Refugee Status Applications

Questions (486)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

486. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of a proposal and application pursuant to the Irish refugee protection programme, humanitarian admissions programme, IHAP, in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13015/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the person concerned has made a proposal under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, Humanitarian Admissions Programme (IHAP) for two family members to join her in the State.

The IHAP programme was established to provide humanitarian admission to Ireland for 530 eligible family members of Irish citizens and those with protection status in Ireland. A second call for proposals under the IHAP issued in December 2018, with a closing date for proposals of the 8 February 2019. Processing of proposals under the second call has commenced, however a large number of proposals has again been received (over 800 proposals in respect of over 1700 potential beneficiaries). Processing will therefore take some time to complete and it is not possible at this stage to give an indication of when a decision will issue in respect of any particular proposal. However it is anticipated that the majority of decisions will issue by June 2019.

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.

Deportation Orders Re-examination

Questions (487)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

487. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the deportation order against a person (details supplied) will be reviewed and reversed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13051/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order issued on 15 March 2019. This Order requires the person concerned to remove themselves from the State and remain outside the State. The enforcement of Deportation Orders are a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

It is open to the person concerned to submit representations requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked, pursuant to Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). However, I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

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.

Election Management System

Questions (488)

Gerry Adams

Question:

488. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures being taken to ensure that persons resident in the Mosney direct provision centre, County Meath, are being provided with information on the right to vote in upcoming elections in May 2019; his plans to facilitate contact with candidates within this centre to ensure that residents can engage fully with the democratic process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13052/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Department of Justice and Equality, through the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA), has always facilitated and encouraged the registration of and voting by protection applicants in local elections. Residents are informed with regard to their eligibility to vote in particular elections and on arrangements for registering as voters.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration within my Department has supported a number of events focused on encouraging political participation of migrants in local politics.

Multi-lingual material has been developed for voter registration information and for the local and European elections. This information is accessible and available on the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government website.

RIA has recently revised its policy in relation to canvassing and political activity in accommodation centres. This is in line with actions in the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020 which focus on efforts to ensure that the political system becomes more representative of the broader population.

In the 30 day period leading up to a referendum or election (local, national or European) in which residents may be eligible to vote, canvassers and political representatives may leave material for display in a designated area, e.g. on the public notice board / tables in the accommodation centre for the information of residents.

Canvassers and candidates may arrange to meet by appointment with residents in communal spaces, in keeping with the agreed procedures for visitors to centres as outlined in ‘RIA House Rules & Procedures - Revised January 2019’. Centre managers should put measures in place to facilitate such visits.

In instances where a centre is comprised of individual accommodation units and includes mobile homes, houses and self-catering apartments, candidates and canvassers may be facilitated where they wish to call ‘door to door’. However, there is no requirement on the part of a resident to engage with any candidate unless they choose to do so.

Centres should display notices in prominent locations throughout the accommodation centre within the 30 day period leading up to a referendum or local election indicating that:-

1. A referendum/local elections is being held with the polling date specified;

2. Residents in accommodation centres with the right to vote in local elections may be approached by candidates and/or canvassers on their behalf;

3. They are not required to engage with any candidate and/or canvasser;

4. It is the responsibility of each resident to ensure that they are registered to vote within an appropriate time frame.

Given the particular nature of the accommodation provided in centres, there are factors that limit unrestricted access by candidates to the private living quarters of residents. These include the communal nature of the accommodation system and the many practical and logistical difficulties that would arise for centre managers in providing unsupervised access in circumstances where families and children live together.

The general policy ensures that there are no restrictions placed on residents’ voting rights, or on their rights to access whatever information that candidates wish to convey to them, or on any rights to meet with candidates in the public areas of centres. It also ensures privacy in the residential units and the on-going protection of children in the centre.

There is an opportunity for the Friends of the Centre group at each centre to provide information to residents on how to register to vote and on the importance of local government within the political structure of the State. The Friends of the Centre groups can also raise awareness in an informal way about the importance of voting.

Crime Data

Questions (489, 490, 491, 504, 505)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

489. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding tackling violent crimes involving knives; the new initiatives under way to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13092/19]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

490. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions taken to date to monitor the prevalence and frequency of individuals carrying knife and knife-like instruments on their persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13093/19]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

491. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 303 of 27 November 2018, the number of crimes in which a knife was used or was an element of the crime in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13094/19]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

504. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the oversight mechanism by which his Department identifies trends in the use of knives by individuals engaged in criminal activities in view of continued difficulties in the collection of information on the PULSE database. [13233/19]

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Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

505. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána by county in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13234/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 to 491, inclusive, 504 and 505 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistics agency, is responsible for the publication of recorded crime statistics.

While the statistical information being sought by the Deputy is not currently being published by the CSO, I can advise the Deputy that my Department received a report from An Garda Síochána in relation to knife seizures, which indicates year on year increases in the numbers of knives seized by An Garda Síochána, with approximately 1,200 seized in 2016, 1,600 seized in 2017 and almost 2,000 seized last year.

I am advised that An Garda Síochána is addressing the issue of knife crime through education and engagement with community initiatives. At an operational level, An Garda Síochána pro-actively targets public disorder and anti-social behaviour, including knife-related crime, through the strategic deployment of Garda resources, and areas identified as public order hot-spots by local Garda management are the subject of additional foot and mobile patrols.

I am further informed that An Garda Síochána established a Working Group to formulate a "National Strategy to Deal with Assaults against the Person". An Garda Síochána has included knife crime as part of the remit of the working group tasked with drafting the strategy.

The working group will continue to monitor the prevalence and frequency of individuals carrying a knife and knife-like instruments on their person, whilst devising a strategy to tackle assaults against the person, including assaults involving the use of a knife. The working group is expected to present a draft strategy to the Garda Executive for consideration by July 2019.

My Department also wrote to the Garda authorities in February 2019 to seek an update on the recent work of An Garda Síochána in tackling knife-related crime, and in particular the progress being made by Gardaí to improve the quality of knife crime statistics recorded on the PULSE system.

When a response is received, and has been fully considered by my Department, I hope to able to provide the Deputy with an update.

Fire Safety

Questions (492)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

492. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a fire (details supplied) was due to the failure of the safety system; the number of requests for maintenance lodged by staff over the past three years; the number acted upon; when maintenance was last carried out on the fire safety systems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13173/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to assure the Deputy that the safety of both staff and prisoners is of paramount concern to me as Minister and to management of the Irish Prison Service.

I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that the cause of the fire at Midlands prison has not been fully determined as the investigation by the Prison Service Fire Safety Officer is on-going. That investigation includes liaison with the local fire service who responded to the incident. The fire was contained to a particular room at the prison. It resulted in the transfer of a number of prisoners from Midlands to Portlaoise Prison as a contingency measure, rather than their evacuation from the prison. I have also been advised that all fire safety systems operated correctly during the incident.

Over the past three years 42 maintenance requests relating to the fire safety system have been lodged by staff, all of which have been acted upon.

The maintenance of the prison fire safety system is covered under a service contract and all systems are serviced in line with applicable contracts.

I have been informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the latest servicing of the prison fire safety system commenced on the 4th February 2019 and was completed on the 20th February 2019. I can also confirm the fire suppression system was serviced on the 19th February 2019.

Student Visas Applications

Questions (493)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

493. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cause of the delays in processing applications under the special student scheme; and the steps that can be taken to speed up the process in view of delays leaving many applicants in limbo for years. [13177/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the Special Scheme for Students was launched on 15 October, 2018 and closed to new applications on 20 January, 2019. INIS received approximately 3,100 applications comprising former students and their family members. To date, INIS has made decisions in respect of 705 cases.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is necessary to process such applications in compliance with legal requirements and in accordance with the Scheme criteria. While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the overall volume of applications and the complexity of individual cases.

INIS has already taken a number of measures to address this cohort of complex cases including the introduction of an on-line application facility for the Scheme to make it as streamlined as possible for applicants. The resources available for processing these applications, which include the provision of overtime, and the accompanying operational and organisational structures, are kept under ongoing review to ensure that applications are processed as efficiently as possible.

Immigration Status

Questions (494)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

494. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for a travel document in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13178/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that a decision will issue in this case in the coming days.

Queries in relation to the status of individual 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.

Residency Permits

Questions (495)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

495. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13182/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, in response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), written representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned.

These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation, in advance of a final decision being made.

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.

Residency Permits

Questions (496)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

496. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when residency status will be updated in the case of a person (details supplied); if the appropriate procedure for same will be outlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13188/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that there is no record of a request for permission to reside in the State on the basis of family relationship with an Irish National from the person concerned.

I am further informed that it is open to the person concerned to write to Unit 5, Domestic Residence and Permissions Division, INIS, PO Box 12695, Dublin 2, setting out their current circumstances. Alternatively the person may email INISdefacto@justice.ie for further information on how to proceed.

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.

Prison Drug Treatment Services

Questions (497)

Jack Chambers

Question:

497. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the establishment of therapeutic communities in prison settings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13202/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the prison environment provides a unique opportunity to support individuals in addressing their addiction issues, and it forms an important component in an overall response to drugs addiction issues in Irish society.

The Irish Prison Service is developing a new Irish Prison Service Drugs Strategy which will review measures to prevent drugs getting into prisons and changing patterns of illicit drug use. The Irish Prison Service in conjunction with The Probation Service commissioned a 'Review of Drug and Alcohol Treatment services for Adult Offenders in Prison and in the Community' the recommendations of which will form a key component of the new Drugs Strategy.

The Irish Prison Service continues to hold the establishment of a therapeutic community in a prison setting as one of its objectives and this will be contained in its forthcoming strategy for the period 2019 to 2021. I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that it is pursuing a collaborative approach in regard to the funding for the proposed therapeutic community with the Department of Health which is the lead agency in the area of drug treatment.

The development of a therapeutic community will complement the existing drug treatment programmes in the Irish Prison Service.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Questions (498)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

498. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the determination of eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13204/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, as indicated in my response to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 136 of 24 January 2019, the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy continues to be processed and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If further documentation is required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

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.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. 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.

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.

Asylum Applications

Questions (499)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

499. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application to remain here can be considered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13206/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy should be aware, that if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications and the applicant or his legal representative should contact the International Protection Office directly either by email to info@ipo.gov.ie, by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and cases involving permission to remain in the State have been introduced. Such applications are now processed, as part of a single application procedure, by a the International Protection Office (IPO) which has replaced the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) from that date. The staff of that Office (the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers) are independent in the performance of their protection functions.

For your information, on 27 February 2017, the Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications under the International Protection Act 2015 which is available on the website of the International Protection Office (www.ipo.gov.ie).

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.

Extradition Arrangements

Questions (500)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

500. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the case of a person (details supplied) facing extradition to Lithuania in view of the conditions faced by prisoners on pre-trial detention in Lithuanian prisons; his further views regarding the removal of a number of judges as a result of an anti-corruption investigation raising the potential for the denial of the human rights of persons in such a judicial system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13214/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the High Court is the competent authority in this State for matters and decisions pertaining to extradition and surrender under the European Arrest Warrant. As such, it is entirely independent in the discharge of these functions.

In the circumstances, it would be entirely inappropriate to make any comment on this matter.

Immigration Status

Questions (501)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

501. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for a travel document in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13215/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that a decision will issue in this case in the coming days.

Queries in relation to the status of individual 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.

Residency Permits

Questions (502)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

502. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13219/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned applied on 02/12/2016 for a residence card as a family member of an EU citizen under the provisions of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 and Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.

This person was advised on 07/11/2017 that their application was refused. This was because they had failed to establish that they were the de facto partner of the EU citizen in question, as they are required to be, under the provisions of the 2015 Regulations.

The person concerned requested a review of that decision on 21/11/2017. A decision was reached on their review application on 12/03/2019. They were advised that the decision to refuse their application for a residence card had been upheld, and the person concerned was issued with a notification of intention to deport letter, dated 12/03/2019.

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.

Family Reunification

Questions (503)

Clare Daly

Question:

503. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will exercise his discretion such that a person (details supplied) may be reunited with the person's sibling here. [13231/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am aware of the circumstances of the case referred to by the Deputy but I’m sure she will appreciate that I cannot comment on individual cases. In the normal course of events, in such cases family reunification are considered under the provisions of the International Protection Act 2015, for parents and siblings under 18 years who are exercising a right in such circumstances.

In addition, last year I also introduced an new pathway for family members from specified countries with the highest number of refugees to enable them to join under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admissions Programme 2 (IHAP).

IHAP, which operates under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, provides an opportunity to Irish citizens and persons with Convention refugee status, subsidiary protection status, and programme refugee status, who have immediate eligible family members from the current top 10 major source countries of refugees ( Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea and Burundi) to propose to the Minister for these family members to join them in Ireland.

Obviously, all such schemes must have applicable rules and IHAP’s key eligibility criteria identify the priority of the humanitarian needs targeted at those at greatest risk living in the countries specified above or in a neighbouring country. However, unique and very particular family circumstances are also examined separately on a case by case basis and I have requested my officials to look at this situation in that context.

Questions Nos. 504 and 505, inclusive, answered with Question No. 489.