Naturalisation Applications

Questions (569)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

569. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) will receive a decision on their application for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13942/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the processing of the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy has entered the final stage of processing and the applicant will be informed of my decision shortly.

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. While most straightforward cases are now processed within six months, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

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.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (570)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

570. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider offering British citizens who are working and living here for an extended period Irish citizenship, especially in view of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14045/19]

View answer

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. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.

Section 15 of the Act provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation if satisfied that certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are that the applicant must :

- be of full age, or a minor born in the State,

- be of good character,

- have had a period of 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,

- intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation,

-  have, before a judge of the District Court in open court, in a citizenship ceremony or in such manner as the Minister, for special reasons, allows—

(i)  made a declaration, in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and

(ii) undertaken to faithfully observe the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values.

Thus, the category of applicants referred to in the question would appear to meet the residence requirements as outlined above.

Section 15A provides that, notwithstanding the above, where the application is based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the requirements include that the couple are married or civil partners to each other for a period of at least 3 years and are living together and, immediately before the date of application, have a period of one year's continuous residence in the island of Ireland and, during the preceding four years, have a further period amounting to 2 years (i.e. 3 years in total). Section 15A(2) provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion waive some of the conditions in relation to an application from a spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen if he is satisfied that the applicant would suffer serious consequences in respect of his or her bodily integrity or liberty if not granted Irish citizenship.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory conditions as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie.

Garda Equipment

Questions (571)

Seán Haughey

Question:

571. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of having automatic number plate recognition installed in each remaining Garda roads policing unit vehicle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14078/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, there has been an unprecedented level of investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years, in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country.  In total, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies and a total of €46 million is being invested in the Garda fleet over the same period.

As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions in relation to the provision, allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources are matters for the Garda Commissioner. As Minister, I have no direct role in that regard.

I am informed that Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) was first introduced by the Garda authorities in 2008 and is used on a daily basis to assist in the prevention and detection of crime on our roads network. The Garda authorities advise that the number of Garda vehicles fitted with ANPR equipment varies on a daily basis due to operational factors, including repair and maintenance of equipment and ‘end-of-life’ of vehicles or equipment, updating of software, the decommissioning of damaged units and so on.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that due to technical and design specifications, a proportion of the vehicles attached to the Roads Policing do not accept the ANPR technology currently in use.

I am further informed that the cost of fitting ANPR in the remaining vehicles attached to Roads Policing and which are suitable for current ANPR technology would amount to approximately €1,212,500.

Garda Equipment

Questions (572)

Seán Haughey

Question:

572. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding will be provided for the replacement of riot shields for Garda public order units; when the shields were last updated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14079/19]

View answer

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, in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

An allocation of €1.76 billion has been provided by Government to An Garda Síochána for 2019. 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. Further, the allocation of Garda resources, including equipment and specialist equipment such as riot shields, is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that following a review of Garda public order unit equipment, a total of 250 riot shields were purchased by An Garda Síochána and delivered earlier this year. I am further informed by An Garda Síochána that it is satisfied it has adequate resources on hand to meet operational requirements in this regard.

Garda Deployment

Questions (573)

Seán Haughey

Question:

573. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of shifts over which community gardaí in the R district Dublin are spread; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14080/19]

View answer

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 areas referred to by the Deputy are part of the Dublin Metropolitan Region (D.M.R.) North Division and I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of the D.M.R. North Division on 31 January 2019, the latest date for which information is currently available, was 714 of whom 215 were assigned to the Garda R District (Coolock District) There are also 40 Garda Reserves and 53 Garda civilian staff attached to the Division. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Armed Support Unit, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

The Garda strength of the DMR North from 2009 to 31 January 2019 as provided by the Garda Commissioner is available on my Department’s website through the following links.

Garda Numbers by Division, District and Station

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.

I am advised by the Commissioner that all Community Gardaí in the R District are rostered across four units, working Early (7 a.m. - 5 p.m.), Late (12 p.m.-10 p.m./4 p.m.-2 a.m., depending what day the late falls in the roster), and Night Shifts (6 p.m.- 4 a.m.).  

The information in relation to the Community Garda Strength in Coolock, Malahide and Swords Garda Stations as on 31 January 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by  the Garda Commissioner are as set out in the following table.

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

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

Garda Strength Presented - Community Gardaí - Total

Station

Coolock

Malahide

Swords

Year

Community Gardaí

Total

Community Gardaí

Total

Community Gardaí

Total

2019*

7

110

0

25

10

80

*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.

Garda Accommodation

Questions (574)

Seán Haughey

Question:

574. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding will be provided for the development of property and evidence management stores in the Dublin metropolitan region north; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14081/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019. These resources are being provided in support of the Government's commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period.

In terms of the Garda estate, the Deputy will appreciate that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation and works in relation to Garda accommodation are progressed by the Garda authorities in close cooperation with the OPW.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016 - 2021 includes plans for the development of Property and Evidence Management Stores (PEMS) in the Louth Division, Kildare Division and the Dublin Metropolitan Region South Division.

The Garda authorities have informed me that the Dublin Metropolitan Region North Division is serviced by a PEMS store in Santry Garda Station. There is no provision in the Building and Refurbishment Programme for the development of an additional PEMS store in the Dublin Metropolitan Region North Division.

Visa Applications

Questions (575)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

575. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 275 of 9 December 2014, the reason a visa application by a person (details supplied) was refused; and if the application will be reconsidered in view of this eligibility and other family member support. [14096/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the visa application referred to was refused on appeal, and the reasons were outlined to the applicant.   

The position remains as indicated previously, and receipt of a disability allowance does not preclude a person from being an eligible sponsor. However, financial capacity is just one of the considerations when making a determination on a family reunification application. This consideration includes the joint capacity of both the sponsor and the applicant to support the applicant without undue recourse to public funds or resources. As with any visa application, all such applications are considered on their own merits having regard to the information provided and individual circumstances involved.

It is open to the applicant to submit a fresh visa application at any time. However, they should bear in mind the reasons for refusal and address them in any new application.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (576, 578)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

576. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeline in relation to the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14114/19]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

578. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase the number of weeks parental leave parents are entitled to in respect of each qualifying child; his further plans to increase the qualifying age of the child; when the changes will come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14147/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 576 and 578 together.

It is important to note that the Government has always been, and continues to be, supportive of the principle of parental leave. In fact, as part of Budget 2019, the Government announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme which will commence later this year. This new scheme will initially provide two weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent, with a view to expanding the scheme and increasing the number of weeks of paid leave for both parents in future years.

I can advise the Deputy that work is well advanced on the General Scheme of legislative proposals to implement the new scheme, and these proposals will be brought to Government for approval shortly.

While the Government is not the sponsor of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, a Private Member's Bill, I can advise that officials of my Department are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to bring forward amendments at Seanad Report Stage.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Data

Question No. 578 answered with Question No. 576.

Questions (577)

Clare Daly

Question:

577. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 206 of 12 March 2019, if only two cases are under active consideration by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. [14137/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As outlined in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 206 of 12 March, two General Scheme Compensation applications have been assigned to Members for direction on how to proceed with the cases. This does not reflect the overall number of cases which are under active consideration by the Tribunal. So far this year the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal has received 72 applications (41 under the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted and 31 under the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted on Prison Officers). These applications, as well as those on hand before the start of the year, continue to be progressed to a point where they can be submitted to a member for decision.

Question No. 578 answered with Question No. 576.

Garda Transport Provision

Questions (579)

Seán Fleming

Question:

579. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding has been provided in 2019 to purchase additional Garda mountain bikes; if so, when the bikes will come into the fleet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14152/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, there has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years. The budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 amounts to €1.76 billion. Significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána in terms of the Garda Fleet, ICT infrastructure and the estate. 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.

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of his identified operational demands. Decisions in relation to the effective and efficient use of resources, including purchase and allocation of mountain bikes, are for the Commissioner. I understand 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 11 new mountain bikes were allocated to various Garda Districts in 2018 and a further 9 mountain bikes will be allocated to various Garda Districts in 2019.

The Garda authorities have informed me that there are sufficient funds available within the 2019 Garda budget to purchase any additional mountain bikes should there be an operational requirement to do so.

Garda Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Questions (580)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

580. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of drug driving arrests made by county in the south-eastern Garda division from 2014 to 2018, inclusive, and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14159/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As arrest data is not recorded by the Department, I have asked An Garda Síochána whether these statistics can be compiled. Once a report is received, I will forward the data directly to the Deputy.

The Deputy may already be aware that similar data on recorded crime offences for "driving/in charge of a vehicle under the influence of drugs", by division and quarter is publically available from the Central Statistics Office under classification code 0413:

https://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=CJQ03&PLanguage=0 

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 580 of 26 March 2019 in which the Deputy asked for the number of drug driving arrests made by county in the south eastern Garda division from 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019. The Deputy will recall that I sought a report from An Garda Síochána which is now at hand.
I am informed that incidents for driving under the influence of an intoxicant are not divided into separate alcohol and drug offences and therefore the specific information you requested is not available. However, I am informed that An Garda Síochána has conducted 18,852 Mandatory Intoxicant Testing Checkpoints in the South Eastern Region since the introduction of Mandatory Intoxicant Testing Checkpoints on 13 April, 2017 and up until 24 March, 2019).
The following tables provide the number of arrests for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (including both drug and alcohol), divided by region and county. Please note that statistics provided are provisional and liable to change and are correct as of 24th March, 2019.
Number of Arrests for Driving under the Influence from 2014-2019 (as of 24/03/2019)

DUI Arrests

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Dublin Region

1678

1544

1604

1632

1665

366

Eastern Region

1118

1119

1329

1556

1623

330

Northern Region

1040

1001

1166

1285

1242

272

South Eastern Region

1126

1073

1152

1369

1400

298

Southern Region

1574

1580

1638

1752

1680

347

Western Region

1058

1100

1179

1329

1242

241

DUI Arrests South Eastern Region

-

-

-

-

-

-

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Waterford

248

225

269

268

254

59

Tipperary

361

330

314

477

480

100

Kilkenny/Carlow

279

263

282

287

305

65

Wexford

238

255

287

337

361

74

The following table shows the number of motorists that have tested positive for an intoxicant at these checkpoints, as broken down per county .
POSITIVE ROADSIDE BREATH TESTS & ORAL FLUID TESTS AT MIT CHECKPOINTS – SOUTH EASTERN REGION

Division

Date Period

No. of Positive Roadside Breath Tests

No. of Positive Oral Fluid Tests

Tipperary

13/04/17 – 24/03/19

131

7

Waterford

13/04/17 – 24/03/19

100

7

Wexford

13/04/17 – 24/03/19

172

27

Kilkenny/Carlow

13/04/17 – 24/03/19

135

8

I hope this information is of some assistance.

Courts Service

Questions (581)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

581. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 107 of 23 January 2019, if a decision has been made on the future delivery of court services in the District Court area of Kilcock, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14190/19]

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, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the review of the future delivery of court services in the District Court area of Kilcock is in its final stages. Consultation has already taken place with the relevant stakeholders including TDs, legal practitioners, the Irish Prison Service, An Garda Síochána and members of the Judiciary.

The Courts Service has advised that details and costing of works that would be required to repair Kilcock Courthouse have been received from the Office of Public Works and that a report was considered by the Courts Service Building Committee on 19 March 2019. I understand that a further consultation with relevant stakeholders will now be carried out.

The Courts Service has further advised that a decision in relation to the closure of a Court venue is a matter for Courts Service Board and that it is expected that a report will be brought to the Board at its meeting in June 2019 when the consultation process has been completed.

Legal Aid Service Staff

Questions (582)

Clare Daly

Question:

582. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of solicitors employed by the Legal Aid Board in each of its law centres in each of the past five years; and the recruitment plans of the board for the next three years. [14220/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Figures supplied by the Legal Aid Board for the number of solicitors in each of its law centres and for its central and specialist units for the years from 2013 - 2018 (inclusive) are set out in the following table.

I am advised by the Board that it will carry out recruitment activity over the next three years, including in relation to solicitor grades, within its allocated resources and that recruitment requirements at solicitor grades will be kept under on-going review.

Law Centres

Total Solicitors

2013

Total Solicitors  

2014

Total Solicitors  

2015

Total Solicitors  

2016

Total Solicitors  

2017

Total Solicitors  

2018

Athlone Law Centre

4

4

5

5

4

4

Blanchardstown Law Centre

2

3

4

3

4

4

Brunswick Street Law Centre

7

 

 

 

 

 

Castlebar Law Centre

2

2

3

3

3

3

Cavan Law Centre

2

2

2

2

2

2

Clondalkin Law Centre

3

3

4

4

4

3

Cork North Law Centre

8

8

9

10

8

8

Cork South Law Centre

8

9

8

8

9

8

District Court Service

1

3

5

4

3

3

Dundalk Law Centre

2

2

2

3

2

3

Ennis Law Centre

3

3

3

3

3

3

Finglas Law Centre

5

6

5

4

4

3

Galway (Seville House)

 

3

4

4

5

6

Galway Law Centre

6

5

5

5

7

7

Gardiner Street Law Centre

6

6

5

6

7

7

George's Lane Law Centre

2

 

 

 

 

 

Head of Civil Operations

1

1

 

2

2

2

Kilkenny Law Centre

5

4

5

6

5

6

LAB-HQ

1

 

 

 

 

 

Legal Services Unit 3

 

 

 

 

 

2

Letterkenny Law Centre

3

3

4

4

4

4

Limerick Law Centre

3

3

3

5

4

4

Longford Law Centre

2

2

2

1

2

2

Medical Negligence Unit

2

2

2

1

3

4

Monaghan Law Centre

3

3

5

5

5

4

Navan Law Centre

3

2

2

2

3

4

Nenagh Law Centre

4

3

4

3

5

4

Newbridge Law Centre

3

5

4

3

4

4

Personal Injuries Unit

 

1

1

1

1

 

Portlaoise Law Centre

2

2

2

2

4

3

Private Practitioner Scheme

 

1

1

1

 

 

RLS Children

1

 

 

 

 

 

RLS Cork and Galway

2

 

 

 

 

 

RLS General

8

 

 

 

 

 

RLS Judicial Review

2

 

 

 

 

 

Sligo Law Centre

2

2

2

2

2

2

Smithfield Law Centre

1

15

17

18

17

18

Tallaght Law Centre

3

3

3

3

3

4

Tralee Law Centre

4

3

3

3

4

4

Tullamore Law Centre

2

2

3

4

2

3

Waterford Law Centre

3

3

3

3

3

3

Wexford Law Centre

3

5

4

5

4

5

Wicklow Law Centre

4

4

4

5

4

4

Total

128

128

138

143

146

150

Legal Aid Service Staff

Questions (583)

Clare Daly

Question:

583. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of staff allocated to the refugee documentation centre operated by the Legal Aid Board; the qualifications required by the board for a person to work in a research capacity within the unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Legal Aid Board that the Refugee Documentation Centre is an independent library and research function which operates within the Research, Learning, and Development Unit of the Legal Aid Board. At this point in time, the Centre's primary activity is to answer research requests from various asylum agencies, including preparation of country information packs. There are 11 staff members (full-time equivalent) in the Research, Learning, and Development Unit, of whom 6 (full-time equivalent) are dedicated to Refugee Documentation Centre-related work.

Furthermore, I am advised by the Legal Aid Board that no particular specialist or technical qualifications are required to work in the Refugee Documentation Centre.

Legislative Process

Questions (584)

Michael McGrath

Question:

584. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Judicial Council Bill 2017 will be moved in Seanad Éireann in March 2019; if not, when he expects to move the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14235/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Judicial Council Bill 2017 is currently awaiting Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann. It is envisaged that Committee Stage will be taken before the end of the current session and the objective is to secure enactment of the Bill during the course of this year.

Legislative Process

Questions (585)

Michael McGrath

Question:

585. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14236/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Civil Liability (Capping of General Damages) Bill 2019 was introduced by Senator Anthony Lawlor as a Private Member’s Bill (PMB) in the Seanad on 6 March 2019. The Bill intends to provide, with a supporting review framework, for the imposition of a cap on the level of awards which may be made in respect of a claim for general damages arising from personal injury. The Bill is, therefore, a matter of ongoing consideration by my own and other relevant Departments in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. In light of this consideration, the Government's views in relation to this Bill will be conveyed in the appropriate manner when it is taken for Second Stage in the Seanad which is scheduled for Thursday of this week, 28 March 2019.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (586)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

586. 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). [13433/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Employment Permits Section of my Department inform me that a General Employment Permit for the person concerned (details supplied) issued on 22 March 2019.

Brexit Issues

Questions (587)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

587. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the degree to which she and her EU colleagues have taken into account and treated seriously the recent implied indicators of a trade war between the UK and individual EU countries as recently announced; the extent to which this country and the EU is alert to such developments; the action proposed to protect national and EU interests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14258/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

International Trade Policy is a competence of the EU Commission under the EU Treaties and defined as the Common Commercial Policy (CCP). Under this architecture the Commission represents Ireland and other Member States taking into account the needs of individual Member States and the collective good of the Union. As such, the EU is leading on all aspects of trade relating to Brexit.

Regarding Ireland and the EU's trading relationship with the United Kingdom once the UK has exited the EU, I am acutely aware that a no-deal scenario would have significant impacts for our economy, and certain sectors in particular. This is why the EU - with the full support of our Government - has agreed a Withdrawal Agreement with the UK Government with a view to negotiating a Future Trading Relationship with the UK once it has exited the Union. Such arrangements offer the best prospects of mitigating the negative consequences of the UK's exit from the EU for the UK itself, for the EU and for Ireland.

Nonetheless, in February 2018, my Department published research modelling the economic impacts of different Brexit outcomes. It showed that, relative to a status quo baseline - that is, on a no policy change basis - in 2030 Ireland’s GDP growth would be some 2.8% lower under an EEA type agreement, 4.3% lower under a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement and 7% lower on WTO terms than would otherwise be the case. That is, our growth rates over the period would be reduced by the impacts of Brexit, assuming no other actions were taken to address and mitigate the Brexit impacts.

Given that exposure, the Government has consistently prioritised the need to avoid a no-deal scenario and maintain as close a trading relationship with the UK as possible post-Brexit.

As the Deputy will be fully aware, and as noted already, the EU and UK negotiators agreed in December 2018 the Withdrawal Agreement. This Agreement was the product of two years of negotiation taking into account the UK’s ‘red lines’ and the EU’s requirement to protect and support the single market and the Good Friday Agreement. The Deputy will also be aware that on 21 March, the European Council agreed with the United Kingdom to an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons during this next week. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons, the European Council has agreed to an extension until 12 April 2019 and expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the Council. The Government is hopeful of a favourable outcome in this regard and has noted that it is unfortunate that the UK Parliament have been, to date, unable to pass the Withdrawal Agreement.

As An Tánaiste and An Taoiseach have both said recently, Brexit is a lose, lose, lose scenario - i.e. the UK, the EU and Ireland all lose out. Nonetheless, were the UK’s intentions for the future partnership to evolve further, the EU has made clear that the Union is prepared to further adjust the Political Declaration that sets the parameters for the Future Trading Relationship, which is designed to ameliorate as much as possible the negative impacts on trade and employment that will arise from Brexit. All obligations and benefits of WTO rules will be considered in that context, but those considerations cannot be pre-determined at this time.

Finally, I might note that we have recently enacted the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 (the ‘Omnibus Bill’). This piece of legislation allows the Government to amend a number of domestic laws in order to manage the negative sectoral impacts in the event the UK leaves the EU without reaching agreement on their withdrawal. Additionally, the Government, on both a domestic and international level, are fully engaged with preparing for Brexit. Along with our EU colleagues, our focus is on ensuring that the UK passes the Withdrawal Agreement which provides the clearest and legally unambiguous platform in which to begin talks on the future relationship, whilst, at the same time, ensuring that our most vulnerable sectors are protected from the worst impacts of Brexit. In that regard, my Department has been at the forefront of delivering, with our Enterprise Agencies, a range of measures aimed at assisting businesses navigate the economic challenges presented by Brexit with details available at www.gov.ie/Brexit.

 

Foreign Direct Investment

Questions (588)

Brendan Smith

Question:

588. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the progress to date in the identification of sites as being suitable for the location of large-scale data centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12729/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

In 2017 IDA Ireland appointed Jacobs Engineering, supported by AOS Planning, to identify potential strategic land banks in Ireland that would be particularly suitable for the sustainable development of data centre projects. The study was commissioned to understand what locations in Ireland are best suited for this particular type of investment. The evaluation process, which has been completed by Jacobs, focused on evaluating all potentially viable land options that would be compatible with the complex and evolving needs of data centre investments. As indicated previously, this study was undertaken for internal IDA Ireland purposes and is not intended for publication due to its commercial sensitivity.

It is worth reiterating that, over recent years, leading international technology and computing firms have announced several significant data centre investments for Ireland. Our goal is to ensure that this trend continues. In that context, IDA Ireland, supported by the relevant key stakeholders, will continue to highlight credible and flexible property solutions that form part of the competitive value proposition for this sector.

Regional Development Policy

Questions (589)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

589. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of the A programme for A Partnership Government commitment to prioritise balanced regional development which will aim to allow for an unemployment rate in each county that is within 1% of the State average by 2020. [12750/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The recently launched Regional Enterprise Plans to 2020, which succeed the previous Regional Action Plans for Jobs 2015-2017/8, are a central pillar of the Government’s ambition to meet the Programme for Government commitment to prioritise balanced regional development.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) does not regularly produce county-level unemployment data, apart from at each Census. The CSO publishes the Labour Force Survey (LFS) on a quarterly basis. The LFS replaced the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) from Q3 2017. It is a large-scale, nationwide survey of households in Ireland. It is designed to produce quarterly labour force estimates that include the official measure of employment and unemployment in the State.

Reflecting the Programme for Government commitment, a key objective under the Regional Enterprise Plans is to have the unemployment rate of each region reduced (and maintained) to not more than one percentage point above the State average.

The Labour Force Survey results at regional level (see Table 1) show that unemployment rates have declined significantly in all of the eight regions in the period Q1 2016 to Q4 2018. Only two regions out of the eight currently have an unemployment rate over 1 percentage point above the State average.

Table 1: 

Region*

Q1 2016

Q4 2018

Annual change Q1 2016 to Q4 2018 - % points 

Difference from State Q4 2018

% points

Border

7.4%

3.8%

-3.6%

-1.6%

Midland

13.7%

6.6%

-7.1%

1.2%

West

10.9%

5.8%

-5.1%

0.4%

Dublin

7.1%

5.0%

-2.1%

-0.4%

Mid-East

7.7%

4.9%

-2.8%

-0.5%

Mid-West

10.7%

5.6%

-5.1%

0.2%

South-East

10.7%

7.7%

-3.0%

2.3%

South-West

8.4%

5.3%

-3.1%

-0.1%

State

8.8%

5.4%

-3.4%

-

Outside Dublin

9.4%

5.4%

-4.0%

0.0%

The recently launched Regional Enterprise Plans set out a focused agenda to 2020 for each of the regions, complementing the core activities of the enterprise agencies and the LEOs, and also national level policy initiatives such as Future Jobs Ireland 2019. Several funding streams being made available such as the Regional Enterprise Development Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland and those under Project Ireland 2040 including the Urban and the Rural Regeneration and Development Funds are important elements in driving further progress on employment growth in regional and rural Ireland.

*Due to regulation changes, the ‘NUTS3’ regional groupings (used by the CSO to compose regional employment data) have changed. Under the new groupings, County Louth has moved from the Border to the Mid-East region and what was formerly South Tipperary has moved from the South-East to the Mid-West Region. CSO Labour Force Survey data has been updated to take account of these changes.