Immigration Status

Questions (333)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

333. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the residency status of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; the reason for the delay in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9785/18]

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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 processing of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is under consideration and has not yet reached a conclusion but I understand however that the case is due to be submitted for decision very shortly.

The records show the person concerned currently has permission to reside in the State until 18 March 2018. All non-EEA nationals are required to keep their permission to remain in the State up to date at all times and failure to do so may adversely affect an application for a certificate of naturalisation. 

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. While most cases are now generally processed within six months, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. 

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.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (334)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

334. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce hate crime legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9819/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Government is committed to ensuring that the legislative tools are in place to address racism and xenophobia in all forms.

Under Irish law, hate crime is addressed through both the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, and also through the wider criminal law.

The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 includes offences of incitement to hatred on account of race, religion, nationality, ethnic or sexual orientation. In brief, it is an offence to use words, behave, publish or distribute written material, or broadcast any visual images or sounds which are threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or, having regard to all the circumstances, are likely to stir up hatred. 

“Hatred” is defined in that Act as “hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation”. 

Where a criminal offence such as assault, criminal damage or a public order offence is committed against a person based on their race, religion, colour, ethnicity or some other ground, the offence is prosecuted through the wider criminal law. It is accepted that such an offence can be more serious on account of the hate or prejudice motivating the crime and Irish courts do consider evidence of a crime being motivated by hate or prejudice as an aggravating factor at sentencing.

My Department is currently engaging in a review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 as well as the criminal law dimension of the wider Government objective of tackling hatred and xenophobia in Irish society. The review will take account of the progress of the Private Members Criminal Law (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill 2016.

Garda Station Closures

Questions (335)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

335. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the final review of closed Garda stations will be completed; and the plans for Moyvane Garda station, County Kerry. [9822/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. This includes identifying and progressing any necessary remedial or refurbishment works required at individual stations. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, under the Garda Station Rationalisation Programme of 2012 and 2013, one hundred and thirty-nine Garda Stations were closed, including Moyvane station. I am further informed that the closures have 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 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 Deputy will appreciate that the question of the dispersal and use of resources available to An Garda Síochána in the delivery of policing services to local communities and the appropriate structures and management arrangements for delivery of these services is under consideration by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland respectively. Both bodies are expected to report later this year.

Garda Operations

Questions (336, 337, 338)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

336. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the 2017 Garda overtime spent on operation Thor for the Sligo Leitrim Garda division compared to other divisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9828/18]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

337. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the 2017 Garda overtime spent on operation Thor for the Sligo Leitrim Garda division, by rank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9829/18]

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Marc MacSharry

Question:

338. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the 2017 Garda overtime spent on operation Thor for the Sligo Leitrim division on front line operational duty for crime prevention versus administration duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9830/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 336 to 338, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that the allocation and management of Garda resources, including the overtime budget, is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner having due regard to his operational needs. As Minister, I have no role in the matter.

I have been provided with the details below which set out the nationwide expenditure relating to Operation Thor for 2017 by Division and Branches.

Division

 -

Cavan/Monaghan

€76,673

Clare

€104,507

Cork City

€178,004

Cork North

€134,730

Cork West

€134,726

DMR East

€601,565

DMR North

€254,036

DMR North Central

€793,634

DMR South

€229,795

DMR South Central

€931,177

DMR Traffic Corps

€37,093

DMR West

€156,944

Donegal

€186,542

Galway

€229,510

Kerry

€233,106

Kildare

€110,602

Kilkenny/Carlow

€698,047

Laois/Offaly

€154,553

Limerick

€164,945

Louth

€51,248

Mayo

€132,536

Meath

€8,231

Roscommon/Longford

€130,987

Sligo/Leitrim

€99,860

Tipperary

€164,754

Waterford

€233,666

Westmeath

€99,742

Wexford

€291,993

Wicklow

€84,038

National Units and Garda HQ

€2,745,287

Total

€9,452,529

Information relating to certain specialist Branches and Divisions have been amalgamated into National Units and the Garda authorities have indicated that further detail is not provided due to operational reasons.

The breakdown by rank for the Sligo/Leitrim Division is some €72,829 for Gardaí and some €27,031 for Sergeants. The Garda authorities have informed me that they are not in a position to attribute these amounts between spending on front line operational duty and administration duty.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (339)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

339. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to specific circumstances in a proposed naturalisation application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9891/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application for naturalisation has been received.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The Act sets out the statutory conditions which must be met for naturalisation. These include that, regardless how long an applicant may have resided in the State, the applicant must have a period of 1 year's continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the 8 years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence amounting to 4 years (in the case of an application based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the Act reduces this further period to 2 years during the preceding 4 years).  

The guidance notes attached to the application form inform applicants that arrangements for assessment of residence are on the basis that the person is physically resident in the State for the required period of time and that where there are significant absences from the State the application may be refused. 

Where an applicant is found to be non-resident for substantial periods of time such periods will not be reckonable for the purposes of satisfying the statutory residency conditions for naturalisation. While the Act clearly stipulates the statutory minimum periods of residence required in the State, and that the final year be continuous residence, it has long been recognised that many people may travel abroad for a holiday, or may have some unexpected or unavoidable reason to travel abroad. In this regard it is considered that a reasonable and generous period of up to 6 weeks be allowed for absences from the State for normal holidays and other short term and temporary nature absences, such as for business meetings or a family wedding or bereavement or medical emergency while abroad, and that such short term nature absence from the State would not impact on the statutory residence requirement. The Minister may allow some further discretion where there are wholly exceptional or unavoidable circumstances. Every application is considered on its own merits having regard to the statutory conditions set out in the Act.

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. 

Proposed Legislation

Questions (340)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

340. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 278 of 30 January 2018, if he has read the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality; the status of the preparation a new Communications (Retention of Data) Bill; the timeframe for its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9900/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017 was received in my private office on 5 February last. 

I have read the Committee’s report and I am in the process of considering the recommendations made to see whether changes are required to be made to the Bill, which is currently with the Office of the Parliamentary Council for drafting, with a view to publication in this spring/summer session.

Garda Data

Questions (341, 342, 343, 344)

Clare Daly

Question:

341. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Garda National Immigration Bureau routinely report to him; if so, the frequency with which it reports to him; and if the Bureau's reports will be made available. [9904/18]

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Clare Daly

Question:

342. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has oversight of immigration enforcement activities by Garda National Immigration Services; and if so, his oversight responsibilities and the mechanisms available to him for same. [9905/18]

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Clare Daly

Question:

343. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to publish immigration enforcement statistics as provided to the European Commission each year; and if not, the reason therefor (details supplied). [9906/18]

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Clare Daly

Question:

344. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the staffing breakdown for the Garda National Immigration Bureau in terms of Garda and civilian members. [9907/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 to 344, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and specialist units including the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 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 informed by the Commissioner that as of 31 January 2018, the latest date for which figures are currently available, there are a total 121 members of the Garda Síochána and 16 Garda Civilian Staff members attached to the GNIB.

The GNIB reports to the Garda Commissioner through the normal Garda reporting relationships and is subject to the same oversight arrangements as set out in the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended. Obviously, because of the operational nature of the various duties carried out by the GNIB, the Bureau work very closely with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department to deliver on overall immigration objectives.

With regard to statistics on refusals of leave to land, the UN Committee Against Torture, in its concluding observations on the second periodic review of Ireland, requested that the State "provide the Committee with data on the countries of origin of persons denied leave to land and the point of embarkation for the State party to which they were returned in its next periodic report." The next periodic report for Ireland is due to be submitted in August 2021, and it is intended that Ireland will be in a position to respond fully to this recommendation well in advance of that date.