Cash for Gold Trade Regulation

Questions (319)

Robert Troy

Question:

319. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to regulate the trading of scrap metal and cash for gold outlets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9438/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The regulation of these two sectors is a commitment in the Programme for Government. My department is continuing to evaluate the scope of the sectors, with a particular focus on the Cash for Gold sector, with a view to determining the level of regulation which will be proportionate and appropriate.

I am of course keenly aware of the long standing public concern about the way in which Cash for Gold businesses might be abused by criminal elements, particularly burglars. This concern has been highlighted recently in media reports of such abuse. It is, however, important to recognise that regulation of this sector could potentially have a very significant impact on a broad range of businesses, such as jewellers and antique dealers. The regulatory and resource burden of such measures, both for the affected businesses and for the public service, requires careful examination to ensure that it is proportionate to the issue and carefully targeted.

This requires consultation with An Garda Síochána and other Government Departments and stakeholders, which is currently underway. There has already been one round of public consultation on the cash for gold issue, and this has been valuable in feeding into the continuing work within my Department to draw up a workable approach. It may be appropriate to consider a further round prior to finalising proposals for regulation. It is my intention that we will be in a position to publish these proposals within a year.

Firearms Licences

Questions (320)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

320. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to amend legislation to allow for persons to hold pepper spray or an electroshock weapon in their own homes for the purposes of self defence in view of recent reports that members of An Garda Síochána have used pepper spray more than 500 times in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9442/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Pepper sprays and electroshock weapons are considered to be prohibited weapons under the Firearms Act 1925, as amended. A prohibited weapon is defined as a firearm under the same Act, and accordingly the restrictions that apply to firearms in the Firearms Acts apply to pepper sprays and electroshock weapons.  I have no plans to amend these provisions. 

In considering whether or not to grant licences for the possession, use or carriage of firearms, An Garda Síochána take into account a number of factors provided for in the relevant legislation. In this context, in September 2009, the Garda Commissioner issued revised guidelines in relation to the operation of the firearms legislation which are designed to be of benefit to both members of the Gardaí and members of the public.  

These guidelines state that:  “The protection of life and property is a function of the Garda Síochána and civilians are only entitled to use reasonable force to protect  themselves and their property.  The combined effect of this means that there is no justification for seeking to possess a firearm for purposes of personal protection or protection of property.  When assessing an application for a firearm certificate, a superintendent or chief superintendent should not take into account as part of a ‘Good Reason’ a reference to personal protection."

Garda Station Closures

Questions (321)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

321. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda stations that have been closed in each of the years 2012 to 2017 and to date in 2018, by location; the number of Garda stations open in counties Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9495/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that, during 2011 and 2012, An Garda Síochána completed a comprehensive review of its district and station network. The objective of this review was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within the organisation.

The review concluded that a revised district and station network commensurate with the organisation’s resource base would best meet public demand.

In the case of certain stations, many of which were only open part-time and manned by a single Garda, the review determined that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if those stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained.

In reaching these conclusions, Garda management reviewed all aspects of the Garda Síochána policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations.

As a result, the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme was implemented in 2012 and 2013.

This was reflected in An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plans for 2012 and 2013 which set out the details of the closure of 39 Garda stations in 2012 and 100 Garda stations in 2013 and the amalgamation of twenty eight Garda districts to fourteen enlarged Garda districts.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the closures allowed front line Garda to be managed and deployed with greater mobility, greater flexibility and in a more focused fashion particularly with regard to various targeted police operations. As a result of the Programme, communities have benefited from increased Garda visibility and increased patrolling hours which has enabled An Garda Síochána to deliver an improved policing service to the public.

The stations closed under the 2012 and 2013 Policing Plans are set out below:

No.

Garda Station

County

No.

Garda Station

County

1

Abbeydorney

Kerry

71

Glenville

Cork

2

Aclare

Sligo

72

Goleen

Cork

3

Adrigole

Cork

73

Grangemockler

Tipperary

4

An Clochán

Kerry

74

Harcourt Terrace

Dublin

5

Annagaire

Donegal

75

Hollymount

Mayo

6

Ardagh

Longford

76

Hollywood

Wicklow

7

Baldwinstown

Wexford

77

Inagh

Clare

8

Ballacolla

Laois

78

Inchigeela

Cork

9

Ballinahowan

Westmeath

79

Inistioge

Kilkenny

10

Ballinakill

Laois

80

Johnstown

Kilkenny

11

Ballinalee

Longford

81

Keshcarrigan

Leitrim

12

Ballinderry

Tipperary

82

Kilchreest

Galway

13

Ballinskelligs

Kerry

83

Kilcolgan

Galway

14

Ballinspittle

Cork

84

Kilconly

Galway

15

Ballintubber

Roscommon

85

Kilfinnane

Limerick

16

Ballinure

Tipperary

86

Kilgarvan

Kerry

17

Ballycastle

Mayo

87

Kill

Kildare

18

Ballyduff

Waterford

88

Kill O The Grange

Dublin

19

Ballyfarnon

Roscommon

89

Kilmeedy

Limerick

20

Ballyfeard

Cork

90

Kilmessan

Meath

21

Ballyforan

Roscommon

91

*Lisseycasey

Clare

22

Ballyglass

Mayo

92

Kiltealy

Wexford

23

Ballygurteen

Cork

93

Kiltullagh

Galway

24

Ballylongford

Kerry

94

Kiltyclogher

Leitrim

25

Ballymoe

Galway

95

Knockcroghery

Roscommon

26

Ballymore Eustace

Kildare

96

Knocknagree

Cork

27

Ballyragget

Kilkenny

97

Labasheeda

Clare

28

Ballytore

Kildare

98

Lahardane

Mayo

29

Ballyvary

Mayo

99

Lahinch

Clare

30

Ballywilliam

Wexford

100

Lauragh

Kerry

31

Barrack Street

Cork

101

Leenane

Galway

32

Bawnboy

Cavan

102

Leighlinbridge

Carlow

33

Beaufort

Kerry

103

Loughlynn

Roscommon

34

Bellacorick

Mayo

104

Malin

Donegal

35

Blacksod

Mayo

105

Mallow Road

Cork

36

Broadford

Clare

106

Mary Street

Limerick

37

Brosna

Kerry

107

McCurtain St

Cork

38

Bunnanadden

Sligo

108

Meelin

Cork

39

Camp

Kerry

109

Menlough

Galway

40

Carrigaholt

Clare

110

Mountshannon

Clare

41

Castletown Conyers

Limerick

111

Moyvane

Kerry

42

Castletown Geoghegan

Westmeath

112

Mulranny

Mayo

43

Castletownsend

Cork

113

Na Brocacha / Cloghan

Donegal

44

Church Hill (Min an Lábain)

Donegal

115

New Inn

Galway

45

Cliffoney

Sligo

114

New Inn

Tipperary

46

Clontibret

Monaghan

116

Newbliss

Monaghan

47

Cloone

Leitrim

117

Newtowncashel

Longford

48

Cootehall

Roscommon

118

Quin

Clare

49

Corrandulla

Galway

119

Rathduff

Cork

50

Corrinshigagh

Monaghan

120

Rathowen

Westmeath

51

Crossakiel

Meath

121

Rearcross

Tipperary

52

Culdaff

Donegal

122

Redhills

Cavan

53

Dalkey

Dublin

123

Rush

Dublin

54

Donard

Wicklow

124

Shanaglish

Galway

55

Doochary

Donegal

125

Shanagolden

Limerick

56

Doon

Limerick

126

Shannonbridge

Offaly

57

Doonbeg

Clare

127

Shantonagh

Monaghan

58

Dromahair

Leitrim

128

Smithborough

Monaghan

59

Dromod

Leitrim

129

Stepaside

Dublin

60

Drumkeeran

Leitrim

130

Stradbally

Waterford

61

Dundrum

Tipperary

131

Stradone

Cavan

62

Dunkineely

Donegal

132

Tarmonbarry

Roscommon

63

Easkey

Sligo

133

Terryglass

Tipperary

64

Fenit

Kerry

134

Tourmakeady

Mayo

65

Finea

Cavan

135

Tournafolla

Limerick

66

Galbally

Limerick

136

Tullyvin

Cavan

67

Geashill

Offaly

137

Tynagh

Galway

68

Gleann Cholm Cille

Donegal

138

Valentia Island

Kerry

69

Glenfarne

Leitrim

139

Whitehall

Dublin

70

Glenisland

Mayo

*With regard to Lisseycasey Garda station (No. 91), it should be noted that while Kilmihil Garda station closed in 2013 it was subsequently reopened in 2015 and Lisseycasey closed in its place.

The tables below contain details of Garda stations that are currently open in counties Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Roscommon:

Sligo – 11 Garda Stations

Sligo

Ballymote

Colloney

Enniscrone

Coolaney

Gurteen

Grange

Riverstown

Rosses Point

Tubbercurry

Skreen

-

Leitrim - 7 Garda Stations

Carrick on Shannon

Kinlough

Ballinamore

Manorhamilton

Carrigallen

Mohill

Drumshambo

-

Donegal - 37 Garda Stations

Letterkenny

Buncrana

Ballyshannon

Milford

Ballybofey

Burnfoot

Ardara

Bunbeg

Carrigans

Carndonagh

Ballintra

Burtonport

Castlefin

Clonmany

Bundoran

Carrigart

Convoy

Moville

Carrick

Creeslough

Lifford

Muff

Clogher

Dunfanaghy

Newtowncunningham

Donegal

Dungloe (An Clochan Liath)

Raphoe

Glenties

Falcarragh

-

Killybegs

Kerrykeel

-

Mountcharles

Kilmacrennan

-

Pettigo

Ramelton

-

Rathmullen

Roscommon - 14 Garda Stations

Roscommon

Castlerea

Athleague

Ballaghaderreen

Clonark

Ballinlough

Taughmaconnell

Boyle

-

Elphin

-

Frenchpark

-

Keadue

-

Rooskey

-

Strokestown

-

Tulsk

Immigration Status

Questions (322)

Mary Butler

Question:

322. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application for residency by a person (details supplied); the determination date for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9497/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Crime Data

Questions (323)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

323. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of burglaries recorded by An Garda Síochána in each district in the Leitrim and Sligo divisions in each of the years 2014 to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9502/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of the official recorded crime statistics, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.  I have asked the CSO to forward the available statistics in relation to the information requested directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Funding

Questions (324)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

324. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9523/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The capital allocation for the Justice Vote Group over the period 2018 to 2022,  as published in the recent National Development Plan, is as follows:

Year

Allocation - € million

2018

145

2019

241

2020

230

2021

208

2022

216 

Total

1,040

The precise breakdown of the budget across the votes and various projects will be dependent on the outcome of procurement competitions and the timing of expenditure but in broad terms the funding will mainly be allocated to the following areas: 

- Construction of the new Forensic Science Laboratory;

- Garda Síochána Building and Refurbishment Programme including completion of Divisional Headquarters in Galway and Kevin Street, Dublin together with replacement of the Harcourt Street Complex;

- Garda ICT Programme including completion of the implementation of Schengen Information system,

- Continuing Investment in the Garda Fleet;

- Prisons, Courts and Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service ICT investment;

- Prison Building Programme including the redevelopment of Limerick Prison; 

- New or refurbished courthouses in a number of provincial cities and county towns.

Irish Youth Justice Service

Questions (325)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

325. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons employed in the Irish Youth Justice Service of his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; the role of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8830/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department's team in the Irish Youth Justice Service is led by a Principal Officer and has responsibility for Youth Crime Policy and Programmes. Their role is to develop and support implementation of youth justice policy including funding and oversight of the operation and development of the nationwide network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects, in consultation with the Garda authorities, as well as supporting a number of other community programmes and projects.

The table below shows the staff numbers and grades  in the Irish Youth Justice Service from 2014-2018.

-

End 2014

End 2015

End 2016

End 2017

Current

PO

1

1

1

1

1

AP

1

1

1

2

2

HEO

1

1

1

1

1

AO

 

 

 

1

1

EO

5

5

4

2

2

CO

2

1

2

2

2

Total

10

9

9

9

9

Garda Resources

Questions (326)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

326. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána uses drones to support policing work; if so, the resources that have been provided for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9600/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the allocation and management of Garda resources in the State and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

I have requested the specific information sought by the Deputy from the Commissioner and I will write to him on receipt of same.

Garda Data

Questions (327)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

327. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vacancies in each Garda division for Garda juvenile liaison officers as of 31 December 2015, 2016 and 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9601/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

I am advised by the Commissioner that Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are specially trained to fulfil a key role in implementing the Garda Diversion Programme at local level. This role may include the administration of formal and informal cautions as well as appropriate supervision of children who have been admitted to the Diversion Programme as provided for in Part 4 of the Children Act 2001.

For the Deputy’s information I have attached in tabular form the total number of JLOs assigned to Garda Divisions for 2015 - 2017 and as of 31 January 2018, the latest date for which figures are readily available.

-

Juvenile Liaison Officers - 2015 to 31 January 2018

Division

2015

2016

2017

2018

D.M.R.S.C.

5

5

5

5

D.M.R.N.C

4

3

4

4

D.M.R.N.

13

13

12

12

D.M.R.E.

6

5

5

5

D.M.R.S.

10

10

10

10

D.M.R.W.

9

11

11

11

Waterford

4

3

4

4

Wexford

3

3

2

2

Kilkenny/Carlow

2

2

2

2

Tipperary

3

3

3

3

Cork City

7

7

10

10

Cork North

3

3

3

3

Cork West

2

2

2

2

Kerry

4

4

4

4

Limerick

6

4

5

5

Donegal

3

3

3

3

Cavan/Monaghan

2

1

2

2

Sligo/Leitrim

1

1

1

1

Louth

3

3

3

3

Clare

2

2

2

2

Mayo

2

2

2

2

Galway

4

4

3

3

Roscommon/Longford

2

2

2

2

Westmeath

2

2

2

2

Meath

3

3

3

3

Kildare

3

3

3

3

Laois/Offaly

2

2

2

2

Wicklow

4

4

4

4

Total

114

107

114

114

Garda Stations

Questions (328)

Bríd Smith

Question:

328. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to open a Garda station in the Cherrywood area of Dublin; and the details of those plans. [9608/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner who is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to An Garda Síochána. This includes matters in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations and, as Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to a pilot scheme to reopen 6 Garda stations, both urban and rural, to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order. The Garda Commissioner's final report, which was noted by Government on 19 December 2017, recommends that the following six stations be included in the pilot: Ballinspittle, Co. Cork, Bawnboy, Co.Cavan, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, Donard, Co. Wicklow, and Rush and Stepaside, Co. Dublin.

The Report also makes reference to the possibility of locating a Garda station at, for example, locations experiencing significant growth in population. In this regard, the Report references Cherrywood as one such area and I understand that An Garda Síochána is exploring the feasibility of such a proposition.

Protected Disclosures

Questions (329)

John McGuinness

Question:

329. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a reply will issue to correspondence; and if the person (details supplied) will be protected in line with whistleblower legislation. [9610/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The issues raised in the letter are being reviewed by officials in my Department and a reply will issue to the Officer in due course.

The Officer in question has raised a number of issues which have been and are being dealt with in line with the legislation on protected disclosures.

In addition to the proceedings in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) of which the Deputy is aware, my Department has engaged an external legal firm to independently examine other complaints set out by the Officer.  This process is underway and has been communicated to the Officer.

Film Industry

Questions (330, 331, 332)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

330. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which the pan European gaming information system or other age rating systems for video games is incorporated into Irish law; the penalties applying to retailers that sell games with a specific age rating to children below that age; the legislation in which this is set down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9619/18]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

331. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the statutory body or bodies with responsibility for the age rating of video games. [9620/18]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

332. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which video games and gaming are regulated in terms of content, age rating, sale to minors, purchase of online upgrades, the prevalence of gambling and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9623/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330 to 332, inclusive, together.

The legislation dealing with the sale and/or distribution of video games is the Video Recordings Act 1989. Video games are exempted works for classification purposes unless they fall within the terms provided for in section 3(1)(a) or (b), which covers the grounds for the prohibition of works.

Ireland is part of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) system, which is a Europe-wide rating system with regard to video games. The Director of the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) is on the council of PEGI.

PEGI is not incorporated into Irish law. It is a European self-regulation initiative set up in 2003 to rate video games on the basis of age classification. These classifications are then subject to independent verification before a supply licence is issued to the publisher. Video games are classified by age appropriateness at the following age levels: 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+ and 18+.

I understand that it is now normal practice for IFCO to view video games which are rated as 18+ to allow the Director of Film Classification to form an opinion as to whether such games fall within the terms provided for in section 3(1)(a) or (b) of the Video Recordings Act 1989.

A key component of video game arrangements is that the classification systems set out above are designed to provide useful information as to the content of the product. In particular, the intention is to assist parents/guardians in making informed choices concerning the media they acquire for their children or which they permit their children to use.

In the context of the Questions raised by the Deputy, I take the reference to “prevalence of gambling” as relating to “in app purchases” or “loot boxes” which appear in video games to enable a player to increase the chance of success in the game. There is no element of gambling involved in such purchases. These purchases do not involve placing a bet or the taking of risk either on a party to party or exchange basis. I understand that such purchases, as an e-Commerce activity, are the responsibility of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.