School Staff

Questions (237)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

237. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) can transfer his or her permanent status from Dublin to County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16613/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to all schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The staffing and redeployment arrangements for the 2019/20 school year are available on the Department website.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

The redeployment arrangements at primary and post-primary are the first method to fill vacancies in the school system. Once the redeployment processes have completed, schools with permanent vacancies may proceed to open competition to fill these vacancies. It is open to any teacher to apply for these vacancies as they arise.

Qualifications Recognition

Questions (238)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

238. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education and Skills whether no professional accountancy body has been recognised under the national framework since November 2012. [16636/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is the statutory body with responsibility for developing, promoting and maintaining the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ).

QQI has been unable to progress applications for the inclusion of awards made by professional accountancy bodies within the NFQ due to an issue concerning the extent of QQI's powers under the Quality Assurance and Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 2012.

This issue is being addressed by provisions which are contained in the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Bill 2018 which is currently before Seanad Éireann

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (239)

Niall Collins

Question:

239. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if matters in relation to the July provision will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16644/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Each year eligible schools, including the school to which the Deputy has referred, are invited to participate in the July Programme.

Participation in the Scheme by a school is voluntary and subject to the availability of suitably qualified personnel in July. It is therefore a matter for the Board of Management of the school, having regard to the resources available to it and taking into account the health and safety of the children, whether or not it will participate in the programme in any given year. 

Where eligible students cannot access a school-based programme, 40 hours (i.e. 10 hours for each of the four weeks) home-based tuition will be provided as an alternative to the school based scheme. Parents may come together as a group and make an application to the Department under this strand of the scheme. Full Details are available on my Departments website at https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/July-Provision/Home-Based.html.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (240)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

240. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of new school buildings for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16663/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

Following the appointment of a replacement consultant architect, the Design Team has reviewed the previous Stage 2(b) documentation and is currently upgrading the design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, my Department will revert to the Board of Management regarding the progression of the project.

Childcare Services

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 196.

Questions (241)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

241. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the action he has taken on foot of the action plan on school aged childcare. [16719/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the programme for government commitments to promote the use of school buildings outside of school hours, my Department took a number of important actions to build on and enhance the already extensive use of buildings for community use. In relation to the use of schools for the specific purpose of school age childcare, my officials participated in the interdepartmental group that produced the Action Plan on School Age childcare that was published in March 2017. Following that report, the then Minister and his officials engaged directly with the management bodies, patrons and property owners. A set of guidelines, designed to assist the owners of school buildings who wished to provide childcare services in their schools was published by my Department in October 2017. 

These guidelines can be viewed on the Department's website at this link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/guidelines-on-the-use-of-school-buildings-outside-of-school-hours.pdf. This year, the Department intends to conduct a review of the guidelines and they will be updated accordingly following the review. 

Another commitment in the report was to consider the qualification needs of those working in school age childcare as part of a wider review of qualifications for the sector. The Department is working closely with QQI and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on this matter. DES is supporting DCYA as they implement their commitments in the Action Plan in relation to developing quality standards for school age childcare, elements of which will relate to the nature and level of qualifications that may be appropriate for those providing that service. It is intended that a workforce development plan to commence in 2019 and led by DCYA in close collaboration with DES will consider this matter in further detail.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 196.

Education and Training Boards Places

Questions (243)

Mary Butler

Question:

243. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of secondary school places available in Waterford city and county for ETB schools; the number of secondary school pupils attending ETB secondary schools in Waterford city and county by school in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16763/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A list of ETB schools in Waterford City and Waterford County is provided in the following link:

Table

It shows numbers of pupils enrolled in these schools in the 2017-18 academic year.

The Capital Programme provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. In this regard, I can confirm that my Department has recently received applications for such funding from two Post Primary schools in Waterford. These applications will be assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authorities when the assessment process has been completed.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Questions (244, 245, 246)

Joe Carey

Question:

244. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress over the past 12 months on the implementation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16087/19]

View answer

Noel Grealish

Question:

245. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be implemented fully; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16176/19]

View answer

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

246. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps taken to progress the implementation of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2018 in terms of proactive planning and allocation of resources and positive and measurable changes for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16606/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 to 246, inclusive, together.

The Government’s approach to meeting the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“the Convention”) is one of sustained and on-going improvement. Work is continuing on the reforms needed for an optimum level of compliance with the convention's requirements.

The National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) 2017 – 2021 contains a wide range of practical commitments to improve the position of people with disabilities. It provides a mechanism for joined-up working to deliver on Ireland’s commitments to implementing the UNCRPD, and the NDIS Steering Group, which oversees and monitors the implementation of the Strategy, will have an important role in guiding progress in this area. The Group is committed to carrying out a mid-term review of the Strategy by the end of 2019 and in the context of this review,  it is expected that it will examine how the Strategy is aligned with the articles of the Convention and how the Strategy could be revised and built upon in order to continue progressive realisation of the aims of the Convention. The National Disability Authority (NDA) will also play a critical part in the implementation of the Convention, and will be carrying out a review of progress with respect to the Strategy’s key indicators in this regard.

The Department of Health and the HSE have responsibility for a significant number of actions under the Strategy. The HSE National Service Plan 2019, which was published earlier this year, is focussed on providing supports to people with disabilities and enabling them to maximise their full potential as independently as possible. Measures in the Service Plan will also reduce the waiting times for Assessments of Need for children through the provision of 100 additional therapist posts.

Including the additional funding I secured for use in the Service Plan, this brings the total investment in the provision of disability services to almost €1.9bn in 2019.

Article 19 of the Convention deals with living independently and being included in the community. It provides that persons with disabilities should have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services.

In the 2019 Service Plan, the HSE will provide 1.53m personal assistant hours to 2,535 people, and 3.08m home support hours for 8,094 people.

To meet obligations under Article 12, and Article 7, addressing rights for children with disabilities, additional funding of €12m has been allocated to meet the cost of providing day supports and services for approximately 1,500 young adults who will leave school in 2019. Under the plan, the HSE will move up to 160 people from large institutional settings to homes in the community. Ninety new high-acuity emergency residential places will also be funded in 2019 to address urgent unplanned cases as they arise.

Of particular relevance to Article 12 of the Convention is the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The 2015 Act will abolish the current Wards of Court system by repealing the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871. Part 6 of the 2015 Act provides that adults currently in wardship will transition to the new decision-making support arrangements provided for in the Act on a phased basis over 3 years from the commencement of Part 6 of the Act.

 New administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health), must be put in place before the substantive provisions of the 2015 Act can be commenced. The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the Act in 2020. This lead in timeframe ensures that the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place so that the Decision Support Service will have the capacity to be up and running effectively. The 2019 Revised Estimates Volume provides for an allocation of €3.5 million in the Justice and Equality Vote for the establishment of the Decision Support Service.

The Government continues to take practical measures to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The Report of the Make Work Pay Group was published in April 2017 and many of its recommendations have been implemented. In addition, the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015-2024 includes positive action measures to support the recruitment of people with disabilities in the public service and in the wider economy.

In addition to the practical measures outlined above, the Deputies will be aware of a number of legislative developments to support the implementation of the Convention.

In the first instance, my colleague the Minister for Health is progressing heads of a Bill to provide legislative clarity on the issue of deprivation of liberty. A report of a recent public consultation on these draft legislative provisions is nearing completion, and every effort is being made to progress this legislation as quickly as possible.

The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016, which contains key legislative amendments needed for compliance with the Convention, was published on December 2016. Second Stage (Dáil) took place on 31 January and 1 February 2017, and Committee Stage on 30 January 2019.

The Bill includes provisions to establish the monitoring framework required by Article 33 of the Convention to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the Convention. It requires the involvement and participation of civil society, in particular, persons with disabilities, in the monitoring process.

The monitoring framework will include both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the National Disability Authority (NDA) and will be governed by a formal Memorandum of Understanding. The IHREC Act 2014 was designed to ensure that IHREC, as Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution, fully meets the standard of independence in accordance with the Paris Principles.

The IHREC established a Disability Advisory Committee in January 2019, composed of a diverse group of persons with lived experience of disability. This will ensure the direct participation of persons with disabilities and the organisations representing them in monitoring how the Convention is implemented in Ireland. 

The IHREC is best placed to make periodic independent reports to the UN, supported by progress assessments and statistical information supplied by the NDA.

The NDA has expertise and information resources in relation to reporting on disability issues and is carrying out work in a range of areas to support implementation; including the preparation of non-healthcare Codes of Practice under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015, and review of progress with respect to the key indicators of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy.

Significant year on year budgetary increases in the disability sector have positively impacted the lived experience of people with disabilities in Ireland. However, it is recognised that daily challenges remain for many people with disabilities and their families. Addressing the needs and rights of people living with a disability and their families is a priority for this Government and my primary focus as Minister of State for Disability Issues. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities supports that priority in providing a comprehensive and robust framework for the realisation of those rights.

Banking Sector

Questions (247, 286)

Michael McGrath

Question:

247. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of ATM thefts involving the removal of the ATM machine from a bank for each year since 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16338/19]

View answer

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

286. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will convene an emergency meeting with officials in Northern Ireland to identify a cross-Border response to the increase in ATM robberies in the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16743/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 286 together.

I share the Deputies' concern about the recent ATM robberies, on both sides of the Border. These are crimes that have a significant impact on both businesses and communities and I condemn the criminals behind them in the strongest terms.

The Deputies will be aware that there is already strong ongoing co-operation between the Gardaí and the PSNI, and both An Garda Síochána and the PSNI are conducting investigations into these robberies. I am confident that those responsible will be identified.

The Garda authorities have confirmed that there have been three incidents of ATM robberies in this State, most recently the ATM robberies in Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan in April; Kingscourt, Co. Cavan in March; and one in Ballybay, Co. Monaghan in December 2018. There were no recorded incidents between 2012 and 2017, however there was an attempted robbery in Co. Wicklow in May 2011 and in Co. Carlow in 2010.

I can assure the Deputies that Gardaí continue to monitor all new and emerging crime trends in the State to ensure all resources are allocated in an effective manner and that the best possible police service is provided to the public.

I can also advise the Deputies that there are a number of avenues through which An Garda Síochána work with the PSNI to combat organised crime and other cross-Border issues. There is a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy operated between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, which covers a range of policing activities and contains a series of initiatives in which both police services are actively engaged.

Furthermore, the Joint Agency Task Force established under the Fresh Start Agreement engages An Garda Síochána and the PSNI in a lead role (with other agencies) in structured strategic and operational co-operation in combatting cross-Border organised crime, while the Cross-Border Seminar on Organised Crime is an annual event. It is organised jointly by the two Justice Departments and the two police services and it focuses on co-operation and best practice in countering organised crime that seeks to exploit the Border.

Ensuring that this type of co-operation can continue into the future is a key priority for me and my Department, in any Brexit outcome.

Legislative Measures

Questions (248)

Clare Daly

Question:

248. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress of the inspection of places of detention Bill. [16097/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Inspection of Places of Detention Bill is the vehicle which the Government will use to implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

As I indicated in my response to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 102 of 4 April (last week) in relation to OPCAT, my Department are in the process of completing a draft scheme of this Bill which I intend to share with key stakeholders for their observations before it is finalised and I bring it to Government for approval later this year.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (249)

Alan Kelly

Question:

249. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 285 of 18 December 2018 and 244 of 26 January 2019, if the application will be finalised for the naturalisation ceremony due to take place at the end of April 2019 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16149/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that 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.

Immigration Status

Questions (250)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

250. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for a new student scheme by a person (details supplied); when the application is likely to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that it received an application for permission to reside in this State on 8 November 2018. The Deputy will appreciate that applications are dealt with in chronological order and I understand that a decision will issue by the end of April.

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. 

Visa Applications

Questions (251)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

251. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if appeals in respect of refusal of visa applications have been received in the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16224/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to his Parliamentary Question No. 433 of 15 January, 2019 when I advised that the applications referred to were refused on appeal and the decisions communicated to the applicants on 8 January, 2019.

As an applicant is entitled to one appeal only, no further review of these applications can be undertaken. It is, however, open to the applicants to make fresh applications at any time. They should bear in mind the reasons for refusal and be in a position to 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. 

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Investigations

Questions (252, 253)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

252. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he has taken to set up a public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied) as per the vote of Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16238/19]

View answer

Niamh Smyth

Question:

253. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the length of time GSOC has taken to investigate complaints in relation to the investigation into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16239/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 253 together.

Following the Dáil motion last summer, I gave consideration to how I and the Government could best give effect to the motion of the House that a public inquiry be set up into the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell, at the same time, respecting the fact that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, was at that stage still investigating certain matters arising from the fatal road traffic incident. I also sought the advice of the Attorney General on how best to proceed in the circumstances.

I should mention that earlier this year the Seanad passed a motion in the same terms as those of the Dáil motion.

At the end of January, I was notified by GSOC that their investigation relating to possible breaches of Garda disciplinary regulations had concluded. The report and recommendations of that GSOC investigation were sent to the Garda Commissioner. The family were also informed by GSOC of the completion of the investigation. The outcome of the investigation was a recommendation that a number of Garda officers should be subject of a disciplinary process. That is now a matter entirely for the Garda Commissioner and I do not propose to comment further on the matter.

In any event, following the completion of the GSOC process and having informed the Government of the approach I proposed to take, I appointed recently retired District Court Judge Gerard Haughton, to conduct a scoping exercise and to advise me in relation to the case.

I met with members of the family to inform them of the decision. I subsequently provided them with a copy of the terms of reference for Judge Haughton's scoping exercise and invited them to give their views on those terms of reference to Judge Haughton. 

Judge Haughton has met with the family to discuss the terms of reference and to seek their input into any amendments which might be required. In light of his engagement with the family, Judge Haughton will report back to me with any proposals to amend the terms of reference. Once the terms have been settled and he has commenced his scoping exercise, he is required to provide an interim report to me within 8 weeks indicating, inter alia, the expected timeframe for completion of the scoping exercise.

As it stands, Judge Haughton is free to make any recommendation he sees fit, including the freedom to recommend the establishment of any of the various forms of statutory and non-statutory inquiry. If he recommends an inquiry, of whatever type, I have asked him to provide me with draft terms of reference. 

As for the time it took GSOC to investigate complaints, that is a matter entirely for GSOC. I'm sure the Deputy will appreciate, that the volume and nature of complaints received by the Commission in relation to this incident required a thorough investigation in order that the outcome would be seen to be fair and reasonable. I know that it can be frustrating that investigations are not completed as quickly as people would like.  However, our overriding concern must be that investigations are comprehensive and conducted to the highest standards. 

It is the case that GSOC had been seeking further staffing resources to handle the volume of complaints received. I'm pleased that late last year GSOC received sanction for all the additional personnel resources it had sought. I am confident that this will result in the timeframe for investigations improving going forward.

Garda Resources

Questions (254)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

254. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the budget allocation for the maintenance and upgrade of the Garda CCTV system in each of the years 2017 to 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16241/19]

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, including a budgetary allocation of €1.76 billion to An Garda Síochána for 2019. Significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána in terms of the Garda Fleet, ICT infrastructure and the estate.  

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. Accordingly, decisions in relation to the introduction or extension of Garda CCTV systems are a matter for the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no role in that regard.

The Deputy will be aware that CCTV systems installed for the purposes of crime prevention and as aids to policing in areas to which the general public routinely have access fall into two distinct but complementary categories, namely Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems. Neither type of CCTV system may be established without authorisation by the Garda Commissioner under section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, among other requirements.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the budget allocation for Garda CCTV systems for the years requested by the Deputy are as follows:

Year

Budget Allocation

2019

€2,354,000

2018

€2,354,000

2017

€2,354,000