Naturalisation Applications

Questions (449)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

449. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18590/19]

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 is ongoing. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. Should further documentation be required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union level, and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

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

Ministerial Appointments

Question No. 451 answered with Question No. 433.

Questions (450)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

450. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) will be appointed to a role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18593/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that I have recently appointed the person (details supplied) to the Office of Peace Commissioner. The appointment is from 25 April, 2019 and the Warrant of Appointment has been forwarded by my officials.

Question No. 451 answered with Question No. 433.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (452)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

452. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications for citizenship by naturalisation processed within six months from the date received to the date a decision is made for each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18611/19]

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. These procedures are continually evolving arising from, for example, service improvements due to the introduction of new technology and updated work practices.

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.

Specifically, the average processing time from the date an application was received on to the date a decision was made was 6.7 months in 2016, 7.2 months in 2017 and 6.5 months in 2018. Additional security checks can result in some applications taking longer than this average timescale. Such checks are fundamental to maintaining the legitimacy of the naturalisation process both nationally and internationally.

In addition, 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 the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department. Sometimes the input of several government agencies, both within and without this jurisdiction is needed and the request and receipt of information from these sources can result in delays in processing some applications. Delays can also 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 their application is put on hold.

The INIS Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 commits the INIS 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 process, after the decision making process, requires the applicant to attend at a citizenship ceremony. Obviously, the applicant does not become an Irish citizen until they attend the ceremony to 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.

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 www.inis.gov.ie.

EU Directives

Questions (453)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

453. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if Ireland has fully transposed the EU Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA; if not, the provisions of this legislation yet to be transposed; when it is planned to do same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18617/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime was fully transposed into Irish national law by the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017. The Bill completed passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas on 26 October 2017 and was signed into law by the President on 5 November 2017. The majority of provisions were commenced in November 2017 and the remaining provisions were commenced by 30 May 2018.

My Department received a reasoned opinion from the European Commission on 8 November 2018 concerning the notification of measures for the transposal into national law of Directive 2012/29/EU. A detailed response, addressing the various points raised in the reasoned opinion and confirming the position that full transposition had taken place, issued to the European Commission on 7 January 2019.

Criminal Records Data

Questions (454)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

454. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if Ireland has fully transposed the Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA of 26 February 2009 on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record between member states; if not, the reason therefor; when it is planned to do same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA establishes the European Criminal Records Information System which An Garda Síochána is operating on an administrative basis. It has not been possible to transpose this Decision into law earlier, due to pressure of other legislative commitments, both domestic and at EU level. My Department is currently liaising with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and the Office of the Attorney General to finalise draft legislation to transpose this Decision, and this is a priority for publication this term.

Garda Vetting

Questions (455)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

455. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the rationale for repeat vetting the same person in different organisations; if vetting could be transferable; and his plans to streamline this requirement in order that the same person does not have to undergo the Garda vetting processes numerous times in order to work legally across a number of bodies. [18621/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. It is carried out by An Garda Síochána primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016 and is, as I am sure you will agree, a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly. My Department has no role in the processing of individual vetting applications.

Regarding sharing of vetting between organisations, vetting checks are conducted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau for each new vetting application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. This is because once there has been any significant lapse of time between one employment and another, the original vetting disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.

In addition, the Data Protection Acts require that any sensitive personal data which employers use in regard to their employees must be current, accurate and up-to-date. Importantly, the general non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the current process also helps to protect against the risk of fraud or forgery in the process.

However, the Act provides for the sharing of vetting disclosures in certain circumstances by registered organisations; a facility which is of assistance in the health and education sectors, for example, in reducing the need for multiple vetting applications. Section 12(3A) of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that two or more relevant organisations can enter into a joint written agreement in relation to the employment, contracting, permitting or placement of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, thereby providing for only one of the organisations being required to conduct vetting in respect of that person.

In general, the vetting process is working well and I understand that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda vetting at present. This efficiency has been achieved by the deployment of the e-vetting system which facilitates the on-line processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the e-vetting system is 5 working days for over 85% of applications received. Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online. Furthermore, in circumstances where there is such a sustained reduction in processing times, the issue of vetting “transferability” is largely obviated.

Garda Operations

Questions (456)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

456. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners that have been questioned and charged by An Garda Síochána for possession of contraband within the prison estate throughout 2018 and the first quarter of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18628/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on this matter and I will contact the Deputy directly when the report is to hand.

Garda Operations

Questions (457)

David Cullinane

Question:

457. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons that have been arrested for fraud in connection with medical certificates to cover for days a person was absent from work in each of the years 2000 to 2018, inclusive, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18662/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on this matter and I will contact the Deputy directly when the report is to hand.

Motor Insurance Fraud

Questions (458)

Carol Nolan

Question:

458. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures he has put in place to reduce the number of fraudulent motor insurance claims here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18716/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established by the Minister for Finance in July 2016.

The CIWG's Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017 and insurance fraud is one of the key themes of the report. Among the recommendations contained in the report is a proposal to establish an insurance fraud database for industry to identify patterns of fraud (Recommendation 25). Enhancing cooperation between the insurance industry and An Garda Síochána was also recommended (Recommendation 26).

The Insurance Fraud Database Working Group, chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality, met most recently in March to further discuss the establishment of the proposed database, following consideration of data protection issues over the past year. Further consultations with the ODPC is also envisaged in view of the nature of this recommendation.

Separately, recommendation 26 of the CIWG seeks to explore the potential for improving cooperation between the insurance sector and An Garda Síochána.

The Commissioner has undertaken to consider how insurance fraud investigation can be further developed within the force. The Commissioner is of the view that a divisional focus is preferable as opposed to the establishment of a centralised investigation unit. It is the intention of the Commissioner to put in place a coordinator within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) to guide divisions in the investigation of insurance fraud.

While the Commissioner has already publicly signalled his opposition to an industry-funded investigative unit, An Garda Síochána is open to considering other industry-funded proposals to combat insurance fraud, for example, IT projects and/or the appointment of analysts. The Department is currently engaging with An Garda Síochána to this end, and has requested that they reflect on these proposals and any other potential avenues for cooperation with the insurance sector, with a view to considering any proposals at the next meeting of the CIWG.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate AGS on its recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality. The GNECB, supported by Lucan Garda Station, CAB and the Armed Support Units, carried out searches in the west Dublin area in April 2019, with a view to submitting files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Deputy may also be interested to note that the Department of Finance issues regular quarterly updates on its website in relation to the implementation of the recommendations arising from the cost of insurance review, the latest (eighth) of which was published in March 2019.

Motor Insurance Fraud

Questions (459, 460)

Carol Nolan

Question:

459. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of fraudulent motor insurance claims made in counties Laois and Offaly in 2017 and 2018. [18717/19]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

460. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of fraudulent insurance claims made against businesses in counties Laois and Offaly in 2017 and 2018. [18718/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 459 and 460 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that crime incidents are not recorded by the Department, as this is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

However, to be of assistance I have been in contact with the Garda Authorities to ascertain whether such statistics are available. I will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a response.

Insurance Fraud

Questions (461)

Carol Nolan

Question:

461. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans regarding the review and reform of regulations and laws in respect of fraudulent personal injury claims in the workplace to help protect businesses from fraudulent claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18719/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The need to tackle insurance fraud and its costly impact on enterprise and business, in both employer liability and public liability terms, goes to the core of the Government’s on-going drive to reduce the burden on our economy of insurance costs. As the Deputy will be aware, the focal point of this reform is the Cost of Insurance Working Group which was established by the Government in July 2016 and is chaired by Minister of State, Michael D'Arcy TD. The objective of the Working Group has been to identify and examine the drivers of the cost of insurance, and recommend short, medium and longer term measures to address the issue of increasing insurance costs. It brings together all relevant Offices and Departments, has conducted extensive consultations with stakeholders and set-up a dedicated Fraud Roundtable to give more detailed consideration to that particular issue.

The Working Group published its Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance in January 2017 and its Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in January 2018. In its conclusions, the Working Group was of the view that appropriate use of the legislative provisions contained in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 could be facilitated by encouraging industry to more actively pursue complaints with An Garda Síochána where they believe fraud to have featured in claims. The Group also believed that more could be done to establish stronger working links between the relevant stakeholders to allow for the fraudulent claims to be investigated, and where appropriate, prosecuted. I can confirm that my own Department has taken follow-up action in respect of 17 of the recommendations arising from the Working Group's reports, a number of which also involve An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service in their on-going delivery. As a result of this work, a range of direct measures are being taken by the Government to address insurance fraud in a more effective way, including under the anti-fraud provisions of the 2014 Act.

New Guidelines for the Reporting of Allegations of Fraudulent Insurance Claims to An Garda Síochána, were published on 1 October 2018 to make it clear what insurance companies should do in response to suspected fraud in a personal injuries claim. A new insurance claim fraud category on the Garda PULSE system went live on 2 November 2018, which enables the production of better statistics. The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and Insurance Ireland’s Anti-Fraud Forum now meet on a regular basis to discuss and act upon the issues concerned. The Insurance Fraud Database Working Group, which is chaired by my Department, is continuing its work with Insurance Ireland and the Garda authorities to establish an integrated insurance fraud database, which can identify patterns of such fraud.

In relation to insurance fraud investigation, while the Garda Commissioner has indicated his preference that, in principle, An Garda Síochána should not be funded by any source other than the Exchequer, he is of the view that a divisional focus is preferable, insofar as the investigation of insurance fraud is concerned, as opposed to the establishment of a centralised investigation unit. This approach is aligned with the general divisional-focused Garda model going forward. These are matters on which my Department is in on-going engagement with An Garda Síochána and on which any relevant proposals will be given appropriate consideration by the Cost of Insurance Working Group.

As part of its findings, the Personal Injuries Commission recommended that the future Judicial Council be assigned the function, under its statute, of compiling guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury, and that pending introduction of such legislation, the judiciary participate with representatives of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and my Department in the formulation of guidelines as to quantum in the case of claims for damages for soft tissue/whiplash injuries. These are matters on which I am in on-going discussion with the Chief Justice and the Attorney General while I will also be bringing forward appropriate amendments to the Judicial Council Bill, which has just completed Committee Stage in the Seanad.

The Law Reform Commission is conducting a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries. This now forms part of the Commission’s Fifth Programme of Law Reform approved by the Government on 20 March 2019. In its Final Report of July 2018, the Personal Injuries Commission, chaired by the former President of the High Court, Mr. Nicholas Kearns, noted this development deeming the Commission the appropriate body best equipped and resourced to do this.

The Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 was commenced by Minister Paschal Donohoe on 28 January 2019. This legislation will provide a better understanding of those factors that influence the cost of insurance. The new Personal Injuries Assessment (Amendment) Act 2019 was commenced by Minister Heather Humphreys on 3rd April 2019 thereby reinforcing the role of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

In conjunction with my own Department, an amendment has been made to section 8 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to ensure defendants are notified of a claim having been lodged against their policy. This is now to be done within one month instead of the two-month period which previously applied by way of alignment with data protection legislation for the retention by businesses and employers of relevant CCTV footage. The court will draw inferences from a failure by a plaintiff to notify and can reflect this in the non-payment or reduction of an offending plaintiff’s costs. Similarly, an amendment has been made to section 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 which deals with the matter of a verifying affidavit in a personal injuries action. The amendment provides that where there is a failure to lodge an affidavit by the set deadline, the court shall draw inferences and can reflect this in the non-payment or reduction of an offending plaintiff’s costs.

It is increasingly evident, including as a result of the actions of the Cost of Insurance Working Group that I have outlined, that insurers are now making greater efforts under existing law to crack down on suspected fraudulent claims. There has also been a number of recent high-profile court judgements under which the legal consequences and sanctions arising from insurance fraud have been left in no doubt. We now have a series of mutually reinforcing measures in play that are intended, in their collective implementation, to give greater effect to the law and to the regulation of this area. We have to achieve this in a way that can better serve bona fide insurance consumers and legitimate claimants while deterring and penalising fraudsters. I would also continue to strongly encourage the insurance sector in taking a more determined approach to providing cover at affordable cost for those areas of enterprise, leisure and community activity that are experiencing difficulties in this regard at the present time.

Garda Investigations

Questions (462)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

462. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of unsolved murder and manslaughter cases here in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18736/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have a sought a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the information sought by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly when the information is to hand.

Policing Issues

Questions (463)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

463. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the proposal by the Commission on the Future of Policing for a severance and-or redundancy programme to support policing reform in An Garda Síochána has been finalised; if so, the details of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18746/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, on 18 December 2018 the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and accepted all 157 key recommendations contained within the report. On 18 December 2018 I also published a four year high level plan, ‘ A Policing Service for the Future’, which sets out the approach to implementation which will be overseen by a dedicated Programme Office in the Department of the Taoiseach, as recommended in the Commission’s report.

Among the recommendations is a proposal for the development of a highly targeted once-off severance option for deployment by management in An Garda Síochána. As set out in the implementation plan, this matter is currently under consideration by the Garda Commissioner in conjunction with my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Once this has been finalised I will return to Government with a proposal for a limited severance programme to support policing reform in An Garda Síochána.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (464)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

464. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has engaged or consulted with the Garda Commissioner in respect of broadening and or abolishing the upper age limit on persons wishing to make an application to become a full-time serving trainee Garda (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18759/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013 which provide that the age at which a person may apply to join An Garda Síochána as a full time member is not more than 35 years.

On 18 December 2018, the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) and agreed to accept all of its 157 key recommendations, including those related to Garda workforce planning and modernisation. One of the key issues highlighted in the report was that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society and should therefore develop recruitment strategies to achieve a more diverse intake. In this regard, it recommended that age limits for recruitment should be removed.

I can inform the Deputy that the question of the appropriate age for recruitment to An Garda Síochána will be considered as part of my Department's review of entry to An Garda Síochána.

Garda Deployment

Questions (465)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

465. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has engaged or consulted with the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI in respect of developing a transfer of police officer staffing at all ranks allowing for officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18762/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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.

An Garda Síochána has reciprocal arrangements with the PSNI for certain senior appointments. The Garda Inspectorate review on entry routes to the Garda Síochána, published in July 2018, recommends the extension of reciprocal arrangements to allow access to the sergeant and inspector promotion processes in both jurisdictions (An Garda Síochána and PSNI). The Commission on the future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) report concurred with this.

Work is ongoing on this and is part of a wider review of entry routes to An Garda Síochána. It will be addressed as part of the implementation of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which is a four year reform programme.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Questions (466, 549)

Seán Fleming

Question:

466. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timelines operated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal to deal with cases; the date on which the next case available to be taken up by a tribunal member for consideration was placed in line for such consideration; the date on which that specific application was first submitted to the tribunal; if an example of basic timelines in respect of the cases with the tribunal regarding an aged analysis on a yearly basis in respect of the outstanding cases when they were first submitted to the tribunal will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18772/19]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

549. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal received each year in each of the past five years; the number of these cases completed in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20032/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 466 and 549 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted (General Scheme). Under the Terms of the Scheme the Tribunal Members are entirely independent in the matter of examining and determining on individuals applications for compensation.

The information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of applications received by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal in the past five years is provided in the following table.

Year

Applications Received

Applications Closed

General Scheme

Prison Officer Scheme

General Scheme

Prison Officer Scheme

2014

330

76

75

3

2015

290

75

192

56

2016

297

89

172

78

2017

294

107

87

38

2018

261

87

33

15

Tribunal Members, who are practising solicitors and barristers in the Courts system, provide their services on a part time basis. When processing applications Tribunal Members must be satisfied that all supporting documentation has been provided to enable them reach a decision on the application and it may be the case that they will seek further documentation to inform their decision. The time taken to process an application can vary widely from case to case and in some circumstances, owing to the nature of the injury to the victim, it can be some considerable time before all required documentation is available to the Member to enable him/her make their decision.

Therefore, it is not possible to provide definitive or set timelines operated by the Tribunal. However, I have been informed by the Tribunal that eleven general scheme decisions have been arrived at by the Tribunal to date in 2019 and a twelfth decision will be issued by the Tribunal Secretary shortly. These relate to applications received in date ranges from January 2009 to December 2016. In addition there are currently seven further general scheme cases assigned to Tribunal members for decision.

The Deputy should be aware that cases are sent to Tribunal Members for decision in chronological order of readiness from the date that the file is considered to be in order. Before a file is sent to a Tribunal Member for consideration, the Secretary to the Tribunal examines the file to ensure that all the documentation is in order. If s/he considers that there are issues that the Member dealing with the case might likely query or that some of the information may be out of the date, the Tribunal may contact the Applicant or their legal representative to request updates on reports e.g. medical, dental, actuarial (e.g. re care, loss of income, future out of pocket expenses, etc.). As soon as the queries raised have been dealt with, the Tribunal will send the file concerned to a Member at the next available opportunity.

An assessment of the caseload of the Tribunal is currently underway and I have been informed that it is expected that this will be finalised shortly. I will provide the Deputy with a further update at that point.

Genetic Data

Questions (467)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

467. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the legislative and regulatory framework governing the collection, storage and use of genetic data; his plans to upgrade the law in this area; the measures underway at European level in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18794/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that genetic data, as defined in Article 4(13) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are personal data for the purposes of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. Moreover, under Article 9 of the GDPR and section 69 of the 2018 Act, genetic data are classified as a special category of personal data and the processing of such data is subject to enhanced protection standards.

Article 9(4) of the GDPR also provides that Member States may maintain or introduce further conditions, including limitations, with regard to the processing of inter alia genetic data. In this context, section 42(2) of the Disability Act 2005, as amended by the Data Protection Act 2018, prohibits the processing of genetic data in relation to the following:

- employment of a person,

- a policy of insurance or life assurance,

- a policy of health insurance or health-related insurance,

- an occupational pension, a retirement annuity contract or any other pension arrangement, or

- the mortgaging of property.

Ministerial Invitations

Questions (468)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

468. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he or his officials or political staff were recipients of tickets and or hospitality from an organisation (details supplied) during the term of office of a person; the details of each occasion tickets and or hospitality was provided by the organisation during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18795/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The following table details the invitations accepted by me and my predecessor from the organisation mentioned by the Deputy since the formation of this Government in 2016. While these items remain in my diary, I was unable to attend a number of matches due to Government business.

Date

Event

No. of Tickets

15/11/2018

International Friendly – Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland

2

12/10/2018

International Friendly – Republic of Ireland v Denmark

2

01/08/2018

International Champions Cup

2

06/10/2017

World Cup Qualifier – Republic of Ireland v Moldova

3

05/09/2017

World Cup Qualifier – Republic of Ireland v Serbia

2

28/03/2017

International Friendly – Republic of Ireland v Iceland

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald accepted 4 tickets

Departmental Funding

Questions (469, 470)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

469. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of projects supported by his Department in County Galway in each of the past five years; the value and status of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18796/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

470. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of projects that were refused funding by his Department in County Galway in each of the past five years; the reason for the refusal; the status of each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18797/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 469 and 470 together.

In response to the Deputy's questions, please see the following table.

In respect of refused projects my Department does not maintain, in any readily accessible format, the information sought by the Deputy.  Similarly my Department does not maintain information in relation to a county-by-county breakdown of funding provided for those years beyond the scope of the enclosed response.  To collate either of these categories of information would involve a disproportionate commitment of resources.

Beneficiary

Description of Project

2016

2017

2018

2019 to date

Galway/Roscommon Education and Training Board

For the operation of the Special Initiative for Travellers – an employment initiative, funding to GRETB is allocated and reports are not given on a county by county breakdown.

€41,218.05

€45,383.00

€48,373.00

€48,373.00 allocated for but none drawn down to date

Galway Traveller Movement – Payment made through Traveller Partnership

Funding is provided to this community development organisation to fund a number of posts.

€97,286.85

€107,015.53

€142,717.08

Allocated €142,717.08

– €35,679.27 drawn down to date

Galway County Council

(Source of funding EU Asylum Migration and Integration Fund)

To support the resettlement of 90 refugees in the county.

€275,862

€68,965.50 outstanding

BÁN

Garda Youth Diversion Project

€107,731

€143,746

€119,057

€140,740

Junction

Garda Youth Diversion Project

€118,500

€118,500

€116,243

€118,626

MEAS

Garda Youth Diversion Project

€105,234

€122,695

€125,963

€133,709

Treo Nua

Garda Youth Diversion Project

€105,234

€108,266

€106,803

€110,552

Galway Regional Youth Federation

To support Traveller Pride Week

€671.60

Westside Travellers and Intercultural Development

To support the Retention in Education pilot for Traveller and Roma children

€2,274.91

Galway County Council

To support Traveller Pride Week

€2,000

Rape Crisis Network Ireland

To support staff training and the provision of court accompaniment and other support and assistance services for victims.

€30,750

Domestic Violence Response Galway

To provide court accompaniment, counselling and other support and assistance services for victims.

€14,000

€15,500

€15,000

Allocated in 2019 - €15,000

Drawn down to date at March 2019 - €12,000

Balance to be provided during 2019

Cope Galway House

To provide court preparation and accompaniment services as well as other supports and assistance for victims of domestic violence.

€4,000

€6,500

€6,200

Communities Integration Fund

To support local community organisations to promote migrant integration.

Galway Integration Consortium

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€5,000

ARD Family Resource Centre

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€5,000

€5,000

Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€3,900

€5,000

Theatre for Change

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€5,000

Bia Lover

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€5,000

Rahoon Family Centre

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€5,000

St. Nicholas National School

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€4,800

The Irish Workhouse Centre

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€1,000

Youth Work Ireland Galway

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€2,805

Foróige Athenry Adolescent Project

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€4,520

Monivea Fair Committee

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€1,350

Pernet Company Ltd

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€4,950

Scoil Chroí Íosa

Communities Integration Fund – to promote migrant integration

€2,590

Cuan Mhuire Coolarne

To develop and deliver services for adult and juvenile offenders in their communities.

€40,000

€40,000

€40,000

€40,000 – funding for 2019 not yet drawn down

Tuam Training Workshop

To develop and deliver services for adult and juvenile offenders in their communities.

€184,000

€188,000

€195,000

€191,000 funding for 2019 not yet drawn down

Ballinasloe Training Workshop

To develop and deliver services for adult and juvenile offenders in their communities.

€183,700

€180,000

€185,700

€185,000 funding for 2019 not yet drawn down

Dochas Don Oige (Youth Persons Project)

To develop and deliver services for adult and juvenile offenders in their communities.

€269,000

€272,000

€274,900

€276,000 funding for 2019 not yet drawn down

Agencies under the remit of the Department

Project

Description of Project

2016

2017

2018

2019

Galway Courthouse Upgrade – Courts Service

This included the upgrade of the electrical system, the painting of the courtroom, the supply of new courtroom furniture and the upgrade of the jury room.

€147,600

€115,300

Clifden Courthouse – Courts Service

This included internal and external painting, a replacing of defective windows and a structural refurbishment.

€12,966.90

€160,830

International Protection

Questions (471)

Seán Fleming

Question:

471. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when contact will be made with a person (details supplied) to declare them a refugee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18804/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, for confidentiality reasons, it is not the practice to comment on applications for International Protection nor on whether or not any particular application has been made. Under Section 26 of the International Protection Act 2015, it is an offence to identify an international protection applicant. The offence is punishable by summary conviction to a Class A fine or a term of imprisonment of 12 months or both.

If applicants are seeking information on the status of their international protection application, they or their designated legal advisor should contact the Customer Service Centre of the International Protection Office (IPO) directly, either by email at info@ipo.gov.ie, by telephone at 01 6028008 or in writing at Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

An applicant who has lodged an appeal against an IPO refusal recommendation should approach the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly. The IPAT operates an email service which can be contacted by individuals with queries regarding their appeal application - info@protectionappeals.ie.

Individuals who have received a recommendation or decision from the foregoing bodies, and who are now awaiting a Ministerial Decision letter, can avail of the email service operated by the Ministerial Decisions Unit - mduinfo@justice.ie.

The Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications for International Protection under the International Protection Act 2015 on 27 February 2017, which is available on the website of the International Protection Office at the following link.

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

Prison Accommodation

Questions (472)

Clare Daly

Question:

472. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason two of the open prisons are running at 80% capacity and yet prisoners are being detained in the basement of Mountjoy Prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18842/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that there are no prisoners detained in basements in Mountjoy Prison. All accommodation cells utilised in Mountjoy Prison meet international minimum standards for the accommodation of prisoners. While an area of the prison is officially referred to as “B Base” this area of the prison is not a basement as suggested by the Deputy's question.

Decisions taken to transfer prisoners to Open Centres are taken after rigorous assessment by my officials with the primary concern being public safety. The determining factor in those decisions does not relate to numbers of prisoners within closed prisons on any one day, but rather are taken after consideration of public safety, the prisoner’s progress and behaviour with the closed prison system and the potential for rehabilitation.

Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that in 2018 a total of 87 prisoners transferred directly from Mountjoy Prison to the two Open Centres namely Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

Prison Committals

Questions (473)

Clare Daly

Question:

473. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if warrants are being executed under the old system resulting in persons being committed to prison for the non-payment of fines; if he has statistics in relation to the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18843/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will contact her directly when the information is to hand.