Visa Applications

Questions (105)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

105. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the child of a person (details supplied) can join them with the other parent from another EU country with regard to the health of the child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24722/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the visa appeal for the adult person referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office in Dublin on 18 April 2019. 

I understand that the child referred to by the Deputy is resident in Ireland and that no indication of health issues has been raised in the visa application or in the appeal of the initial decision.

Appeals are generally processed in the chronological order in which they are received.  While every effort is made to process appeals as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to  the volume of appeals received, the resources available to process them and the individual complexity of the application and subsequent appeal.  It is not possible to indicate at this time when the appeal decision 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.

Dual Citizenship

Questions (106)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) can achieve dual citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24723/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that Ireland currently allows dual citizenship. However, the acquisition of Irish citizenship may have implications for other citizenship(s) held by the person concerned, including automatic loss of those citizenships. Accordingly, applicants for Irish citizenship are advised to check the position with the relevant authorities of the State(s) concerned.  

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship is governed by specific legal provisions and an assessment as to whether an application is eligible or not can only be made after an application has been submitted.

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. 

Residency Permits

Questions (107)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) can upgrade their residency status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24724/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person's current permission to reside in the State expires on 30 September 2019.  I am further informed that no request has been received from the person concerned in relation to a renewal or change in their immigration permission.  I understand, however, that it is open to the person concerned to write to Residence Division Unit 1, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, Department of Justice and Equality, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, D02 XK70, Ireland and provide documentary evidence of their residence and current activities in 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.

Residency Permits

Questions (108)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure to be followed to obtain stamp 4 status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24726/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the application process in respect of employment permits is a matter for the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI).

I am further informed that if the person concerned is successful in their application to DBEI for a critical skills employment permit they may obtain permission to reside in this State, on Stamp 1 conditions, from their local immigration office.  Following 2 years residence in this Sate on Stamp 1 conditions, in conjunction with a critical skills employment permit, it is open to the person concerned to seek a support letter from the DBEI which would enable them to register with their local immigration office to reside in this State on Stamp 4 conditions.  Further information in relation to registration of a permission to reside on the basis of an employment permit can be found on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (109)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the determination of eligibility for an update of stamp 4 and-or naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24736/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, who currently has permission to reside in the state until 26 November 2019 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.

Residency Permits

Questions (110)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the determination of eligibility for stamp 4 status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24740/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned submitted a request on 17 April, 2019 for renewal of their permission to reside in the State on Stamp 5 conditions.  INIS wrote to the person concerned on 17 April, 2019 advising that, as of 1 May, 2018, such applications must be made on the prescribed application form and include relevant supporting documentary evidence.

I am further advised that, to date, no further correspondence or application form has been submitted by the person concerned.  However, I understand it remains open to the person concerned to submit an application, without delay, to INIS.

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 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 (111)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the relevant section in his Department has received the necessary documentation to facilitate a review of the case for extended residency and-or leave to remain in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24741/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order signed on 29 September 2017.  This Order requires the person to remove themselves from the State and remain outside the State.  The enforcement of the Deportation Order is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. 

As previously advised, representations were received from the person concerned, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked including information regarding her marriage.  Following the detailed consideration of the information submitted in support of the request, the Deportation Order was affirmed and notified to the person concerned by letter dated 27 November 2018.  There are no outstanding applications for this applicant.

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.  

Drugs Crime

Questions (112, 113)

Micheál Martin

Question:

112. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the increased use of cocaine; if he has met the Garda Commissioner to discuss same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24761/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

113. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is considering a campaign regarding the use and dangers of cocaine and its consequences on criminal gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24762/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 113 together.

I am aware that An Garda Síochána is reporting increased seizures of cocaine, as well as evidence of increased circulation of the drug, which is an unfortunate and worrying development. A related cause for concern is the involvement of violent organised crime gangs in the drugs trade. An Garda Síochána are pursuing a number of strategies to tackle drug trafficking by organised criminal gangs including:

- gathering intelligence on those involved in the distribution of drugs

- conducting targeted operations on criminal networks based on intelligence

- working with the Criminal Assets Bureau to seize the assets of criminals and disrupt their activities and

- working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, both within and outside the jurisdiction.

As the Deputy is aware, I meet the Garda Commissioner and his senior team regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern and such meetings have taken place in recent weeks to discuss the recent rise in drug-related crime in the Drogheda area as well as in Dublin city. In this regard I very much welcome the increased Garda resources which have been allocated by the Commissioner to the Louth Division and the Dublin Metropolitan Region as part of the strategy to address organised criminality, arising from the supply of illegal drugs.

Insurance Industry Regulation

Questions (114)

Michael McGrath

Question:

114. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to regulate so-called claims harvesting websites; the number of such sites active in the Irish market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24774/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The issue of claims harvesting, whereby people involved in accidents are pursued by on-line and other entities for commercial gain and encouraged or induced to lodge insurance injury claims, is one which is increasingly complex to govern. Spurred on by advances in business technology and electronic media, those who operate harvesting entities in contravention of the law come from a variety of countries, backgrounds and disciplines that are proving prohibitive in terms of cost and scope to corral under a single regulator.

Even in internet governance terms, these operators can literally change identity overnight when challenged, as they continue to be in this and other jurisdictions, and can operate outside the scope of national or EU law while also seeking to exploit several markets at once. These are the very substantial challenges that remain to finding a cost-effective regulatory response at either national or international level to claims harvesting operations, including as considered by the Cost of Insurance Working Group.

As far as those aspects of claims harvesting which fall within the remit of my own Department may be concerned, the key regulatory focus continues to be on the interface between claims harvesters and those solicitors with whom they would wish to engage in a mercenary manner to the detriment of our insurance regime. This is being applied diligently by the Law Society which continues to take a strict approach against any offending solicitors or claims harvesters in this area as appropriate to the Society's role as the regulator of solicitors under the Solicitors' Acts.

This approach, which has proven highly effective, has a number of key legislative components. Section 5 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 2002 generally prohibits unqualified persons from advertising a service of a legal nature that could otherwise be provided by a solicitor for a fee or reward. This includes such advertising in relation to personal injuries claims in the context of claims harvesting websites. Moreover, section 62 of the Solicitors Act 1954 prohibits solicitors from rewarding or agreeing to reward unqualified persons for the introduction of legal business and provides that any such agreement is void. Under the Solicitors Advertising Regulations as recently updated by the Law Society with my consent under S.I. No. 229 of 2019, it remains the case that an advertisement intended to publicise or otherwise promote a solicitor in relation to the solicitor's practice shall be in such a form as shall not expressly or impliedly solicit, encourage or offer any inducement to any person or group or class of persons to make claims for damages for personal injuries or to contact the solicitor concerned with a view to such claims being made.

From the active engagement by the Law Society and the on-going work of the Cost of Insurance Working Group, I understand that the number of active claims harvesting websites operating in Ireland has drastically reduced in recent years from approximately 60 in 2016 to around 11 in more recent times. It is also understood from the Law Society that 23 websites have been removed from the internet on foot of its efforts since 2014 with further such removals possible. The Society has previously issued relevant practice directions and directly notified claims referral companies found to be targeting solicitors about the statutory prohibition on solicitors paying referral fees. It has also successfully pursued these matters before the High Court and is, therefore, to be commended for the diligent and effective discharge of its particular regulatory functions in response to this threat to our insurance regime.

This strict approach is set to continue under the new advertising provisions of section 218 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. Under that section, such advertising will no longer be regulated by the legal professional bodies as happens at present but by the Legal Services Regulatory Authority. Specifically, section 218(d)(vi) of the 2015 Act allows for the restriction of any advertisement which, in the opinion of the Authority, “expressly or impliedly solicits, encourages or offers any inducement to any person or group or class of persons to make claims for personal injuries or seek legal services in connection with such claims.” The Authority will be carrying out the required public consultations in preparation for the new legal services advertising regulations coming into operation in Q1 of 2020.

In so far, therefore, as claims harvesting operations are seeking to directly or indirectly engage solicitors in their claims work, the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 are operating as a bulwark against them with recognised effect. Such a regulatory approach will continue under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. While, in broader terms, the issue of claims harvesting does not seem at this time to lend itself to an immediately amenable regulatory solution, I will, along with my Department, continue to support the on-going work of the Cost of Insurance Working Group and of the Law Society in this regard.

Prison Medical Service

Questions (115)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

115. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress of the prison healthcare review following the appointment of the executive clinical lead; when the findings of the review will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24790/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that the Executive Clinical Lead was appointed in July 2018. Following that appointment, the Terms of Reference for the review of prison healthcare were agreed between the Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Health, and the Irish Prison Service in August 2018. A Steering Group with representatives from all three organisations was established, and has since considered the requirements for a Health Needs Assessment of the Irish Prison Service.

This assessment will determine the health status of prisoners, the need and demand for healthcare services, while also establishing the current level of healthcare service provision in prisons. It is proposed that this assessment will outline current and future health needs and make recommendations, based on best international practice, to the Steering Group on the future development of health and personal social services. Arrangements to ensure that the public procurement process for the expertise required to complete the Health Needs Assessment are in place. This process has now been advertised, with a closing date in July 2019.

Prison Medical Service

Questions (116)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

116. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the ratio of medical staff, that is, the number of general practitioners and nurses per prisoner per prison in May 2019; the provision of psychologists, psychiatrists and addiction counsellors per prisoner per prison in May 2019; the number of prisoners on waiting lists per prison to access all such services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24791/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that it currently directly employs four permanent prison doctors. The Prison Service also delivers general practitioner sessions through the services of locum doctors who are engaged by way of an existing contract agreement. A panel of 30 qualified general practitioners are available to the Irish Prison Service. This equates to approximately 12 whole-time equivalent locum doctors delivering general practitioner sessions across the prison estate. The Prison Service also employ 127.5 whole-time equivalent permanent prison nurses.

I am informed that the Irish Prison Service continues to explore and develop all possible avenues to ensure the recruitment of permanent prison doctors, and procure the services of qualified general practitioners to maintain its delivery of effective general practitioner services. Moreover, the Irish Prison Service has confirmed that it has recently successfully undertaken a recruitment campaign for prison nurses which is expected to realise the employment of a full complement of 143 prison nurses.

The following table below set out the average number of prisoners in each prison and the numbers of nurses assigned to each prison.

Prison

Average Number of Prisoners in Custody 2018*

Nurses (WTE)

Arbour Hill

135

5

Castlerea

300

10

Cloverhill

402

14.5

Cork Prison

288

10

Dochas Centre

132

7

Limerick

247 (33 female, 214 male)

11

Loughan House

110

2

Midlands

823

20

Mountjoy

679

21.5

Portlaoise

227

8

Shelton Abbey

97

2

Wheatfield Place of Detention

452

16.5

*Provisional pending publication of Annual Report

I am further advised by the Irish Prison Service that in-reach mental health services are made available to persons in the custody of the Irish Prison Service through its collaboration with the Health Service Executive, and the National Forensic Mental Health Service. The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that the figures available for the week ending 20 May 2019, indicate that an aggregate of 27 persons in custody were awaiting a transfer to the Central Mental Hospital.

There are 19.8 whole time equivalent Addiction Counsellors posts filled across the prison estate, as shown in the following table. The Irish Prison Service have advised that 2,750 prisoners benefitted from addiction counselling services in 2018. Figures at end April 2019 indicate that there are 314 prisoners who have been referred to the addiction counselling service who are awaiting treatment.

Prison

Counsellor Posts (WTE)

Ratio – Counsellor: No. of Prisoners

Mountjoy

4.2

1: 236

Dochas

1.2

1: 88

Loughan House

1

1: 140

Shelton Abbey

0.8

1: 144

Wheatfield

3.2

1: 172

Cloverhill

1

1: 431

Castlerea

2

1: 170

Portlaoise

0.5

1: 582

Midlands

2

1: 423

Limerick

1.9

1: 125

Cork

2

1: 148

The current waiting list for the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service per prison is set out in the following table. In addition, all prisoners serving sentences for sex offences are screened for potential engagement in the Building Better Lives sex offender programme by the Prison Service Psychology Service and Probation Service.

The Irish Prison Service also employs 10 Assistant Psychologists across the prison estate on one year contracts, who are not included in the ratio of Prison Service Psychologists to prisoners. In the Irish Prison Service, Assistant Psychologists work predominantly in the area of primary care mental health and with young prisoners. They are heavily supervised by qualified Psychologists.

Prison

Waiting List - awaiting triage or intervention

Arbour Hill

36

Castlerea

41

Cloverhill Remand

22

Cork

27

Limerick

27

Midlands

185

Mountjoy (Female) Dochas

5

Mountjoy (Male)

138

Portlaoise

69

Wheatfield

64

Total

614

The ratio of Psychologists to prisoner bed space in closed prisons* is set out as follows:

Prison

Bed space

Psychologist Ratio

Arbour Hill

138

1:115

Cloverhill

431

1:287

Wheatfield

550

1:166

Mountjoy

755

1:215

Dochas

105

0.5:105

Midlands

835 (exc NVRU)

1:384

Portlaoise

263

0.2:263

Limerick

238

0.8:238

Cork

296

1:227

Castlerea

340

0.5:340

NVRU

10

0.3:10

* The IPS Psychology Service provides a consultancy service to Loughan House one day per month and a Psychology "Drop-In" clinic to Shelton Abbey one day per month.

Prison Visiting Committees Data

Questions (117)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

117. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vacancies on each prison visiting committee in 2019; and his plans to reform the current prison visiting committees including the appointments process and quality and standardisation of reporting. [24798/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that a Visiting Committee is assigned to each of the current 12 prisons and places of detention under the Prison (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 and Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1925.

Each committee is to consist of such number of responsible persons, not being more than twelve nor less than six, as the Minister shall think proper. At present there are 54 Visiting Committee members which leaves eighteen vacancies in total which are outlined in the following Table.

Prison

Current Members

Current Vacancies

1

Arbour Hill Prison

5

1

2

Castlerea Prison

5

1

3

Cloverhill Prison

3

3

4

Cork Prison

5

1

5

Dóchas Centre

4

2

6

Limerick Prison

4

2

7

Loughan House Open Centre

2

4

8

Midlands Prison

6

0

9

Mountjoy Prison

5

1

10

Portlaoise Prison

6

0

11

Shelton Abbey Open Centre

5

1

12

Wheatfield Place of Detention

4

2

Total Vacancies

54

18

The function of visiting committees is to visit at frequent intervals the prison to which they are appointed and hear any complaints which may be made to them by any prisoner. The visiting committee have free access, either collectively or individually to every part of their prison. In inspecting prisons, the visiting committees focus on issues such as the quality of accommodation, catering, medical, educational, welfare and recreational facilities.

The role of Visiting Committees will be considered in the context of the drafting of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill which is the vehicle intended to be used to implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

As I recently indicated 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.

Prisoner Transport

Questions (118)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

118. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of complaints received by the Irish Prison Service in respect of prisoner escort services in 2018 and to date in 2019; the predominant issues raised in these complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24799/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that the Prison Service Escort Corp was established in 2005 on an independent basis within the Irish Prison Service to provide a prisoner escorting service.  Prison Service Escort Corp is a dedicated corps of staff whose task is to escort prisoners to and from court. 

All prisoners have the right to make a complaint at any time and all complaints are treated with the utmost seriousness. Complaints can vary in nature. Some may relate to, for example, conditions of accommodation, quality of food or access to services. Other complaints can be more serious such as allegations of assault, mistreatment or intimidation. All complaints are dealt with in accordance with Rule 57 A & B of the Prison Rules 2013.  

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that 4 complaints were received in 2018 and 1 complaint received to date in 2019.

Of the five complaints received two related to alleged assaults on a prisoner, one related to the type of food received, one related to unfair treatment, and one related to duration prisoner was left in cellular van.

Parental Leave

Questions (119)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

119. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of maximum entitlement to unpaid parental leave available to a parent who works on a week-on and week-off basis. [24814/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Parental Leave Act 1998 provides that a parent who completes one year of continuous employment shall be entitled to maximum of 18 weeks of parental leave.

Section 7(2)(a)(i) of the Act provides that where a parent works on a pro-rata basis, the amount of parental leave available to the employee shall be equivalent to the number of hours worked by that employee in the 18 weeks before they intend to commence their parental leave.  Therefore, in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy, the employee in question would currently be entitled to a maximum of nine weeks of parental leave.

The Deputy will appreciate from discussions during the progress of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 through the Houses of the Oireachtas, the maximum periods of parental leave available to parents will increase to 22 weeks from 1st September this year, and to 26 weeks from 1st September 2020.  

To give effect to this commitment, my officials are currently preparing a commencement order to be signed by Minister Flanagan in the coming weeks.

As a consequence, the maximum amount of leave available to a parent working a week-on, week-off basis will be 11 weeks from 1st September 2019 and 13 weeks from 1st September 2020.

Garda Deployment

Questions (120)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

120. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí deployed by Garda division further to the recent announcement of the deployment of newly qualified gardaí. [24816/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

I am informed by the Commissioner that the Cohort Model of resource allocation is currently utilised for the allocation of personnel within An Garda Síochána, including newly attested probationer Gardaí from the Garda College. Using this model, the allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel is determined by a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, and operational strategies. When considering the allocation of resources to a Division, comprehensive consultation is carried out with local Garda management during which all factors are taken into consideration.

In relation to the allocation of newly attested Gardaí, it is important to keep in mind that they have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.

I am further informed by the Commissioner that while not all Garda Stations are training stations, the allocation of probationer Gardaí to a Divisional training station facilitates the reassignment of Gardaí to other stations within the Division, if required, by the Divisional Officer.

The information in relation to the number of new recruits allocated by Division on 7th June 2019 is as set out in the table, as supplied by the Commissioner.

I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the level of recruitment of Garda members planned for 2019 will ensure that the Government's commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members by 2021 will be achieved.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána. This has seen an increase in the number of Garda members to just over 14,000 at the end of 2018, a net increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016.

The Government has increased the budget for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, including provision for the recruitment of new Gardaí and Garda Staff this year. The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and a net 600 Garda Staff. This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019. This is in addition to the approximately 260 Gardaí redeployed from administrative to front line duties by the end of 2018.

The Garda strength by Division from 2009 to 30 April 2019 , as provided by the Commissioner, is available on my Department’s website through the following link.http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx/Files/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx

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

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

Divisional Allocations - as at 7th June 2019

DIVISION

TRAINING STATION

Training station breakdown

 Divisional Total allocation  at 7/6/2019

DMR East

Blackrock

1

Dun Laoghaire

4

Dundrum

4

9

DMR North 

Ballymun

5

Balbriggan 

5

Clontarf

4

Coolock

5

Raheny

5

Swords

4

28

DMR Nth Central

Bridewell    

2

Mountjoy   

3

 

Store St   

5

10

DMR South

Rathfarnham

4

Rathmines

3

Sundrive Rd

3

Tallaght

14

Terenure 

2

26

DMR Sth Central 

Irishtown

3

Kevin St

3

Kilmainham

6

Pearse St

13

Donnybrook

3

28

DMR West 

Ballyfermot

5

Blanchardstown 

7

Clondalkin    

4

Finglas

7

Lucan 

2

Ronanstown

2

27

Meath 

Ashbourne

5

Navan

3

Trim

2

10

Waterford 

Waterford

4

4

Galway 

Galway

9

9

Cavan/Monaghan

Cavan

4

Monaghan

Carrickmacross

3

Bailieboro

3

10

Louth 

Drogheda

25

Dundalk 

3

Ardee

2

30

Donegal 

Letterkenny

3

Buncrana

3

Ballyshannon

2

Milford

2

10

Total

201

EU Directives

Questions (121)

Alan Kelly

Question:

121. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the process by which she plans to transpose the ECN+ directive, Directive 2019/1; if consideration will be given to the establishment of an expert advisory group to advise on the significant administrative, resource and legislative requirements of transposition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24596/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The ECN+ Directive was published on 14 January 2019.  The transposition of the Directive will improve the decentralised system of enforcement of EU competition rules put in place by Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 and boost the effective enforcement of EU competition rules. It will further underpin close cooperation in the European Competition Network.  The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), ComReg, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Irish Courts are National Competition Authorities (NCAs) in Ireland for the purposes of EU competition law.  

The ECN+ Directive ensures that NCAs:

1. have effective investigation and decision-making tools

2. are able to impose effective deterrent fines

3. have a leniency programme in place which facilitates application for leniency in multiple jurisdictions, and

4. have sufficient resources and can enforce the EU competition rules independently.  

It is intended to transpose the ECN+ Directive by primary legislation and it is intended that the Directive will be transposed into national law by the deadline of 4 February 2021.

My Department undertook a public consultation on the proposed Directive in May 2017. Six replies were received to that consultation, including replies from the CCPC and ComReg. My Department is also in consultation with the CCPC and ComReg on how best to confer the powers given by the Directive to NCAs. In addition, my Department will be working closely with the Attorney General’s Office on the transposition of the Directive, including matters such as the introduction of non-criminal sanctions and the leniency programme, which are not currently provided for in Irish competition law.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Questions (122)

Alan Kelly

Question:

122. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the fact that the European Commission deemed it necessary to open a formal investigation into alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the insurance sector here in view of the fact that the matter is one that falls within the competence of the CCPC; her further views on whether the CCPC has sufficient resources to effectively enforce competition law here; her views on the ability of the CCPC to effectively investigate alleged infringements of competition law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24597/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The European Commission investigates anticompetitive conduct which has an effect on trade in more than one EU country. Once the European Commission opens an investigation into a matter it relieves the competition authorities of the Member States of their competence to apply EU competition rules to the alleged practices concerned.

The CCPC has also been, and will continue to, co-ordinate with and provide support to the European Commission in their investigation. Within this context, in July 2017, the CCPC assisted the European Commission in unannounced inspections at premises of companies active in motor insurance in the Republic of Ireland.

Section 9 (5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the Commission is independent in the performance of its functions, including carrying out investigations of alleged anti-competitive practices.

As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Commission, I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have no direct function in the matter. 

In terms of the CCPC’s resources, the CCPC has 100 staff members (from an initial figure of 82 in 2014 when the CCPC was formally established), 29 of whom work in the enforcement of competition law, including investigators, economists and lawyers (from 21 in 2014). It should be noted that some of these staff work on other enforcement areas e.g. car crime and pyramid selling. 

In 2018 the CCPC filled 23 vacancies across the organisation, this included for new specialised roles, including a digital forensics unit.

I am informed that the CCPC is active across a number of different sectors, with active investigations in the ticketing, insurance, procurement of school transport services and the bagged cement sectors. By their nature competition law and other white-collar crime investigations take considerable time as they are often based on obtaining evidential paper trails. In order for them to be legally robust, all the necessary investigative and procedural steps must be taken. The CCPC has secured a number of important outcomes in various sectors – including securing the first conviction for bid-rigging in Ireland and securing commitments from various bodies to address competition concerns.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (123)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

123. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the current status of the pending work permit application (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24725/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I have been informed by the Employment Permits section of my Department that this application is currently being processed.  Officials from the section have advised that they will contact the applicant to discuss and clarify matters relating  to this application.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

Questions (124)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

124. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department will be in a position to assist the development of a software package to assist small businesses in towns and villages nationally in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24742/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in every county are the first-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and micro enterprises seeking to start a new business or grow and develop an existing business. I am pleased that the individual in this case has already met with the relevant LEO business advisor on 15th May 2019. The LEOs can offer a range of advisory and other supports to businesses and again I understand that the LEO business advisor recommended that the individual complete an "Expression of Interest" form regarding a feasibility study grant. However, to-date the LEO has not received the completed "Expression of Interest" form.  The LEO business advisor discussed with the individual the different financial assistance available to microenterprises along with the various soft supports in the form of training for anyone interested in starting or growing their business (e.g. a Start Your Own Business course).

In general, the LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into viable export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories, namely feasibility grants, priming grants and business development grants for existing businesses that want to expand. In addition, there is a technical assistance grant available for eligible micro-exporter applicants which are seeking to explore alternative markets for their product or service.

The Advisor also discussed the different incentives and schemes available including:

- Microfinance Loan Scheme

- Trading Online Voucher Scheme

- Revenue incentives

- New Frontiers Programme

- Current co-working and hub spaces available.

In conclusion, I would urge the individual to engage further with the relevant LEO for more information with a view to pursuing the feasibility study grant application. In that regard, I am assured that the LEO  will do all it can to assist in this application in order to determine whether and which financial assistance it can provide.

Company Registration

Questions (125)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

125. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the date documentation (details supplied) was received by the Companies Registration Office. [24764/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I am informed by the Companies Registration Office that there is no company on the register with the name referred to by the Deputy.

National Minimum Wage

Questions (126)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

126. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of times in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019 the Labour Court has used its powers under section 41 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24771/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Legislation in relation to the setting of the National Minimum Wage is a policy matter for  my colleague Minister Regina Doherty T.D. at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.  

In so far as my own Department is concerned, Section 41 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 provides that the Labour Court may exempt an employer from the obligation to pay an employee the National Minimum Wage in specific circumstances.  The Labour Court is an independent statutory body under the aegis of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The legislation stipulates that before granting such an exemption the Labour Court must be satisfied that the employer’s inability to pay, is to the extent that, if the employer were compelled to pay, the employee would be likely to be laid-off employment with the employer, or the employee's employment would be likely to be terminated.

I understand that no inability to pay claim has been submitted by an employer to the Labour Court under Section 41 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 in the period 2014 to date in 2019.

Dental Services Staff

Questions (127)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

127. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health his plans to recruit dental hygienists in CHO1 and CHO2 to address significant waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24592/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for reply to the Deputy.

HSE Staff Recruitment

Questions (128)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

128. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health the length of time a HSE post remains open to applicants following an offer being made and accepted; if applicants are informed of same before the offer of employment is withdrawn and the position filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24593/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Hospital Appointments Status

Questions (129)

Michael McGrath

Question:

129. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be seen by a consultant otolaryngologist as an outpatient; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24594/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.