department as part of the review along with recent developments in personal insolvency, including recent High Court judgments related to the process. I look forward to bringing proposals to Government in the coming months to address the conclusions of the review.

Immigration Status

Questions (302)

Clare Daly

Question:

302. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an asylum application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9357/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a deportation order made on 16 December 2010.

Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned requesting that the deportation order be revoked, pursuant to the provisions of section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).  All relevant aspects of the case will be considered before a decision is made.

The Deputy might wish to note that the decision to ensue from the consideration of this request will be to have the existing deportation order ‘affirmed’ or ‘revoked’. Once such a decision has been made, this decision will be notified in writing. In the meantime, the deportation order remains valid and in place.  

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.

Immigration Status

Questions (303)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

303. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a request by a person (details supplied) for a review of the decision to refuse their application under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015; and when a decision will issue. [9358/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned was refused a residence card on 10 October 2017 as they were not in compliance with the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015.

I also understand that INIS received a request for a review of that decision on 25 October 2017. The Deputy will appreciate that review applications are dealt with in strict chronological order and there will be no avoidable delay in issuing a decision.  In the interim, INIS has provided the person with temporary permission to remain in the State under Stamp 4 conditions until 24 August 2018.

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

Garda Training

Questions (304, 305, 306)

James Browne

Question:

304. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if members of An Garda Síochána receive specific training for dealing with persons suspected to be suffering with mental health issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9359/18]

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James Browne

Question:

305. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if mental health response units are available for members of An Garda Síochána to contact in cases of a mental health emergency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9360/18]

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James Browne

Question:

306. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána has a dedicated mental health unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9362/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 to 306, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for carrying on and managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

I have sought a report from the Garda Commissioner in relation to the information requested by the Deputy and I write directly to the Deputy when the report is to hand.

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.