Crime Investigation

Questions (506)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

506. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if research or investigations have been undertaken or commissioned on the occurrence of familicide here; his plans to establish a special investigation unit for familicide; his plans to ensure all such cases are subjected to multi-agency domestic homicide reviews as in other jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13253/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As I announced following my recent meeting with the Coll family, my Department is currently preparing terms of reference for a study about how best to support families in the most caring and effective way in the aftermath of murder suicides and work is at an advanced stage. As I have said, I envisage this study also examining the process of domestic homicide reviews and experience to date in other jurisdictions, with a view to making recommendations in relation to their application in this jurisdiction. I intend to consult relevant parties, including my Government colleagues and relevant experts, before finalising the terms of reference. I will examine any recommendations made, including any legislative change that may be proposed.

I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda National Protective Services Bureau is currently developing new policies and procedures to inform its approach to domestic homicide reviews in An Garda Síochána. It is envisaged that these reviews will examine the sufficiency of Garda policies in this area, their interactions with other external agencies and with the individuals and family concerned.

I am also informed by the Commissioner that the reviews will be a separate exercise to the investigation of the domestic homicide. They are not a review of the Garda investigation, a disciplinary enquiry or a fault finding exercise. Their purpose is to serve as a lessons learned review to facilitate better practice in the approach to domestic abuse. My view is this is a useful and necessary practise and will assist An Garda Síochána in seeking to continuously improve their approach to domestic abuse. As the Deputy is aware, a range of other agencies may be involved in such cases in addition to An Garda Síochána.

The development of a special unit to investigate murder-suicides is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have sought information from the Commissioner in relation to this matter and will revert to the Deputy when that information is to hand.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (507)

Joan Burton

Question:

507. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to provide funding to ensure the continuation of services by an organisation (details supplied) in view of the fact that funding has previously been allocated for the work and projects of the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13257/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that my Department does not fund services for people with disabilities.

I understand that the organisation in question previously received funding of in excess of €190,000 in 2018, and €60,000 in 2019, from the Health Service Executive and the Department of the Taoiseach, respectively.

Garda Transport Data

Questions (508)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

508. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of four-wheel drive Garda vehicles attached to each Garda division in Dublin as of 22 February 2019; and the number as of 31 December 2017. [13261/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that there has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years.

A total of €46 million has been provided by the Government for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021, in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Furthermore, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of his identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in that matter. I understand however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table sets out the number of four wheel drive Garda vehicles attached to each Garda Division in the Dublin Metropolitan Region for the dates requested by the Deputy.

Garda 4WD Fleet in the DMR

28/02/2019

31/12/2017

DMR EAST DIVISION

1

1

DMR NORTH DIVISION

1

1

DMR NORTH CENTRAL DIVISION

3

2

DMR SOUTH DIVISION

2

2

DMR SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION

0

1

DMR TRAFFIC DIVISION

4

3

DMR WEST DIVISION

0

0

DMR Total

11

10

Garda Vetting

Questions (509)

Niall Collins

Question:

509. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the concerns being expressed regarding the delays in dealing with Garda vetting relating to those wishing to be prison officers; the actions that can be taken in the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13264/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will understand, prior to making an appointment to the position of recruit prison officer, the Irish Prison Service is obliged to make such enquires as are deemed necessary to determine the suitability of candidates. Until all stages of the recruitment process have been fully completed, a final determination as to the success of any candidate cannot be made, nor can it be deemed or inferred that such a determination has been made.

Given the level of responsibility in prison officer positions, it is necessary for checks to be carried out by An Garda Síochána on persons considered for this employment. These checks can take time to complete for a variety of reasons; some of which may be outside of the control of the Garda Authorities, depending on the circumstances of the individual case. However, I am assured that every effort is made to expedite this process to the greatest extent possible.

Garda Data

Questions (510)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

510. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of behaviour warnings issued to children and adults, respectively, in 2018 by Garda division. [13268/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested the information from the Garda authorities and I will contact the Deputy again when the information is to hand.

Immigration Status

Questions (511)

Clare Daly

Question:

511. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the difference between a person being granted refugee status and an order for subsidiary protection; and the factors taken into account in making that decision. [13298/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the International Protection Act 2015, an international protection officer is responsible for the examination of the relevant facts and circumstances that apply to each international protection application.

An international protection officer is obliged to examine each application for international protection for the purpose of deciding whether the applicant is given either (a) a refugee declaration, (b) a subsidiary protection declaration or (c) neither a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration. There is a distinction between the criteria that must be met to be recognised as a refugee or a person eligible for subsidiary protection.

To be recognised as a refugee, an applicant must be a person who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of (i) race, (ii) religion, (iii) nationality, (iv) political opinion or (v) membership of a particular social group, is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail of the protection of that country, or a stateless person, who, being outside of his or her country of former habitual residence for the same reasons as mentioned above, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it and who is not excluded from eligibility for refugee status for certain reasons.

Subsidiary Protection is granted to a person who does not qualify as a refugee but where the international protection officer considers that the person faces a real risk of suffering serious harm in his or her country of origin. The precise definition is that a person eligible for subsidiary protection is a person (i) who is not a national of a Member State of the European Union, (ii) who does not qualify as a refugee, (iii) in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that he or she, if returned to his or her country of origin/country of former habitual residence, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm, and who is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; and (iv) who is not excluded from eligibility for subsidiary protection for certain reasons.

Serious harm means: (i) death penalty or execution, (ii) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of a person in his or her country of origin/country of former habitual residence, or (iii) serious and individual threat to a civilian's life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in a situation of international or internal armed conflict.

Garda Data

Questions (512)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

512. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of community gardaí allocated to County Limerick over the past ten years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13318/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who 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.

The Garda strength of the Limerick Division from 2009 to 31 January 2019 as provided by the Garda Commissioner is available on my Department's website through the links below.

Garda numbers 2009-2018

Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána as it recognises that every community, either urban or rural, has its own concerns and expectations. The role of a community Garda is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána; rather it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation of Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. It is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the Community Garda Strength of the Limerick Division in each of the years from 2009 to 31 January 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by the Garda Commissioner are as set out in the table.

Garda Strength Presented - Community Gardaí - Total

-

-

Limerick Division

Year

Community Gardaí

Total

2009

88

635

2010

81

643

2011

73

637

2012

67

605

2013

61

589

2014

58

565

2015

58

554

2016

42

559

2017

38

558

2018

31

607

2019*

32

590

*As of 31 January 2019

Total: means all those Gardaí at a station all of whom have community policing as an inherent part of their role.

Community Gardaí: are those with the official categorisation and are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities including giving talks to schools, community groups and others.

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the link below:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Fines Data

Questions (513)

Noel Grealish

Question:

513. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the value and number of unpaid fines in each of the years 2013 to 2018; the value and number of fines imposed by the courts in each of the years; the steps being taken to recover unpaid fines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13320/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department is compiling the information in relation to this matter and I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as I have the information to hand.

Fines Administration

Questions (514, 515)

Noel Grealish

Question:

514. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the number of persons who failed to pay fines imposed by the courts increased from 20,104 in the three years from 1 January 2013 to 10 January 2016 to 84,925 in the period from 11 January 2016 to March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13321/19]

View answer

Noel Grealish

Question:

515. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 is operating effectively in view of the fact that only 28 attachment of earnings orders or recovery orders were made against persons who failed to pay court fines imposed since the introduction of the Act in January 2016 and in view of the fact that the number of unpaid fines has quadrupled since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13322/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 514 and 515 together.

The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was enacted on 16th April 2014 and commenced on 11th January 2016. This made significant changes to fines payment and default procedures including abolishing default orders and introducing alternative ways to deal with unpaid fines.

It is therefore not possible to compare the present regime introduced in Jan 2016 to the period from 1st Jan 2013 to 10th January 2016, due to the fact that prior to the introduction of the 2014 Fines Act, Court orders imposing the payment of a fine included a default period of imprisonment if the fine was not paid.

I am aware that issues have been experienced in the implementation of the Act, which was introduced as a reforming and progressive measure and was widely supported in the Oireachtas. My Department has been working with stakeholders including An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service to identify what steps can be taken to address enforcement matters. As a result of this process , I have formed the view that a review of the Act is necessary, having regard to its policy objectives and the enforcement issues that have arisen, and my Department will be commencing this review with the key stakeholders shortly.

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. The Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the conduct of any court case, including the decision to make an attachment order, a recovery order or a community service order is a matter entirely for the presiding judge. While statistics show that at present there are approximately 84,925 persons who have failed to pay fines imposed, the position is that a large number of the outstanding cases are still live before the courts.

Fines Data

Questions (516)

Noel Grealish

Question:

516. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the offence categories in respect of which fines were imposed by the courts in each of the years 2016 to 2018; the offence categories in respect of which fines were imposed but were not paid in the same period by the number and monetary values in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13323/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that courts statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information sought by the Deputy. There are thousands of offence categories in respect of which fines can be imposed by the court and this information could only be obtained by the examination of individual court files which would require the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources.

Prison Service Data

Questions (517, 518, 519)

Clare Daly

Question:

517. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 193 of 12 March 2019, if data can be recorded centrally for future record keeping. [13355/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

518. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 193 of 12 March 2019, the method used for a prisoner to request the services of an Irish Sign Language interpreter. [13356/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

519. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 193 of 12 March 2019, his plans to follow up Irish Sign Language training in Mountjoy with refresher courses; and if the QQI level 3 Irish Sign Language course will be offered to staff in other prisons. [13357/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 517 to 519, inclusive, together.

My officials in the Irish Prison Service have indicated that a prisoner can request the services of the Irish Sign Language interpreter through a number of channels. The official method a prisoner can request this service is through the Governors Parade. However, a prisoner can also request the services of an interpreter through the class officer, medical staff or any other member of staff.

I am further informed by the Irish Prison Service that it is now standard practice that all prisoners committed to Prison or a prisoner transferred between Prisons are subject to a committal/transfer interview. As part of this interview, a prisoner is asked whether they require an interpreter in a particular language including Irish Sign Language. This information is recorded on the Prisoner Information Management System.

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that Irish Sign Language Courses including refresher courses are not scheduled in the current training programme for 2019.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Questions (520)

Clare Daly

Question:

520. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is provision for one or more of the conditions for naturalisation, such as for two of the five years' reckonable residence requirement, to be waived in the case of a person with subsidiary protection status. [13373/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

Section 15 of the Act provides that the Minister may grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions as set out in the Act are fulfilled. The statutory conditions include that the applicant must have had one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence in the State amounting to four years.

Periods of residence in the State in the asylum process while awaiting a decision on subsidiary protection are not reckonable for naturalisation purposes. Section 16 of the Act provides the power to the Minister to waive some or all of the statutory conditions in the certain cases as set out in that section. However, there is no statutory provision for the exercise of such discretion in the case of persons granted subsidiary protection.

Every application for a certificate of naturalisation is considered on its own merits having regard to the statutory conditions set out in the Act. Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation, as well as the relevant application forms, is available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie. The website also contains guidance on the completion of an application for naturalisation.

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 Medical Service

Questions (521, 522, 523)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

521. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of doctors directly employed by the Irish Prison Service; the prisons they are employed in; the number of prisoners in each of those prisons in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13384/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

522. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of locum doctors used by the Irish Prison Service; the prisons they are assigned to; the number of prisoners in each of those prisons in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13385/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

523. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the required doctor-prisoner ratio that the Irish Prison Service must maintain; the number and location of each prison that fails to meet the requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13386/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 521 to 523, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that all persons in custody are provided with a range of healthcare services based on an equivalence of care to that provided under the General Medical Scheme in the community. Those services are based on a primary care model which includes general practitioner services made available to all persons in custody.

The total number of sessions delivered across the Service on a weekly basis is 95. These sessions are delivered by a mix of directly employed doctors, locum general practitioners and through contracts for service. The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that it currently employs four permanent prison doctors. The prisons they are employed in and the number of prisoners in each prison are set out in the table.

Prison

Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*

Mountjoy

679

Dóchas Centre

132

Midlands Prison

823

Cloverhill Prison

402

*Provisional pending publication of Annual Report

The Irish Prison Service also delivers general practitioner sessions through the services of locum doctors who are engaged by way of an existing contract agreement. A panel of 30 suitably qualified general practitioners are available to the Irish Prison Service. This equates to approximately 12 whole-time equivalent locum doctors delivering general practitioner sessions across the prison estate.

The table sets out the prisons locum doctors are employed in and the number of prisoners in each prison.

Prison

Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*

Arbour Hill

135

Castlerea Prison

300

Cloverhill Prison

402

Cork Prison

288

Limerick Prison

247 (33 – female, 214 – male)

Loughan House

110

Midlands Prison

823

Mountjoy Prison

679

Portlaoise Prison

227

Shelton Abbey

97

Wheatfield Prison

452

*Provisional pending publication of Annual Report

The Irish Prison Service continues to explore and develop all possible avenues to ensure the recruitment of permanent prison doctors, and procure the services of qualified general practitioners to maintain its delivery of effective general practitioner services.

The Irish Prison Service further advised that it is currently making arrangements for procuring the expertise required to carry out a comprehensive Healthcare Needs Assessment of the prison population, with a view to determining the current and future healthcare requirements of prisoners. The Healthcare Needs Assessment will take into account the health needs of prisoners, the demand for healthcare services, and the level of healthcare currently being provided. This assessment is intended to identify opportunities to enhance the quality of healthcare services and the level of service provided.

Judicial Appointments

Questions (524)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

524. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide information regarding the Court of Appeal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13387/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Court of Appeal was established on 28 October 2014 and is composed of a President and nine ordinary judges, with the Chief Justice and the President of the High Court ex officio judges of the Court.

The President of the Court of Appeal and the first eight ordinary judges of the Court were appointed by the President on 29 October 2014. The ninth ordinary judge of the Court was appointed on 4 December 2014.

Since 2014 there have been a number of retirements and elevations in the Court of Appeal with eight new ordinary judges appointed on the following dates: 13 September 2016, 19 June 2017, 19 December 2017, 28 June 2018 (two appointments), 27 July 2018 and 13 November 2018 (two appointments). The current President of the Court of Appeal was appointed on 28 May 2018.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government has approved bringing forward legislation to increase the number of ordinary judges in the Court of Appeal from nine to fifteen. This legislation is currently being progressed by my Department.

Asylum Applications

Questions (525)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

525. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13396/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, 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 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.