Direct Provision System

Questions (244)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

244. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number, location, capacity and occupancy of all temporary direct provision centres; the details of the contracts in place for each; if he is satisfied that adequate facilities are provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51945/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department has been encountering significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio over the last year or so. This pressure has increased further in the last number of months with an increase in the numbers of persons claiming international protection and a growth in the percentage of protection applicants who require assistance with accommodation.

In order to ensure that the State can continue to provide accommodation for all protection applicants and continue to comply with the EU Reception Directive which was transposed into Irish law in June of this year, RIA has, since September, arranged for the provision of emergency beds where the mainstream accommodation centres were at capacity. RIA is also increasing the capacity of the mainstream system by opening new centres in Kenmare, and Wicklow and in the very near future in Moville and Roosky.

As a result of this increased demand, my Department has had to use  emergency beds on a temporary basis. Given that the accommodation is utilised on a temporary basis there is no set contract in place with each provider.

As of Sunday 9th December, there were three separate hotels being used in this manner and the following table shows the name and utilisation of each hotel.

Name 

Occupancy 

Dún na Rí, Kingscourt

33

Lisanisk House, Monaghan

50

Treacy's Hotel, Monaghan

116

Persons accommodated there are provided with full board accommodation. SafetyNet, on behalf of the HSE, have offered medical screening to all residents and RIA are liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to assist in the process of linking residents with local Social Welfare officers. Staff from RIA have also arranged to meet with residents in these accommodation settings to address any concerns they may have.

It is our intention that persons will be accommodated here for as short a time as possible prior to being transferred to a contracted accommodation centre and hence the opening of new accommodation centres mentioned above.

Courts Staff

Questions (245, 246)

Seán Fleming

Question:

245. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of different judges who sat in the family law court in a location (details supplied) since 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51978/18]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

246. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a sitting judge in family law cases will be provided to a District Court (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51979/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 246 together.

As the Deputy will be 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. Furthermore, the scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the President of the District Court and the presiding judge who are, under the Constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. The temporary assignment of Judges of the District Court is also a matter for the President of that Court.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed my officials that 26 different judges sat in the family law court in the location referenced by the Deputy since 2015. The Courts Service has also informed my officials that the President of the District Court continues to work with the Courts Service to target judicial resources so as to ensure that cases are dealt with as efficiently and effectively as possible and continues to arrange additional sittings where possible within the resources available to her.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Applications

Questions (247)

Seán Fleming

Question:

247. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a case (details supplied) will be dealt with by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; if he is satisfied with the time taken to deal with cases by the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51980/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted. Under the Terms of the Scheme, the Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual decisions on applications for compensation.

However, to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made with the Tribunal and understand that a decision was made on this application in 2016 and the applicant subsequently appealed the decision shortly thereafter. The application was placed in chronological order for a hearing by the Tribunal.

The administrative staff of the Tribunal are currently engaged in preparatory work for hearings in 2019 and it is envisaged that the applicant's hearing will take place in the first half of the coming year.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Applications

Questions (248)

Seán Fleming

Question:

248. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the expected timescale for cases to be dealt with by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; if he is satisfied that cases are being processed efficiently, that there are proper corporate governance arrangements in place and that there are adequate resources to deal with claims in a timely manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51983/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted.  Under the Terms of the Scheme, the Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual decisions on applications for compensation.

Tribunal members, who are practising barristers and practising solicitors in the Courts system, provide their services on a part time basis to the Tribunal. I have ensured that a full Tribunal membership has been maintained in order to continue to address claims as promptly as possible within the funds available.

The length of time taken to process an application can vary widely from case to case. Each case is addressed on the individual application. While applications are processed with the minimum of formality compared to court proceedings where compensation is being claimed, in making their decisions Tribunal Members must be satisfied that all supporting documentation submitted is in order. In some cases there can be delays pending the availability of all the required documentation and some cases are complex in terms of medical conditions. For example, in the cases of serious injury to the victim, it can take considerable amount of time before the treating consultant is in a position to give a final prognosis. It is also often necessary to await Garda reports arising from the related criminal investigation before a final decision can be made in a case. By their nature, such investigations can be lengthy and complex.

Insofar as average processing times are concerned, I can inform the Deputy that I have requested an assessment of the caseload of the Tribunal and have asked my officials to examine this assessment and seek the views of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal in this regard. As previously advised, I will contact the Deputy with further information in due course.

I can also advise the Deputy that, in view of the length of time since the Scheme was last revised, my Department has submitted a request for a review of the Scheme to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) for consideration in the context of its Programme of Law Reform.

Furthermore, in view of a number of large value awards in the current year, I can inform the Deputy that I have obtained approval for an increased allocation of €2.4 m, for 2018, as part of a Supplementary Estimate for the Vote which will bring the total compensation allocation to €6.416 m for the year.

Immigrant Investor Programme Administration

Questions (249)

Michael Lowry

Question:

249. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a review of the immigrant investor programme is finalised; when this review will be published; if the immigrant investor programme will reopen for applications in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51986/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Following  publication of Terms of Reference on the INIS website on 5 November 2018, I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigrations Service (INIS) of my Department that requests for tender will be launched shortly by INIS. It is expected that the review will be completed in the first half of 2019.

I am pleased to confirm that new applications will be processed during 2019. Exact dates for acceptance of applications have yet to be agreed and once confirmed they will be published on the INIS website.

Legal Services Regulation

Questions (250)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

250. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps taken to act on the 2006 recommendations of the Competition Authority to establish a legal services commission in order to regulate the legal profession and legal services market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52015/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am happy to confirm that the Government’s roll-out of the reform of the Irish legal services sector to which the Deputy has referred has been taking place since the enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. The Act is the vehicle for the relevant reforms recommended by the Competition Authority in 2006 as undertaken by the Government under the EU/IMF/ECB Troika Programme. These include the introduction of a new and more consumer-friendly legal costs transparency regime, the setting out of Legal Costs Principles and the modernising transition of the Office of the Taxing-Master to that of the Legal Costs Adjudicators who will maintain a public register of their legal costs determinations.

They also include the introduction of an independent complaints and professional conduct regime for both solicitors and barristers including the establishment and appointment of an independent Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal. Members of the public will no longer make their complaints through the legal professional bodies as they do at present but directly to the new Authority. Both the legal costs and the public complaints regimes, for which extensive preparations are ongoing, are due to come into operation during Quarter 2 of 2019. The regulated introduction of new legal services models in the guise of Legal Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships is also due in Quarter 1 of 2019.

The key driver for much of this programme of structural reform is the Legal Services Regulatory Authority which was established, along the lines recommended by the Competition Authority, on 1 October 2016 and held its first meeting on 26 October 2016. The Authority has eleven members including a lay majority and a lay Chair, Dr. Don Thornhill, and continues to roll out its functions under its first full-time Chief Executive, Dr. Brian Doherty. Members of the Authority are nominated by ten prescribed nominating bodies who represent a balance of interests between the legal professions and those consumers, both private and enterprise, who avail of their services. The Authority is, under the 2015 Act, independent in the performance of its functions and appointments to it have to be approved by a motion of each House of the Oireachtas.

In its first year of operations to the end of 2017, the Authority produced five mandatory reports on new legal services options which included public consultations within deadlines set under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. It has also submitted its Annual Report for 2017 and recently produced a review of legal professional education. The Deputy will wish to be aware that I have laid these, along with the other reports to which I have referred, before the Houses of the Oireachtas in the required manner. The Authority will also soon be submitting its first statutory review of the operation of the 2015 Act directly to each House.

The Authority's forthcoming actions have been set out in its first Strategic Plan for 2018-2020 which I laid before the Houses on 1 May 2018. The Plan sets out indicative timelines for the roll-out of the Authority's functions during that period. This will be supported in each instance with the commencement, by me as Minister, of the relevant provisions concerned. The Authority has its own website on www.lsra.ie where its reports, minutes of meetings, Strategic Plan and other useful information are also publicly available.

Prison Accommodation Provision

Questions (251)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

251. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to develop the Thornton Hall site which was initially purchased as a site for a super prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52018/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware the Thornton Hall site was purchased in 2005 with the intention of constructing a large scale prison campus to replace the 19th century complex at Mountjoy Prison which the then Government planned to sell to fund the development. Due to the downturn in the economy, the scale of the project could not be accommodated within the capital allocation available and the project did not proceed. In the decade since the original plan, international research has tended towards smaller prisons within reach of support communities as the best option for rehabilitation. In addition, in light of the decision not to proceed with Thornton Hall, significant capital investment has been made at the Mountjoy campus over recent years to upgrade accommodation and eliminate the practice of slopping out.

In the meantime, the Thornton Hall site which is fully serviced and adjacent to Dublin airport remains in my Department’s ownership and in recent years a working group, which included representatives from the OPW, considered future use options for the site. This included discussions with Fingal County Council. More recently, the site has also been flagged to the Department of Housing and Local Government, and to the Land Development Agency. As such, the site will be considered both in the context of broader State requirements for land assets and future requirements in relation to detention of prisoners.

Irish Sign Language

Questions (252)

Clare Daly

Question:

252. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to enact the Irish Sign Language Act 2017. [52034/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017 - 2021 contains several commitments in respect of the development and expansion of Irish Sign Language (ISL) services for deaf citizens, as follows:

- Extension of ISL remote interpretation service;

- Resourcing of the Sign Language Interpreting Service (SLIS) to increase the number of trained sign Language and deaf interpreters, to put a quality-assurance and registration scheme in place and to provide on-going professional training and development for interpreters;

- Legislation that will ensure that all public bodies provide ISL users with free interpretation when accessing or availing of statutory services.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 was signed into law in December 2017 and provides for the following:-

- Recognition of the right of ISL users to use ISL as their native language;

- The placing of a duty on public services to provide free interpretation services when accessing statutory services;

- The placing of an obligation on courts to take all reasonable steps to allow persons competent in ISL to be heard in ISL.

The Act will come into operation in December 2020.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is responsible for progressing the commitments under the Inclusion Strategy that relate to the extension of the ISL remote interpretation service, the  increase in the number of interpreters, the establishment of a quality-assurance and registration scheme and the provision of on-going professional training and development for interpreters. Work has commenced on the implementation of this programme, completion of which is expected by 2021. DEASP will be reporting periodically on its progress in this regard to the National Disability Inclusion Strategy Steering Group, (which comprises the Interdepartmental Committee, the Disability Stakeholders Group and the National Disability Authority), and at local level through its Departmental Consultative Committee.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (253, 254, 255)

John Lahart

Question:

253. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of women and men, respectively employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52059/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

254. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the various grades in which males and females are employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52076/18]

View answer

John Lahart

Question:

255. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the ratio of males to females employed in his Department and the agencies under the remit of his Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52093/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 253 to 255, inclusive, together.

The figures in the following tables include staff in my Department as of 3rd of December 2018. It also includes the bodies under the aegis of my Department with the exception of An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service, and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. I have asked these organisations to provide the information directly to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Technical/professional, and other specialist posts have been included with the general Civil Service grade for which they are analogous.

Department of Justice and Equality:

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Secretary General

1

0

N/A

Deputy Secretary

0

3

N/A

Assistant Secretary

14

5

2.8:1

Principal Officer

67

45

1.5:1

Assistant Principal Officer

142

173

0.8:1

Higher Executive Officer

125

172

0.7:1

Administrative Officer

97

221

0.4:1

Executive Officer

182

260

0.7:1

Clerical Officer

358

535

0.7:1

Service Officer

27

14

1.9:1

Total

1013

1428

0.7:1

Courts:

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Assistant Secretary and above

16

11

1.5:1

Principal Officer

15

17

0.9:1

Assistant Principal Officer

43

82

0.5:1

Higher Executive Officer

49

100

0.5:1

Executive Officer

80

192

0.4:1

Clerical Officer

95

226

0.4:1

Service Officer

42

10

4.2:1

Ushers/Criers

46

3

15.3:1

Judicial Assistants

39

36

1.1:1

Total

425

677

0.6

GSOC

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Assistant Secretary

4

0

N/A

Principal Officer

1

1

1:1

Assistant Principal Officer

11

7

1.6:1

Higher Executive Officer

27

13

2.1:1

Executive Officer

5

13

0.4:1

Clerical Officer

9

5

1.8:1

Total

57

39

1.5:1

Legal Aid Board

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Assistant Secretary

1

0

N/A

Principal Officer

6

7

0.9:1

Assistant Principal Officer

9

30

0.3:1

Higher Executive Officer

10

11

0.9:1

Administrative Officer

17

77

0.2:1

Executive Officer

11

71

0.2:1

Clerical Officer

25

191

0.1:1

Professional/Technical

2

2

1:1

NPG

6

34

0.2:1

Service Officer

2

0

N/A

Total

89

423

0.2:1

Policing Authority

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Assistant Secretary

0

1

N/A

Director

0

3

N/A

Assistant Principal

0

7

N/A

Higher Executive Officer

3

2

1.5:1

Administrative Officer

1

3

0.3:1

Executive Officer

4

3

1.3:1

Clerical Officer

3

2

1.5:1

Temporary Student Intern

0

1

N/A

Total

11

22

0.5:1

National Disability Authority

Grade

Male

Female

Ratio Male to female

Principal Officer

1

2

0.5:1

Assistant Principal

5

9

0.6:1

Higher Executive Officer

2

4

0.5:1

Administrative Officer

0

1

N/A

Grade IV (DoH grade)

0

8

N/A

Grade III (DoH grade)

0

2

N/A

Total

8

26

0.3:1

Prison Service Expenditure

Questions (256)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

256. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of former prison service staff employed as consultants by the Irish Prison Service; the former role of each in the prison service; the current role of each; the length of the time they have been employed as external consultants; the amount they are being paid for this work; the standing of the employment of each; the main purpose of their employment; the location of the prison each is assigned to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52215/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy was previously advised in Parliamentary Question No 186 of 5 December 2018, I am informed that there are two former prison governors, currently employed to carry out business process reviews in the Irish Prison Service. The purpose of the review is to implement a quality improvement programme for effective financial, administrative and other operational processes across the Prison Service.

One person has been employed since September 2017 and another since February 2018 on salaries of approximately €40,000 and €30,000 per annum, pro rata. Both persons were employed on 12 month contracts, with an option to extend for an additional limited period on the basis of their substantial experience in managing financial and administrative systems in the Prison Service.

Garda Deployment

Questions (257)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

257. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the six additional protective services units for Q4 2018 have been established in DMR south central, Waterford, Kerry, Kilkenny, Carlow, Limerick and Galway Garda divisions; and the buildings, office equipment, cars, technology and trained Garda personnel in place in each. [52224/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The establishment by the Garda Commissioner of Divisional Protective Services Units are one of the actions outlined in the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.

Under the existing Garda reform programme, divisional units of Garda National Protective Services Bureau are being rolled-out in two phases. The Bureau and its divisional units are tasked with improving services to victims, improving the investigation of sexual and domestic violence incidents, and identifying and managing risk.

As the Deputy will be aware, Phase One of this rollout is completed, with Divisional Units established in three areas - DMR West, Cork City, and Louth Division.

Following an evaluation of the pilot, the next phase is due to see an additional six Divisional Bureaus established in DMR South Central; Waterford; Kerry; Kilkenny/Carlow; Limerick and Galway Garda Divisions before the end of Q4, 2018 with the objective of extending them to all remaining Garda Divisions before the end of 2019.

I have sought assurances that this objective is on track, and have been informed by An Garda Síochána of the following updates in relation to those Divisional Units due to be established in 2018:

- A selection competition is currently underway for the purpose of selecting personnel who are to be assigned to Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSUs) which are being established in six (6) particular Garda Síochána divisions, namely, DMR South Central, Waterford, Carlow/Kilkenny, Limerick, Kerry and Galway.

- Accommodation to be allocated to these Divisional PSUs has been identified and any refurbishments deemed necessary to be carried out, in advance of occupation by the personnel concerned, is in progress.

- Arrangements are in place to ensure necessary office equipment, including furniture and IT related equipment, will be available in respect of the offices which will be allocated to the said six (6) units.

- Vehicles which will be used by personnel assigned to the additional DPSUs will be made available from within the pool of vehicles allocated to the relevant divisions.

Rural Crime

Questions (258)

Clare Daly

Question:

258. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the initiatives taken or proposed by him to tackle rural crime. [51843/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, this Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime.

As part of the Garda approach special targeted patrols are carried out with the assistance of Garda National Support Services against criminals who are committing crime inter-regionally. This includes a focus on the use of motorways by criminal gangs so as to disrupt and arrest those involved.

The scale of Garda activity against burglary and property-related crime – under Operation Thor - has led to (as of 2 November 2018) over 168,636 targeted checkpoints and 243,277 crime prevention patrols nationwide. This has produced in the region of 8,837 arrests and 10,143 charges covering a range of offences, which, in addition to burglary, include handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.

Gardaí continue to pursue a range of measures to support elderly and more vulnerable people in the community, working closely with Community Alert, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups.

At the Ploughing Championships in September, I announced details of the 2018 Text Alert Rebate Scheme which will be available to over 1,000 local groups registered under the Garda Text Alert Scheme. My Department will be making in the region of €150,000 available to local communities who wish to apply for a rebate towards the costs associated with running their local Text Alert Scheme.

Other policing initiatives include Theft Stop, which was launched by the Gardaí and the Irish Farmers Association (IFA). Theft Stop is designed to deter criminals from taking and selling farm equipment by ensuring it is clearly marked with a unique ID and then registered on a nationwide database. The clearly visible serial number should act as a deterrent to criminals. A further impediment for criminals is that the details and serial numbers of stolen equipment can be viewed by would-be buyers on-line at www.theftstop.ie.

Other partnership initiatives with the IFA and Crimestoppers have included a reward fund to encourage reports to assist Gardaí in identifying those involved in livestock theft. Anyone with information about livestock theft may use the Crimestoppers confidential number 1800 25 00 25 to make a report if they so wish, or contact Gardaí directly.

Furthermore, new legislation has been put in place to target repeat burglary offenders and the Government is determined that there will be no let-up on the pressure which the Gardaí are bringing to bear on the organised gangs engaged in burglary, including the mobile gangs who have targeted rural communities in various parts of the country.

Underpinning the strong policing action now being taken against burglars and criminal gangs is the Government’s commitment to continue the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme. I am pleased that Budget 2019 provides for the continuation of this increase in resources with an increase of over €100 million on the 2018 allocation.

Undoubtedly, rural communities will benefit from the significant injection of policing resources provided by the Government.

National Standards Authority of Ireland

Questions (259)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

259. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the NSAI will publish a standard on the recommendation that carbon monoxide alarms be included in sleeping areas of buildings that are non-domestic in nature; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51688/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

During the course of 2018, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has been engaged in the development of draft Irish Standard I.S. 820 - Non-domestic gas installations. A public consultation was held earlier this year as part of that development process.

Standard I.S. 820 included a proposal to recommend installation of carbon monoxide detection in sleeping areas of commercial buildings. This issue was the subject of comments submitted as part of the public consultation process. Upon review of those comments, the technical experts and regulators considered that this specific matter required separate consideration and assessment.

As a result, the NSAI Gas Technical Standards Committee, at its recent meeting in November 2018, agreed to exclude this recommendation from I.S. 820. It also agreed that the establishment of a new working group, dedicated to this topic, would be more appropriate.

This group will be formed early in 2019 and will aim to have stakeholder participation from other sectors of fuel types, such as gas, oil and solid fuels. One of the group’s initial tasks will be to seek NSAI Board approval for the work and set timelines for output delivery.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (260)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

260. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the legislation on gift vouchers will be finalised; when legislation will be introduced in Dáil Éireann; the target date for enacting the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51522/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

On 12 June 2018, the Government approved the drafting of the Unfair Contract Terms (Gift Vouchers) Bill 2018. The Bill provides, first, that gift vouchers must be valid for a minimum term of five years and, secondly, that the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, would have power to set fees for the issue and replacement of gift vouchers and for inactive balances on gift vouchers (commonly referred to as dormancy or maintenance fees).

Officials of my Department are currently working on the text of the Bill with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel with a view to finalising the drafting in the coming weeks.

I am disappointed that it has not proved possible to progress the Bill more quickly for the benefit of consumers however I want to assure the Deputy that the Bill is a priority for me and I would hope that it will pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas without delay after publication.

Company Law

Questions (261)

Clare Daly

Question:

261. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the regulation of receivers with particular reference to circumstances in which instances of the receiver vacating premises which were occupied by paying tenants and leaving the building idle, therefore increasing the liability on the owner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51558/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Receivership is a remedy that derives from courts of equity. The relevant law in relation to receivership is largely made up of rules which the courts have developed by applying general contract law and equitable principles. Receivers are appointed under a relevant security e.g. a mortgage or a charge which contains the contractual terms in relation to their appointment and their powers under the instrument. Depending on the circumstances of the case, courts may also, on application from a secured creditor, exercise their discretionary powers to appoint a receiver. Receivers can also be appointed under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 in the case of mortgages created after 1 December 2009, and the Conveyancing Act 1881 for mortgages created prior to that date.

Section 437 of the Companies Act 2014 confers statutory powers on the receiver of the property of a company and is intended to alleviate many of the problems which may arise from poorly drafted debentures. However, section 437(4) makes clear that these powers are limited by any provision in the instrument under which the receiver was appointed, again underlying the essentially contractual nature of receivership.

A receiver will have the right to secure and sell the property the subject of the debenture so that the debt to the lender can be repaid. However, section 437(5) of the Act provides that the conferral of powers in relation to the property of a company does not affect any rights in relation to that property of any other person.

When selling the property, a receiver has specific statutory duties under section 439 of the Companies Act 2014 which provides that:

(i) receivers must achieve the best price reasonably obtainable at the time of sale; and

(ii) the receiver must not sell by private contract a non-cash asset of a company to a person who is or who, within three years prior to the date of appointment of the receiver, has been, an officer of the company unless the Receiver has given 14 days’ notice of his or her intention to do so to all creditors of the company who are known to him or her or who have been intimated to him or her.

These statutory duties make it imperative that the receiver obtains expert legal and valuation advice in relation to the sale of property, consistent with the duty “to obtain the best price reasonably obtainable”. Breach of a receiver’s statutory duties may result in the receiver being held personally liable for any loss incurred.

It should be noted that receivers of the property of a company also have a duty under Part 8 of the Companies Act 2014 to provide certain information to the Registrar of Companies and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (262)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

262. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of an application for a work permit by a person (details supplied). [51564/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Employment Permits section of my Department inform me that an application for a Critical Skills Employment Permit for the person concerned was received on 29th November 2018.

The Employment Permits section is experiencing high levels of demand for employment permits this year and this has contributed to increased processing times for applications.  At end November 2018, 15,550 applications had been received, a 27% increase on the same time last year. My Department regrets the current delays, and those involved are working hard to bring processing times back to within customer service target times.

Through a combination of additional resources, fast-tracked training for new processors and various operational and ICT improvements, processing times are now reducing. Trusted Partner processing times have reduced to 5 weeks (from a peak of 7 weeks) and Standard application processing times have reduced to 11 weeks (from a peak of 16 weeks).

Further reductions in processing times are anticipated in the coming weeks as the changes being implemented by my officials continue to show results.

The Employment Permit application in question will be considered within the next 9-10 weeks.

I am determined to bring employment permit processing times back to within our customer service targets as soon as possible.