Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Questions (255)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

255. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda CCTV cameras attached to each Garda CCTV camera location; if all of these CCTV cameras are fully operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16245/19]

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. As Minister, I have no role in that regard.

I have requested the specific information sought by the Deputy from the Commissioner. I will write to the Deputy directly on receipt of same.

Immigration Status

Questions (256)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

256. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and-or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16257/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that it would appear the person's presence in the State may be unlawful.  The Deputy will appreciate that, under the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2004, a non-national may not be in the State other than within the terms of a permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality. 

In order to allow for a full examination of the person's circumstances, the person concerned should write to Unit 2, Domestic Residence and Permissions Division, INIS, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 and provide a detailed account and documentary evidence of their personal circumstances since they entered the State. 

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 (257)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

257. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a citizenship application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16266/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy is due to be invited to attend the next citizenship ceremony which will take place on 29 April 2019 in The Killarney Convention Centre, Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry, and to receive his certificate of naturalisation there. That invitation is due to issue in the coming week.

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 (258)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

258. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time applications for citizenship are taking to process; if there are delays in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16267/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that 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.   

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 as well as international level.  It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally.

In general, it takes around 6 months for a standard application to be processed from the date it is received to the date a decision is made. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases can take longer than others to process.

Processing timescales can be impacted due to incomplete applications having to be returned, further documentation being required from the applicant, or where payment of the required certificate fee is awaited, or the applicant has not been engaging with INIS.  In certain instances delays can arise at the final stage of the naturalisation process, for example, where additional information comes to light which requires to be considered.  In other instances the applicant themselves may request that a hold be put on their application.

This is a complex application process which requires a considerable level of detailed supporting documentation and sometimes the input of several government agencies, both within and without this jurisdiction. The request and receipt of information from these sources can result in delays in processing some applications.

 The INIS Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 commits the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department to significant investment in technological developments including the roll-out of online forms and payments for citizenship applications.  Such developments are expected to deliver significant improvements to customer experiences and processing timescales. 

The final stage of a naturalisation application requires the applicant to attend at a citizenship ceremony.  Citizenship ceremony days take place periodically throughout the year, at which up to 3,000 candidates for citizenship make their declaration of fidelity to the Irish nation and loyalty to the State, give an undertaking to uphold the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values and receive their certificate of naturalisation. The date a decision is made on an application in relation to when the next available ceremony is due to take place can also impact on the length of time between the submission of the application and the applicant becoming an Irish citizen.

INIS devotes considerable resources to the processing of these applications. It also operates a dedicated phone helpline and email helpdesk available for all applicants interested in the progress of their application, details of which are available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie.

Road Traffic Offences

Questions (259, 260, 262)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

259. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vehicles seized from unaccompanied drivers in each month by county since the commencement of the Clancy amendment in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16299/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

260. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vehicles seized from unaccompanied drivers in each month by Garda division since 22 December 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16300/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

262. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Garda PULSE system has been updated to allow gardaí to report on vehicles seized from unaccompanied drivers; if not, when this change will be added to PULSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16302/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 259, 260 and 262 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department is not responsible for the administration of the PULSE system, or the recording of road traffic enforcement statistics; which are matters for An Garda Síochána. However, to be of assistance, I have asked An Garda Síochána for a report in relation the the questions raised.

I will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a Garda response.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 259.

Questions (261)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

261. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vehicles detained under section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the reason for detainment in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16301/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department is not responsible for road traffic enforcement, which is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. However, to be of assistance, I have asked An Garda Síochána for the requested statistics.

I will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a Garda response.

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 259.

Garda Resources

Questions (263)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

263. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of times per year that the Garda PULSE system is shut down for updates; the improvements planned in this regard; his views in regard to the recording of road safety-related data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16303/19]

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, including a budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for of €1.76 billion for 2019.  Significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €342 million being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies.  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 role in these matters.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that PULSE downtime for scheduled system upgrades typically occurs twice a year, and is completed within the course of the scheduled day.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that when scheduled downtime for a PULSE release occurs, members of An Garda Síochána are notified and informed when and how long the PULSE release will take.  Where an incident occurs during the PULSE release update, Garda members will record it on Pulse after the release has been deployed.

In relation to the recording of road safety data, the Deputy will be aware that the C(T)68 form is an internal collision report that is generated as a result of information contained on the Garda PULSE system. The report serves An Garda Síochána for operational purposes and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) for statistical purposes. The RSA has a statutory remit to collect, compile and publish information obtained from the C(T)68 form for national or international planning, policy research and development, monitoring and reporting purposes. The operation and administration of form C(T)68 is reviewed on an ongoing basis by An Garda Síochána.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to be aware that An Garda Síochána is currently developing a new Digital Strategy, taking account of the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and that the future of the PULSE system will be one of the elements addressed in this strategy.

Parental Leave

Questions (264)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

264. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the two extra weeks parental leave for parents in the first year of a child's life announced in budget 2019; when the legislation to enact this measure will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16341/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that as part of Budget 2019,  the Government announced the introduction of a new social insurance-based paid parental benefit scheme.  This new scheme will support parents during the first year of the child's life by providing two weeks of paid leave to both parents, and will allow parents more flexibility in achieving and managing a work life balance.

It is envisaged that the scheme will commence in late 2019 and will be available to parents in respect all children born on or after the date of its implementation.

The conditions of eligibility for the scheme will be provided for in legislation which is currently being developed by my Department, in cooperation with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

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.

Garda Civilian Staff

Questions (265)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

265. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which crime scene investigator posts within An Garda Síochána are being filled by civilians; his views on whether such civilianisation is appropriate in view of the legal powers required and nature of the work involved as a crime scene investigator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16345/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána including where Gardaí are deployed.

The 2014 Garda Inspectorate Report on Crime Investigation notes, in relation to forensic Crime Scene Examiners (CSEs),that in most other police services the function of crime scene examination is carried out by non-sworn police support staff.  The Garda Inspectorate’s 2015 report 'Changing Policing in Ireland' further highlighted  the role of civilian support staff in providing forensic and scenes of crime support to sworn police officers in other countries such as the United States and in United Kingdom police services, including the PSNI. The report recommended that the forensic functions of the Garda Technical Bureau be divested to Forensic Science Ireland. This recommendation was accepted by Government and responsibility for the forensic services is now being transferred to Forensic Science Ireland, where a mix of civilian scientists and experienced Garda members will provide such services. The scenes of crime services will also progress towards civilianisation, with care being taken to ensure at all times that the personnel involved have the experience and qualifications required to provide a service to the best international standards.

The Government supports the Garda Commissioner in his proposals to redeploy Garda Members to front line duties.  This approach is very much in line with the Report of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland which was approved by Government in December.   Civilianisation of roles and redeployment are among the key projects  being progressed in 2019 in the Implementation Plan which I published in December - A Policing Service for the Future - and I am confident the full realisation of these projects will deliver a better policing service to the public.

Visa Applications

Questions (266)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

266. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16392/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that visa appeals were received in the Visa Office in Dublin on 26 February, 2019.

Appeals are processed in the chronological order in which they are received.  While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to  the volume of appeals received, the resources available to process them and the complexity of the application and subsequent appeal.  Processing times may also vary where a detailed assessment of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights is required.  In the circumstances, therefore, I cannot at this time give a definitive date as to when these particular appeals will be finalised.

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

Legislative Programme

Questions (267)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

267. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to introduce the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill. [16399/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 was initiated and published yesterday, 8 April, 2019. The Bill is available from Government Publications and on the Oireachtas website at the following link: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2019/30/. A date to is currently awaited for Dáil second stage.  

Legislative Programme

Questions (268)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

268. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to introduce the redress for women resident in certain institutions (amendment) Bill. [16400/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that this Bill is a priority for me and the Government.  The Redress for Women in Certain Institutions (Amendment) Bill is listed as a priority for publication in the Government legislative programme for the summer session.

International Time Zones

Questions (269)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

269. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to move Ireland to permanent summer time in 2021; the consultations which may take place nationally on this matter and with the UK to ensure a common time zone on the islands of Ireland and Great Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16425/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Following an EU wide consultation last year, the EU Commission published a proposal to abolish the twice-yearly clock change.  Member States are being asked if they are in favour of ending the seasonal clock changes and whether they wish to stay on "summer" or "winter" time.  Under the current version of the proposal, the practice of a twice-yearly clock change would cease from 2021. 

Discussions with Members States on the proposal are on-going via the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council.  Ireland is one of a large number of Member States which has said that more time is needed to consider the proposal, and in order that Member States can allow for coordination with neighbouring countries. 

In this regard, my Department ran a public consultation process on the proposal to end seasonal clock changes.  A report on the consultation exercise is being prepared and will be considered by an Interdepartmental Steering Group which my Department chairs.  I intend to present the Group's report to Government shortly.  Following on from this, more details of the consultation exercise and its outcome will be published on the Department's website. 

My Department is in contact with UK officials in respect of the impacts of this proposal.  Ireland's position at all times has been that any measure which resulted in differing time zones between Ireland and the UK would present particular challenges for the island of Ireland.  The  position adopted by Ireland on the proposal will be informed by this important consideration. 

Crime Prevention

Questions (270)

James Browne

Question:

270. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the grants available for neighbourhood watch groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16448/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department does not provide direct funding towards the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

However, at the National Ploughing Championships last September, I announced details of the 2018 Text Alert Rebate Scheme, which was available to over 1,000 local groups registered under the Garda Text Alert Scheme, including many Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch Groups.  My Department committed in the region of €150,000 to local communities who wish to apply for a rebate towards the costs associated with running their local Text Alert Scheme, which is administered by Muintir na Tíre. This is a continuation of the annual funding made available by my Department for the Text Alert Rebate scheme in 2016 (€100,000) and 2017 (€150,000).

More generally, I can advise the Deputy that my Department has for many years provided funding to Muintir Na Tíre for the employment and associated costs of the national Community Alert Programme, including the employment of regional Development Officers. These Development Officers, operating in Muintir Na Tíre, provide support to Community and Text Alert schemes and offer advice on how to establish new schemes.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration

Questions (271)

John Lahart

Question:

271. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the online booking system for appointments at the INIS Burgh Quay immigration office, Dublin 2; if his attention has been drawn to the waiting lists and extreme difficulty the public faces when attempting to book an emergency appointment online for the office; his plans to overhaul the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16500/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As outlined in responses to previous parliamentary questions, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department became aware in September 2018 of customers  experiencing difficulties booking registration appointments.  Some of these difficulties had arisen because third party agents had been able to secure multiple appointments through the use of automatic software.

A set of software fixes was introduced in mid-September 2018 to prevent this abuse of the system.  As far as can be determined, this software update has been successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents.  The system is being regularly monitored in this regard.

I am advised that INIS is currently developing a replacement online appointments system which will be operational later this year, and which is being designed to continue to prevent the block-booking of appointments. 

INIS is also aware that some third party agents continue to book individual appointments with information supplied to them by customers. INIS strongly advises our customers not to provide sensitive personal data to these unregulated agents. 

I understand from INIS that there is high demand for registrations, and INIS has been given additional resources to meet this demand.  INIS issued 25,431 registrations in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of 37% on the first quarter in 2018.

As part of the INIS Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020, a number of other options are also being considered with a view to improving customer service and efficiency as well as meeting the growing demand for registration in Ireland.

Waste Disposal

Questions (272)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

272. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of fines for breaches of the Waste Management Act 1996 issued to persons for the use of non-registered waste disposal services in each of the years 2016 to 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16540/19]

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 inquiries made and I can indicate that, following the provision of additional information by the Deputy, the Courts Service is further examining the matter and will contact the Deputy directly.