Prison Staff

Questions (229)

Mick Wallace

Question:

229. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prison officers formally disciplined by the Irish Prison Service in response to breaches of prisoner privacy in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24892/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that, within the Irish Prison Service, the divulging of information regarding prisoners' private affairs is viewed as a very serious matter. In the course of an officer's work he or she may have access to, or hear information concerning the personal affairs of a prisoner and/or employee. Such information is strictly confidential.

Any member of the Irish Prison Service who discharges or divulges information to any third party or the media is not only contravening clear policy, but is also contravening the law. The divulging of information regarding prisoners' private affairs is very damaging to prisoners, to the families of those who are in prison and to the Irish Prison Service. Such breaches have very real potential to compromise the safety and security of prisoners and prison staff. Breaches of this nature are an offence under the Prison (Disciplinary Code for Officers) Rules, 1996: 'Breach of Confidence, that is to say, without proper authority, directly or indirectly disclosing, divulging, communicating, publishing or causing to be divulged, communicated or published any information not lawfully available to members of the public which comes to his or her knowledge from official sources or derives from his or her duties.'

It is open to a Governor, where it appears an officer may have committed a breach of discipline of this nature, to carry out an investigation under the Code of Discipline, and if he or she is satisfied that the alleged breach has occurred, to proceed to an oral hearing on the matter under the Code. The penalties provided for under the Code are (a) a reprimand, or (b) a reprimand plus a reduction in rank or a reduction in pay by deferment of one or more increments for one, three, six or twelve months or any longer period the Governor may specify, or (c) dismissal from the Prison Service.

Any such breach of confidence would also be a breach of the Official Secrets Act 1963 and could be subject to prosecution under Section 13 of that Act. When officers are recruited to the Irish Prison Service they are required to sign a copy of the Official Secrets Act 1963. Staff are also expected to sign to acknowledge that they have received this particular Act in hardcopy and that they have read and understand it. During their induction, Officers are educated about the use of information and discretion and are made aware of their legal obligations in this regard.

I can inform the Deputy that in advance of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect on Friday 25th May 2018, the Irish Prison Service carried out awareness sessions across the Irish Prison Service estate. The Irish Prison Service continues to take every measure to ensure full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. A staff obligations note outlining the roles and responsibilities of all staff in relation to Data Protection was issued to all personnel via email, notice boards, internal intranet and via "pop-up" informational messages on each staff members PC.

In addition, staff have been made aware that all accesses to data are recorded and that these records are retained and available for auditing. Access to and usage of data is subject to periodic examination and audit conducted as part of the Irish Prison Services’ on-going audit and review process. Monthly random audits are carried out on our offender management system to ensure business purpose is respected and adhered to by staff accessing prisoners personal data.

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that up until the end of 2018 there have been no employees in the Irish Prison Service formally disciplined in response to breaches of Prisoner Privacy. There is currently one case where the disciplinary process has commenced, but has not yet been concluded.

Garda Deployment

Questions (230)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

230. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in the national drugs unit in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of gardaí working in local drugs units in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24900/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, do not have responsibility for this 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 resources.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that the additional resources coming on stream have enabled him to assign resources to Specialist Bureaus such as the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. This Bureau leads on the strategy for tackling drugs and works with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in demand reduction and supply reduction at local level.

An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve. All Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences crime or otherwise. A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime.

I am informed by the Commissioner that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in the format requested, as Drugs Unit Personnel are assigned on a Garda Divisional basis.

For the Deputy's information, I have set out below in the attached link, the number of Gardaí by Division attached to the Drugs Unit in each of the years from 2008 until 30 April 2019 (the latest date for which figures are readily available), as provided by the Commissioner.

Drugs Unit Personnel by Division 2008 -2019

Drugs Unit

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

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

Garda Expenditure

Questions (231)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

231. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the annual cost of the national drugs unit in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the annual cost of each local drugs unit per area for the same period in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24901/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 and investment of €46 million in the Garda fleet over the same period.

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the table below outlines expenditure for the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau for the period 2015 to 31 May 2019.

Year

Expenditure

2015

€8,323,575

2016

€12,600,597

2017

€14,848,315

2018

€14,261,455

2019 (as of 31st May)

€5,291,951

In relation to the information requested on the costs of local drugs units, I understand from the Garda authorities that as the cost of each local drugs unit is not accounted for separately, it is not possible to provide the requested information.

Drugs Crime

Questions (232)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

232. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of money and assets seized as a result of drug-related crime in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the amount from these seizures given to community projects and similar in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24902/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Ireland has a robust legislative framework in place allowing for the freezing, seizure and confiscation of assets that are derived from criminal conduct. Responsibility for the identification, tracing, freezing, and ultimate confiscation of criminal assets does not rest with a single body in Ireland and is, instead, spread across a number of different agencies and statutory bodies, not all of which are the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Equality. These include An Garda Síochána, the Criminal Assets Bureau, Revenue, the Chief State Solicitors Office, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts.

The statistics requested regarding the amount of money and assets seized by the various bodies involved, broken down and categorised specifically as originating from drug-related crime, from 2012 to the present are, unfortunately, not readily available. Annual reports, such as that of the Criminal Assets Bureau (available at http://www.cab.ie/en/cab/pages/annualreports), do provide useful statistics and general information on the forfeiture and confiscation of criminal assets and activities in that regard.

In accordance with the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Acts 1996-2016, the Criminal Justice Act 1994, as amended, and related statutes, all confiscations relating to the proceeds of crime are transferred to the Minister for Finance to be paid into, or disposed of, for the benefit of the Exchequer.

Prisoner Complaints Procedures

Questions (233, 234)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

233. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of complaints received in 2018 and to date in 2019 that were upheld, not upheld, not proven, terminated or incomplete, respectively; the length of time, that is, minimum, maximum and average it took to complete and communicate the outcomes of complaints to prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24907/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

234. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of category A complaints received in 2018 and to date in 2019 that were upheld, not upheld, not proven, terminated or incomplete, respectively; the length of time, that is, minimum, maximum and average it took to complete and communicate the outcomes of complaints to prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24908/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 and 234 together.

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number complaints, including category A complaints, received in 2018 and to date in 2019 that were upheld, not upheld, not proven, terminated or incomplete is contained in the tables attached. The 2019 figures are as at 12th June, 2019.

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.

Under the Irish Prison Service Complaints System there are 6 categories of complaints depending on the seriousness of the complaint. The most serious being Category A Complaints which are investigated by persons outside the Prison Service.

Category A complaints are complaints alleging assault or use of excessive force against a prisoner, or ill treatment, racial abuse, discrimination, intimidation, threats or any other conduct against a prisoner of a nature and gravity likely to bring discredit on the Irish Prison Service.

I am informed by my officials that the average length of time it takes to investigate a Category A complaints is 2.9 months, the average time for all other complaints investigated by prison management is 1.5 months. Throughout the prison estate, all efforts are put in place to relay the outcome of any investigation to the complainant and all other parties involved, (where appropriate) within a week of receipt of same.

CATEGORY A COMPLAINTS ONLY

2018

2019

Total number of Complaints received

80

25

OF THAT TOTAL:

Total number upheld

4

2

Total number not upheld

46

4

Total number not proven

4

0

Total number terminated

3

0

Total number incomplete

12

13

Total number withdrawn

9

0

Total number part upheld

0

2

Total number not investigated

2

4

ALL OTHER COMPLAINTS

2018

*2019

Total number of Complaints received

977

359

OF THAT TOTAL:

Total number upheld

300

104

Total number not upheld

309

101

Total number not proven

162

39

Total number terminated

98

26

Total number incomplete

108

89

*Totals reflect the number of complaints as at 12th June 2019

Garda Station Closures

Questions (235)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

235. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his engagement and that of his predecessors with the management of An Garda Síochána regarding the former Dublin Garda station in O'Connell Street in the context of its reopening on a full-time basis. [24940/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources made available to An Garda Síochána. This includes responsibility for the formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations. Indeed the Deputy may recall that as recently as December 2018, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in its report “Policing with Local Communities” confirmed that it is appropriate that the Commissioner should continue to hold this responsibility.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for certain information in relation to the office referred to by the Deputy and I will write directly to the Deputy when that is available.

Visa Applications

Questions (236)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

236. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time a person (details supplied) will have to wait for a visa application to be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24950/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that request for permission to reside is under active consideration. The Deputy will appreciate that applications are dealt with in chronological order. I am also informed that it is expected INIS will issue a decision to the person concerned, in writing, next month.

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.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (237)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

237. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent by his Department on the recent visit by the President of the United States of America in June 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24970/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The only expenditure to be incurred directly by my Department relates to a Press Officer of the Department who was present in County Clare to assist with media operations who will receive travel and subsistence payments in line with standard civil service rates.

In relation to security costs of the visit and in particular the costs incurred by An Garda Síochána, I would remind the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. He is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including the allocation of Garda resources.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for the specific information requested and when it is to hand I will write to the Deputy directly.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (238)

Dara Calleary

Question:

238. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person can apply for citizenship in circumstances (details supplied). [24989/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.

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

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

- be of good character,

- have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence in the State amounting to four years,

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

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

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

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

It is also open to an applicant generally to apply under Section 16(a) of the 1956 Act where the applicant is of Irish descent or has Irish association. In such cases the Minister may in his absolute discretion waive the conditions for naturalisation set out under Section 15 of the Act, including residency. The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of Irish descent or Irish association to the Minister for consideration.

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

If the applicant believes he has an entitlement to Irish citizenship through descent an application for an Irish passport should be made directly to the Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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

Prisoner Data

Questions (239)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

239. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of remand prisoners held alongside persons serving a prison sentence by prison; and the number of remand prisoners cell sharing with sentenced prisoners. [24998/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that as of Friday 14 June, the number of remand/trial prisoners in custody was 748. Of this 748, 206 remand/trial prisoners were sharing a cell with a sentenced prisoner. A breakdown by prison is contained in the attached table.

Institution

Total number of prisoners not serving a sentence held in custody on Remand, Trial and Trial & Remand warrants

Number of those prisoners sharing a cell with a sentenced prisoner

Arbour Hill Prison

2

0

Castlerea Prison

67

18

Cloverhill Remand Prison

378

47

Cork Prison

59

35

Limerick Prison

91

44

Midlands Prison

68

46

Mountjoy Prison ( Female)

34

12

Mountjoy Prison ( Male )

45

0

Portlaoise Prison

4

4

Total

748

206

I wish to advise the Deputy that as Cloverhill Prison is the primary remand prison for the Leinster area, it has been affected more significantly in terms of the increased number of committals in the past year.

Prison Governors are, by law, required to admit into custody all prisoners committed to prison by the Courts. The Irish Prison Service therefore has no control over the numbers committed to custody in any given year.

Prisoner Releases

Questions (240)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

240. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to remove the prohibition on temporary release for those offenders who receive the presumptive mandatory sentence for a drugs or firearms offence as recommended by the strategic review group on penal policy in 2014. [24999/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Criminal Justice Acts 2006 and 2007 provide for the prohibition of persons serving minimum sentences for certain offences under the Firearms and Misuse of Drugs Acts from being granted temporary release “unless for grave reason of a humanitarian nature”.

The sentences and provisions attached to the offences in question were introduced on foot of concerns regarding the impact that these particular types of offences have on individual communities in particular and on society in general.

In November 2015, in a challenge to the constitutionality and disproportionate nature of such a prohibition, the High Court found that the provision was not unconstitutional and that it was not disproportionate in that it allows the sentencing judge discretion to deviate from the minimum sentence in certain circumstances and that the prohibition on the granting of temporary release is not an absolute one in that it allows the granting of temporary release in certain circumstances.

The Minister will keep this recommendation under review, and there will also be an opportunity to discuss its implications further in debates on proposals currently before the House in relation to parole.

Prison Discipline

Questions (241)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

241. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of incidents in which control and restraint was used by prison officers from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019; the number of prison officers who received training in conflict resolution during the same period; the number of incidents de-escalated through conflict resolution techniques; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25000/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that it has not been possible in the timeframe available to collate the information sought. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as this information has been compiled.

Coroners Service

Questions (242)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

242. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an inquest into the death of a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25029/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the legislation governing Coroners is the Coroners Act, 1962.

Under this legislation a coroner is a statutory officer exercising quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which he or she is independent. The coroner is responsible for the scheduling and conducting of inquests in his or her district. The Deputy will appreciate that neither I nor my Department has any role in the conduct of individual cases.

I am informed that the timeframe between the death of a person and the holding of any necessary inquest is dependent on a number of factors, including the receipt by the coroner of the results of the post-mortem examination, any tests carried out as part of the post-mortem process, and the assembling of a full inquest file by An Garda Síochána containing all relevant witness statements and depositions.

However, I understand that the coroner concerned has kept the next of kin informed as to the progress of the investigation.

Private Security Authority

Questions (243)

Mary Butler

Question:

243. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); the date from which it is a requirement for businesses that change locks in private properties to obtain a licence from the Private Security Authority; his views on whether the licence regime is disproportionate in its impact with respect to the administrative burden and compliance costs for small and micro businesses in the window and door trade to obtain such a licence; if he has given consideration to consulting the sector with a view to bringing in a more proportionate and fair regime for small businesses; and if his attention has been drawn to the burden being placed on customers and members of the public that rely on such businesses for the service in view of the fact the Private Security Authority is formally requesting that businesses cease providing a locksmith service until an application is completed for a licence. [25075/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent agency under the remit of my Department, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State. The Private Security Services Act 2004 (as amended) sets out the activities in the private security industry which are, or will be, subject to licensing. One of the security services prescribed in the legislation is that of locksmith.

I have no involvement in the day to day operations of the PSA. I can however inform the Deputy that the taking of applications for the licensing of the locksmith sector came into operation on 1st October 2016 under Statutory Instrument No. 343 of 2016 Private Security (Licensing And Standards) (Locksmith) Regulations 2016. In accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 344 of 2016, it has been an offence to provide locksmith services without a licence since the 1st day of February 2017. Providing a service without a licence puts the contractor and their clients at risk of prosecution.

In September, 2016 the PSA provided details of these new regulations on their website. In addition, the PSA ran a radio advertising campaign at the time and annually since then. They also provide details in relation to licensing and regulation of the industry in their newsletter to industry stakeholders. The relevant information notes in relation to the locksmiths sector are PSA 58 - Information Note on Locksmiths and PSA 79 - Locksmiths FAQs which can be found on the PSA website.

Prior to the introduction of licensing the Authority undertook two public consultations on the regulation of the sector. Following these public consultations the Authority published the licensing requirements for locksmiths in its document, PSA 55:2016, available on the Authority’s website. The document outlines the definition of a locksmith as ‘a person, who provides a security service installing, opening, maintaining, repairing or servicing security equipment that,

(a) consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to or within premises where such equipment is situated or

(b) consists of mechanical, electronic or other locking devices designed, constructed or adapted to prevent unauthorised access to motor vehicles’.

It also includes a person who, in connection with the provision of the services referred to above:

- originates, duplicates or provides, by copy or code, restricted keys or motor vehicle transponder keys (this includes where the provision of such keys is the sole locksmith activity)

- gives advice relating to the installation of such equipment or advice relating to the protection of such devices from damage or interference.

The following do not require a licence:

a) The installation of locks or locking mechanisms that constitute a component of an access control system.

b) Qualified carpenter who installs a mechanical locking device as part of the installation of a door provided that the door does not proceed access to safes or strong rooms

c) Any work on locking mechanisms in doors and windows by a person whose sole or main occupation is the installation of windows and doors, provided:

- the work is undertaken by the person who installed the door or window and is carried out within the manufacturer’s warranty period or warranty period agreed and documented by the customer and the person at the time of the installation, and

- in the case of a door installation, the door does not provide access to safes or strong rooms.

The Authority regularly meets the various locksmith representative bodies to discuss the regulatory impact on their sector. In recent weeks these discussions have centred on whether there is a need to review the scope of licensing. The Authority will continue to consult with the representative bodies on this issue and if changes to the licensing regime are deemed necessary, they will be made in due course.

The licence fee comprises of two elements, an administration fee of €1,000 and a turnover fee based on the annual turnover of a contractor. The licence issued by the Authority is valid for a two year period. The provision of a regulatory environment has cost implications for the industry. Both the public and the industry benefit from regulation and it is in line with Government policy that industry should fund such regulation.

The Authority has made every effort to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum and reduced fees payable by contractors in 2013. It has also introduced an instalment payment option to assist contractors with paying for their licence.

Local authorities do not require a licence as the legislation defines a security service as “a service provided by a private security employer …………… in the course of an employment or as an independent contractor.” Local authorities are not a private security employer, however where sub-contractors are engaged in licensed activity, such sub-contractors are required to be licensed by the PSA. Individual licensing for employees working in the private security industry has not yet been introduced for employees in the locksmith sector. When such licensing is introduced individuals carrying out locksmith work in local authorities will require a license.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (244)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

244. 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. [25078/19]

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 continues to be processed and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If further documentation is 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.

Departmental Funding

Questions (245)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

245. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the annual funding provided to an organisation (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [25088/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Details of the funding provided by my Department to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) for the period 2011-2018, and to date in 2019, are provided in the attached spreadsheet.

The fluctuation in the annual funding relates to the variation in the type of services provided in the years in question. Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, provides funding towards RCNI's legal coordination service while the Victims of Crime office funds victim support services provided by the RCNI. Details of the services and payments provided for the period in question are included in the spreadsheet.

Cosc has an overall budget of €2.738m in 2019, with the bulk of this money used to fund the national awareness campaign on domestic and sexual violence (which was sought by and has the support of NGOs) as well as important domestic violence intervention programmes. The RCNI is one of 57 organisations to benefit from funding of €1.712 million to be provided by the Victims of Crime Office in 2019. 

The Deputy will wish to be aware that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, is the primary statutory funder of sexual violence services in the state. In 2019 the Tusla national provision for frontline Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence services is €25.3 million, an increase of €4.9 million on the equivalent 2015 allocation.

RCNI 2011-19

Seized Property

Questions (246)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

246. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vehicles impounded per Garda division since the commencement of the Clancy amendment on 22 December 2018 in view of the fact that An Garda Síochána confirmed on 27 May 2019 on a television programme (details supplied) that more than 1,100 vehicles had been impounded from unaccompanied learner drivers since that date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25097/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that, during the period 22 December 2018 to 12 June 2019, over 1,250 vehicles were seized from unaccompanied drivers under section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994, as amended (detention of vehicles). Unfortunately, I am informed that these statistics are not compiled in such a way as to identify specific Garda Division at which these incidents were recorded.

I am further advised by An Garda Síochána that the Assistant Commissioner for Roads Policing & Major Event Management is continuing to liaise with Garda ICT Division with a view to updating PULSE to allow for the identification of the specific reason as to why a vehicle was detained, i.e. no N.C.T., no driving licence, no tax or insurance certificate.

I am also informed that a total, for all drivers, of 13,550 vehicles were seized under section 41 in the first five months of this year.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (247)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

247. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the review being undertaken by officials of the Irish Prison Service and his Department in consultation with the Attorney General examining the necessary legislative and or administrative changes arising from the ruling in a case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25107/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The necessary legislative changes arising from the ruling in the case of O'Farrell, McDonald, Rafferty v The Governor of Portlaoise Prison have been considered by my Department having consulted with the Office of the Attorney General and the Irish Prison Service.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Government approved the General Scheme of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Amendment) Bill and its submission for pre-legislative scrutiny on 19 February 2019. The purpose of this Bill is to address the findings of the judgement in this case, and provides for a number of technical amendments to current legislation providing for the transfer of prisoners who wish to serve their remaining sentences in the State.

The Committee on Justice and Equality waived the requirement for this Bill to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny in March 2019. The Scheme is now with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.

Visa Applications

Questions (248)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

248. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if external agencies are employed in different countries to process visa applications from persons who are not Irish citizens and who seek to enter Ireland; if so, the countries in which such external agencies are used in this way; and the steps he has taken to ensure the protection of personal data supplied by visa applicants to such external agencies. [25159/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, in addition to the Dublin Visa Office, certain visa applications are decided by Irish Embassies either by specialist visa officers or under delegated sanction.

Both INIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) have arrangements in place with third parties in relation to frontline and administrative services which includes the receipt of visa applications and supporting documents and the subsequent transmission of same to the relevant embassy for processing. This provides a customer focused service using a network of regional offices to negate the need for applicants to travel to Irish embassies. For example, there are 13 and 15 regional offices available in India and China respectively, significantly reducing travel times required in these countries.

However, I can confirm that these third parties have no role in the processing of a visa and all decisions on Irish visa applications are made by Irish officials, either from my Department or from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The third parties are engaged under a contract which provides for the processing and safekeeping of personal information and which adheres to data protection legislation. In this way there will be the same level of confidence in the safekeeping of information provided by an applicant to a third party as there would be were the same information provided to an Irish civil servant.

The countries in which third parties are used include:

- P.R. China & Hong Kong

- India

- Pakistan

- Nepal

- Japan

- Nigeria

- United Arab Emirates

- Qatar

- Kuwait

- Venezuela

- Peru

- Turkey

- Ghana

- Azerbaijan

- Russian Federation.

Garda Operations

Questions (249)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

249. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on Garda Operation Daylight; the number of persons arrested and charged to date; the number of successful convictions obtained to date; if the operation is still active; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25161/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that Operation Daylight is a multi-agency initiative involving An Garda Síochána, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Egis Road & Tunnel Operations, targeting dangerous driving and toll evasion in the Dublin Port Tunnel and other motorway toll areas. Local Garda management have reported that Operation Daylight was first conducted on 23 May 2019.

As a result of the operation four people were arrested at the Dublin Port Tunnel Toll Plaza for dangerous driving offences. Three of the arrested also failed the roadside drug test, and the fourth person was driving while disqualified. All four people are currently before the Courts.

Finally, I am informed that Operation Daylight is an ongoing initiative with further days of enforcement planned in the near future.