Brexit Preparations

Questions (252)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

252. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the provisions that have been made to protect in as much as feasibly possible all-island legal services in a no-deal Brexit scenario; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26697/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As will be appreciated, the jurisdictions immediately concerned, while different, have had a very close relationship for historical and political reasons including within a shared common law heritage. The Law Society and the Bar of Ireland are, therefore, liaising with their Northern Ireland counterparts to maintain the current cross-border arrangements post-Brexit where this is feasible and legally permissible in accordance with EU and national law. However, it remains to be seen what form Brexit will ultimately take so that the relevant arrangements can be finalised.

Secondary legislation has been prepared by my Department under the relevant provisions of the Solicitors' Acts and in conjunction with the Council of the Law Society to ensure that the recognition of UK solicitors on a reciprocal basis in this jurisdiction can continue post-Brexit, including under a no deal scenario. Separately, the Bar of Ireland, whose bilateral recognition framework outside the current EU framework is non-statutory, is making similar arrangements for the reciprocal recognition of UK barristers under the relevant Codes and Rules. Under these efforts, forty-four Northern Ireland Barristers were called to the Irish Bar in March 2019 as part of a reciprocal call. Upwards of 2,772 solicitors from England and Wales have registered in this jurisdiction with the Law Society between January of 2016 and May of this year with applications continuing to be processed.

In addition, the Government on 3 January 2019, welcomed the Bar of Ireland and Law Society initiative "Promoting Ireland as a Leading Centre Globally for International Legal Services" as a further component of the Government’s Brexit Strategy. The joint initiative specifically recognises that there are substantial cross border opportunities for the ‘all island’ market in legal services, particularly in the scenario where separate Brexit arrangements are contemplated for Northern Ireland.

The Government also agreed that this joint sectoral initiative be taken into consideration, as may be appropriate, for support under those measures being taken by the Government as part of its response to Brexit. At the same time it was agreed that, as Minister for Justice and Equality, I would facilitate the establishment of an appropriate Implementation Group to be chaired by a person of appropriate standing with the participation of all key stakeholders including Government Departments and IDA Ireland to support the effective realisation of the initiative. Steps are being taken in active consultation with the Bar Council and the Law Society for the appointment of a Chair and the resourcing and launch of the Implementation Group along these lines. These ongoing actions by the legal professional bodies and the Government are an inherent recognition of the strategic importance of maintaining the smooth conduct of legal services and legal proceedings with Northern Ireland and those other jurisdictions directly affected by Brexit for the continued benefit of both private citizens and enterprise.

Garda Youth Diversion Projects

Questions (253)

Michael McGrath

Question:

253. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 121 of 12 June 2019, the locations covered by each Garda diversion programme in Cork city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26080/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have attached a table setting out the Garda Districts in Cork that currently have a Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) located in them.

All of North Cork Garda Division is covered by three projects, based in Cobh, Mallow and Youghal, and by a mobile service with dedicated staff that covers the remainder of the Division. Cork city Garda Division has 8 projects which take referrals from the entire of the Cork City Division. In the Cork West Division, the Bandon project covers both Bandon and Kinsale towns and their immediate hinterland.

GARDA DIVISION

PROJECT

GARDA DISTRICT

CBO

BAP

Gurranabraher

Foróige

Douglas West

Togher

Foróige

FAYRE

Mayfield/Gurranabraher

Foróige

GAP

Mayfield

Foróige

HERON

Togher

Foróige

Knocknaheeney/Hollyhill

Gurranabraher

Foróige

MAY

Anglesea St

Foróige

CORK CITY

TACT

Togher

Foróige

Feabhas

Cobh

Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service (YWI)

Mallow

Mallow

Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service (YWI)

CORK NORTH

Youghal

Midleton

Foróige

Mobile service

Rest of Division

Cloyne Diocesan Youth Service (YWI)

CORK WEST

Bandon

Bandon

Foróige

International Protection

Questions (254)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

254. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applicants for international protection who have applied for, been granted or refused the right to work since June 2018 under regulation 11 of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26165/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which I signed into effect from 30 June, 2018, includes access to the labour market for eligible international protection applicants. The Regulations provide a wide access to both employment and self-employment in almost all sectors and categories of employment.

I am advised by Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department that, since the introduction of the Regulations, a total of 3,920 international protection applicants have applied for a permission to access the labour market. Of those, 2,665 were granted a permission and 1,139 were refused as ineligible.

Status

No.

Granted

2,665

Ineligible

1,139

Pending*

116

Total

3,920

* Pending figure includes applications which have not reached 9 months, and those awaiting the return of requested supporting documents. The majority of cases pending are ultimately granted.

International Protection

Questions (255)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

255. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of occasions he has withdrawn the right to work of an international protection applicant under regulation 12 of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26166/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Regulation 12 of the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 allows for the withdrawal of a labour market access permission if certain conditions are not adhered to by the permission holder, for example, where the permission holder has entered into a business partnership or employed another individual.

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service of my Department (INIS) that since the introduction of the 2018 Regulations on 30 June, 2018, a total of 2,665 international protection applicants have been granted a labour market access permission. To date, no permission to access the labour market has been withdrawn under the Regulations.

International Protection

Questions (256)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

256. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who made an application for international protection or requested reception that have not been placed in a reception or accommodation centre; the way in which reception conditions for such applicants and recipients are being met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department has been encountering significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio. Coupled with an increase in the number of people applying for protection in recent years is the large number of people with an international protection status or a permission to remain who continue to live in RIA accommodation. RIA has approximately the same number of persons with status living in its centres as it has applicants housed in emergency accommodation. People with status or permission to remain have the same access to mainstream housing supports and services as nationals. RIA is working intensively with the Peter McVerry Trust, Depaul and the PATHS project to assist these people to transition to mainstream housing services.

As of 9th June 2019 there were 777 residents accommodated in 27 emergency accommodation locations.

RIA endeavours to accommodate all international protection applicants who require accommodation initially at Balseskin Reception Centre. They will then be dispersed to a RIA accommodation centre or an emergency accommodation location.

The duration of stay in the emergency accommodation is intended to be for as short a time as possible prior to being transferred to a contracted RIA accommodation centre when places become available. Family composition, ages of children and medical needs are factors which are taken into account in determining the sequence of persons transferred to centres from emergency accommodation.

Persons accommodated in emergency accommodation are provided with full board accommodation. SafetyNet, on behalf of the HSE, offers medical screening to those applicants who do not receive screening at Balseskin Reception Centre. Additionally, the RIA is liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to assist in the process of linking residents with local Community Welfare Services. Staff from RIA are meeting with the residents in these locations to discuss any issues that may arise. In addition, RIA is seeking to contract a Visiting Support and Cultural Liaison Service from the NGO community by the end of this month to assist those residents during their time in the emergency accommodation.

Premises proposed for use as emergency accommodation facilities are inspected by RIA staff prior to opening, and their suitability is assessed, taking all necessary regulatory and legislative requirements into account.

Direct Provision Data

Questions (257, 258, 259, 260)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

257. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision accommodation centres between the end of October 2018 and the end of May 2019, by month, age and gender in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26168/19]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

258. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average and median duration of stay within direct provision reception and accommodation centres for international protection applicants from January 2018 to date, by month in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26169/19]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

259. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the Reception and Integration Agency has not published monthly reports since October 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26170/19]

View answer

Catherine Connolly

Question:

260. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the Reception and Integration Agency has not produced information on the duration of stay for persons within direct provision accommodation centres since January 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26171/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 257 to 260, inclusive, together.

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) website is currently undergoing extensive improvements. All monthly statistics from October 2018 to date are currently being collated and will be available in the coming weeks.

The total duration of stay statistical data the Deputy requires is not available for 2018 on a monthly basis as it is not usually collated on a monthly basis. The report is run at a particular point in time as the information does not vary hugely from month to month. The median and average data is available for 2019 and is contained in the tabular statements below, these figures were produced at the end of each month, using data from the Department of Justice and Equality's AISIP system.

Median and Average Duration of Stay - Accommodation and Reception centres 2019.

Month

Median (in months)

Average (in months)

January

17

24

February

18

24

March

18

25

April

19

24

May

19

25

The data relating to the number of people by age and gender in accommodation and reception centres from October 2018 to May 2019 is contained in the tabular statements below.

Number of people in accommodation centres October 2018 - May 2019 by age and gender.

October

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

328

323

101

268

713

453

119

47

22

2,374

Male

355

349

125

491

1,060

689

211

43

16

3,339

Total

683

672

226

759

1,773

1,142

330

90

38

5,713

November

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

324

330

101

268

702

454

118

47

21

2365

Male

347

346

127

481

1061

688

210

44

16

3320

Total

671

676

228

749

1763

1142

328

91

37

5685

December

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

327

339

114

250

722

468

119

48

23

2410

Male

345

353

131

496

1064

694

224

45

21

3373

Total

672

692

245

746

1786

1162

343

93

44

5783

January

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

332

347

119

265

729

480

117

50

22

2461

Male

355

372

121

516

1062

710

231

45

18

3430

Total

687

719

240

781

1791

1190

348

95

40

5891

February

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

331

347

117

265

723

487

116

52

22

2460

Male

353

373

121

524

1071

718

229

45

18

3452

Total

684

720

238

789

1794

1205

345

97

40

5912

March

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

278

366

151

430

1043

784

269

53

18

3392

Male

287

463

100

230

676

551

138

59

24

2528

Total

565

829

251

660

1719

1335

407

112

42

5920

April

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

325

359

123

272

721

495

116

52

22

2485

Male

351

372

128

532

1063

726

236

44

17

3469

Total

676

731

251

804

1784

1221

352

96

39

5954

May

Age Range

0-4

5-12

13-17

18-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

56-65

66+

Total

Female

326

367

126

271

722

507

115

53

22

2509

Male

346

385

135

536

1068

730

242

45

18

3505

Total

672

752

261

807

1790

1237

357

98

40

6014

International Terrorism

Questions (261)

John Lahart

Question:

261. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional security measures taken by An Garda Síochána in respect of mosques and synagogues in Dublin in response to the recent attacks in New Zealand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26268/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Protecting the State and the people from terrorism and supporting international peace and security are among the highest priorities for the Government. Ireland, like many other open and democratic states, faces a threat from international terrorism.

The expert assessment of the terrorist threat to Ireland is that, while an attack is possible, it is not considered likely. The authorities here remain nonetheless very vigilant and the level of threat is kept under constant and active review by An Garda Síochána. The Garda Authorities supported by the Defence Forces have in place robust response and prevention capabilities and the authorities here work continually with their international counterparts to identify and manage threats.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational need.

While it would not be appropriate to comment on the detail of the security arrangements in place, the Deputy can be assured that all measures necessary and consistent with the law will be taken to protect the State and the people from harm. Additionally, the Deputy should also be aware that community Gardaí liaise proactively with minority groups from across all communities within the State, with a view to building trust and enhancing quality of life. Indeed their swift response to reassure minorities following the Christchurch attacks was widely welcomed by the entire community.

Legislative Measures

Questions (262)

Michael McGrath

Question:

262. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to revise legislation on the duty of care or negligence in the context of the ongoing insurance crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26270/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The matter raised by the Deputy generally arises in relation to section 3 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 which provides that an occupier of a premises owes a duty (“the common duty of care”) towards a visitor. Under the terms of that section, the common duty of care means a duty to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances (having regard to the care which a visitor may reasonably be expected to take for his or her own safety and, if the visitor is on the premises in the company of another person, the extent of the supervision and control the latter person may reasonably be expected to exercise over the visitor's activities) to ensure that a visitor to the premises does not suffer injury or damage by reason of any danger existing thereon.

The issue of occupiers’ liability was considered by the Cost of Insurance Working Group as reflected in Chapter 6 of its Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance published in 2018. The Report notes that the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 draws a distinction between three categories of entrants, namely visitors, recreational users and trespassers. Visitors are owed the greatest duty of care. Visitors were the most relevant category of entrants for the purposes of the Working Group's Report as those present in a business premises tend to be customers of the occupier or to be other persons present at the occupier’s invitation or by virtue of a contract.

The Report notes that the Working Group, in considering this matter, reviewed relevant case law and found that there are many examples of cases which are dismissed on liability grounds as no evidence of negligence is put forward to substantiate the claim. Accordingly, the Working Group, whose Legal Sub-Group also considered these matters, decided that it could not make a recommendation on the issue. At the same time, the Working Group considered that the insurance industry needs to give greater recognition to improvements made in health and safety practice by businesses by way of lower premiums where warranted.

The duty of care imposed by section 3 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act is also a matter for the courts and was, for example, recently considered by the Court of Appeal (Byrne v Ardenheath Company Ltd.) The Court of Appeal highlighted the need for the courts to bring ordinary common sense to bear on their assessment of what should amount to reasonable care and outlined various factors which may be considered by a trial judge when analysing whether an occupier may be said to have complied with his or her obligation to provide reasonable care for a visitor to its premises, including the probability of an accident occurring, the likely gravity of the injury that might result or the cost of eliminating the risk.

The court stated that section 3(2) of the Occupiers Liability Act makes clear that the occupier is entitled, when deciding what steps it should take to comply with its obligation, to assume that its visitors will take all reasonable care for their own safety and the occupier is entitled to take into account that an adult normally can look after his or her welfare.

Clearly, these are matters that deserve, and are being given, careful consideration and expression by way of balancing those rights conferred by law and protected under the Constitution, including as appropriate to the interests of the parties concerned and any duty of care that may arise. As such, they have been given detailed and balanced consideration by the Cost of Insurance Working Group and its Legal Sub-Group. They are also matters that are, as I have outlined, being taken into independent consideration by the judiciary in relevant proceedings before the courts.

In addition, a range of actions are now being taken by the Government on foot of the work of the Cost of Insurance Working Group to more effectively prevent and penalise insurance fraud so as to provide additional protections for those who may owe a duty of care under the terms of the Occupiers Liability Act 1995. There are no proposals, therefore, being considered by the Government at present to change the existing legislation in this area.

Court Accommodation Provision

Questions (263)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

263. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for Tralee courthouse, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26280/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made. I have been advised by the Courts Service that one of the objectives of its provincial capital building programme is to provide improved court accommodation in Tralee. This is one of a number of provincial city/county town venues nationwide still requiring new or upgraded courthouse accommodation. Collectively, these venues will be the next priority for investment in courthouse facilities outside the capital.

The Courts Service has advised that it envisages a courthouse comprising four courtrooms and related facilities to include consultation rooms, custody facilities, facilities for juries and vulnerable witnesses, and legal practitioner’s suites designed to meet current and future needs in Tralee. This will require a building significantly larger than the existing courthouse on Ashe Street where the scope for refurbishing and development is extremely limited due to the nature of the building and the constrained nature of the site.

A number of options for Tralee Courthouse are currently being considered including the level of extension and refurbishment achievable within the confines of the existing courthouse site; whether it would be feasible to acquire an adjacent town centre site, and the degree of extension and refurbishment this would allow. Previous efforts to acquire adjacent sites on Ashe Street have not been successful as the purchase prices sought for relevant sites were such that they could not represent value for money for the taxpayer.

A further option is to build a new modern courthouse on a greenfield/brownfield site, and I understand a number of potential sites are being considered.

The Courts Service has also advised that discussions with Kerry County Council are ongoing regarding the future provision of court facilities in Tralee. However, no decision has been made and all options are under review.

Courts Service Data

Questions (264)

Michael McGrath

Question:

264. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of judgments sought in each year since 2011 by unregulated loan owners, retail credit firms and banks with regard to farm related debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26309/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that courts statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information sought by the Deputy. The Courts Service has advised that it is not in a position to identify the proceedings referred to by the Deputy without the manual examination of all individual court files which would require the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources.

Immigration Status

Questions (265)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

265. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for stamp 4 in the case of a person (details supplied); when a decision is likely to issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26318/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that it received an application for permission to reside in this State from the person concerned under the Special Scheme for Students 2005 to 2010 on 23 October 2018. The Deputy will appreciate that applications are dealt with in chronological order. I understand that INIS will be in contact with the person concerned in early July.

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.

Direct Provision System

Questions (266)

Robert Troy

Question:

266. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the safety measures in place to protect former residents of direct provision centres who have gained employment but whose employment has since expired (details supplied). [26382/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) provide material reception conditions (accommodation and related services) to people in the international protection process that do not have sufficient means to do so. This is done in line with the European (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018.

Although RIA is currently experiencing significant increased demand for services, the State offers accommodation to all of those who have arrived in Ireland to seek protection while in the protection process. This also includes people who may have left accommodation or have never previously sought assistance with accommodation as they may have originally decided to stay with family or friends in the community. There is no obligation on anyone to accept the offer of accommodation and there is no restriction on the freedom of movement of applicants throughout the State.

People in the international protection process can choose to re-enter RIA accommodation by contacting RIA directly on their dedicated phone line (01-4183200) or email address (ria_inbox@justice.ie). While they will be accommodated, there is no guarantee that they will return to the accommodation that they originally resided in due to the lack of capacity within centres.

This lack of capacity is due to an increase in the number of people applying for protection in recent years and the large number of people with an international protection status or a permission to remain who continue to live in RIA accommodation.

Immigrant Investor Programme Applications

Questions (267)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

267. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26383/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person in question made an application under the Immigrant Investor Application on 24th May 2019 and is in the initial processing stage.

Successful applicants under the Immigrant Investment Programme and their nominated family members may be granted a residence permission in Ireland under Stamp 4 conditions. Stamp 4 conditions permit non-EEA nationals to work, study or start their own businesses in Ireland. Therefore, given the significant immigration benefits accruing and to ensure the highest degree of transparency and accountability for the programme, it is essential that all applications are subject to enhanced levels of due diligence processes in respect of both personal and financial checks to protect the State's interests.

The INIS expects that, in 2019, processing times for applications will be between 6-9 months. I am advised that timeframe compares very favourably to international peers, some of whom operate a decision-making framework of between 12 and 24 months.

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.

Freedom of Information Requests

Questions (268)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

268. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of freedom of information requests granted, part granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information in 2018, in tabular form. [26396/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department received 827 Freedom of Information requests in 2018. The table below indicates the number of requests granted, part-granted, refused, transferred to another public body, withdrawn or handled outside the ambit of the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

In addition to the breakdown provided to the Deputy, I have included columns to reflect numbers carried forward from 2017.

Cases carried forward from 2017

Cases Rec'd 2018

Granted

Part - granted

Refused

Transferred

Withdrawn

Withdrawn & Handled outside the Act

Live Cases carried forward to 2019

125

827

235

302

201

4

48

63

99

Parental Leave

Questions (269)

Denis Naughten

Question:

269. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the extension of parental leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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

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

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

I can advise the Deputy that work is well advanced on drafting the legislation which will be brought to Government for approval shortly.

International Protection

Questions (270)

Robert Troy

Question:

270. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to make contact with a person (details supplied) who has recently been declared a refugee following a tribunal held by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal. [26415/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An applicant for international protection is awarded international protection, whether refugee status or subsidiary protection status, upon a declaration of status being issued from the Ministerial Decisions Unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). This is done on foot of a grant recommendation from the International Protection Office (IPO) or a decision of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) to set aside a refusal recommendation of the IPO. The Ministerial Decisions Unit processes recommendations received from the International Protection Office and decisions of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in chronological order based on the date the file is received in that Unit. Once the necessary due diligence has been carried out by the Ministerial Decisions Unit, a declaration of status will issue as soon as possible.

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

Garda Recruitment

Questions (271)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

271. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an exemption from the second language requirement can be provided to Garda applicants who are dyslexic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26420/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware competitions for recruitment to An Garda Síochána are governed by An Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013. Under these Regulations, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for recruitment to An Garda Síochána, and I, as Minister have no direct role in the matter.

The Regulations provide that all applicants must have a proven proficiency in two languages; one of which must be Irish or English. This requirement applies without discrimination to all candidates. Such competency may be proven by achieving the relevant grades in an Irish Leaving Certificate or for English or Irish through such assessments as set out by the Public Appointments Service. While two languages are required, applicants who do not possess proficiency in Irish but have a second language will be deemed eligible under the Regulations.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS), on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, manages the initial recruitment stages for selection of Garda Trainees and I, as Minister, have no direct involvement in the matter. I have, however, been informed that PAS, which conducts tests as part of the competitive selection process, carefully considers all requests for reasonable accommodations. In considering such requests, PAS is conscious of the rights of people with disabilities and of the obligations on it to observe those rights and to act in accordance with the provisions of the relevant equality legislation.

As a public body established under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004, PAS is also obliged under section 34(1)(b) of that Act to ensure that “standards of probity, merit, equity and fairness” apply to all of its recruitment and selection work. These binding standards are set out in the Code of Practice for Appointment to Positions where the Garda Commissioner has Statutory Responsibility, as published by the Commission for Public Service Appointments.

I am further advised that in considering requests for reasonable accommodations, PAS has a fundamental duty to ensure it is being fair to all candidates who have entered a particular competition and that the key principle of appointment on merit is being observed. To assist PAS in considering a request for accommodations in a fair and balanced way, its policy is to ask candidates to indicate on their application if they require special accommodations and to submit evidence in support of their request. PAS will consider letters or reports from relevant professionals which clearly indicate the nature of the disability and the type of accommodation(s) that may be relevant to the person. PAS has given additional time to people with dyslexia where they have supporting evidence. However, having made reasonable accommodations, candidates must reach the required standard in order to be considered for further progression in a competition.

In December 2018 the Government endorsed the key recommendations contained within the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and published ‘A Policing Service for the Future’ – the implementation plan for the Commission’s report, this includes the recommendations in relation to the reform of recruitment into An Garda Síochána in order to increase the diversity of the organisation.

The Deputy will agree that it is vital that the Commissioner continues to recruit candidates with the appropriate qualifications to An Garda Síochána, and that best practice continues to be followed with regard to any such recruitment. I welcome and support the Commissioner’s commitment to increasing the diversity of the members and staff of An Garda Síochána to reflect the twenty first century Ireland it serves. This will ensure that An Garda Síochána maintains its strong bond with the diverse communities it serves. The recommendations of the Commission will take time to implement, and any proposal to amend the Recruitment and Admission regulations, including the language requirement will require consideration and consultation with a number of interested parties.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (272)

Seán Haughey

Question:

272. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on recent changes made to the work permit regime by which a locum doctor can work 90 days in the State but must then leave the jurisdiction for 30 days before being permitted to apply for a new work permit after that; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that it takes up to 30 working days to process a new work permit application resulting in a situation in which a locum doctor ends up working much reduced days annually which puts pressure on general practitioner services generally; his plans to make changes to the work permit regime in view of these circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26470/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Atypical immigration permissions are specifically designed to cover short term employments in the State and there are alternative options available for longer term employment through the work permit regime of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Accordingly, it is not intended that a person with an Atypical permission would roll over their permission thus circumventing the work permit regime and for this reason the person concerned is required to leave the State at the end of their permission.

The policy responsibility relating to the use of locum doctors in the Primary Care Sector is primarily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The role of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is to provide immigration mechanisms by which non-EEA medical personnel may be recruited to fill temporary vacancies in the health sector as and when required. I am advised that there have been no amendments made to these terms since they were first published on the INIS website, in July 2015.

Under the terms of the current arrangements doctors undertaking locum work may be granted a ‘block’ 90-day permission for the duration of their 90-day contract. Exit from and re-entry into the State is not permitted during this 90-day period. The terms of the Scheme also state that at least one month must elapse from the expiry date of the 90 day permission before a new application may be made.

All applicants for the Atypical Working Scheme are advised that they must allow a minimum of 20 working days for the processing of their application from date of receipt. The average processing time for all applications made under the Atypical Working Scheme are processed in accordance with this 20 working day commitment. In cases where an application is submitted containing incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient information, or when clarification of matters raised is required, delays to this processing time are inevitable while awaiting a response from an applicant.

Garda Strength

Questions (273)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

273. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the size of the Garda traffic corps and An Garda Síochána for the past ten years; if gardaí from the general force are used in the traffic corps; the number deployed for this purpose in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26476/19]

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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. Garda management keeps this distribution under review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure optimum use is made of the resources.

In 2017 the Commissioner established the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau (GNRPB) to ensure a consistent approach to road safety and enforcement of road traffic legislation across the country. This is achieved through coordination of enforcement and development of policy based on research and analysis of statistics and by engaging in campaigns in partnership with other State Agencies.

Furthermore, the Divisional Garda Traffic Corps have been re-named Garda Road Policing Units, to reflect the role the Units will play in denying criminals the use of the roads network. In addition to the Roads Policing Units focusing on the lifesaver offences of speeding, seatbelts, mobile phones and driving under the influence, they will also focus on crime prevention and crime detection. Divisional Roads Policing Units will work closely with other Divisional units to target known criminals and to disrupt their activities through strict enforcement of road traffic legislation.

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, operational strategies and transfers applications, including welfare issues. When allocations are taking place, comprehensive consultation is carried out with Local Management during which all factors are taken into consideration. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.

The strength of the Roads Policing Units by Division, in each of the years 2009 to 31 April 2019 is available on my Department’s website through the link below.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/004_Roads_Policing_Unit_2009_to_April_2019.xlsx/Files/004_Roads_Policing_Unit_2009_to_April_2019.xlsx

The overall workforce strength of An Garda Síochána is available on my Department’s website through the link below.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/001_Garda_Workforce_Strength_2006_to_April_2019.xlsx/Files/001_Garda_Workforce_Strength_2006_to_April_2019.xlsx

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

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

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Questions (274)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

274. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter relating to the advertisements for the No Excuses campaign (details supplied). [26481/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy has indicated in the details supplied, the age of consent for certain sexual acts is 17 years of age in Ireland. This includes sexual intercourse, buggery, and other penetrative acts set out in section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act 1990. For other sexual activity, section 14 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935 applies. Under this section, it is not a defence to sexual assault on a person under 15 years of age that the person consented to the activity.

In addition, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 introduced a ‘proximity of age’ defence to the offence of engaging in a sexual act with a child under 17. This applies where the parties are over 15, there is less than 2 years between them, and the act was consensual and non-exploitative.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the scene referred to in the details supplied, within the advertisement for the ‘No Excuses’ awareness campaign on sexual harassment and sexual violence, was produced by the advertising agency awarded the contract for the campaign, following a rigorous planning period which included consultation on the campaign with my Department, campaign experts and non-Governmental organisations working in this area. The aim of this particular element of the advertisement is to portray a scene of sexual harassment, and possible sexual violence, in the context of a couple in a long term relationship.

I am also advised that the intention was to indicate that the couple were in a committed long term relationship using language referenced in everyday conversation. It was not intended to comment on the legality of any activity they may have engaged in when they were sixteen.

Domestic Violence Incidence

Questions (275)

Catherine Martin

Question:

275. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of domestic abuse-related offences reported to An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26579/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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

Domestic Violence

Questions (276)

Catherine Martin

Question:

276. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of convictions for domestic abuse-related offences recorded by An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26580/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided a report on the number of offences and the number of persons convicted for domestic violence by Court area between 1 January 2010 and 31 May 2019 (see attached).

The Courts Service has advised that data can only be provided where standard offence codes are used by prosecutors on Criminal Case Tracking System (CCTS).

The Courts Service has further advised that there may be cases that could have been prosecuted as assault which may have arisen out of domestic abuse incidents. However, such prosecutions cannot be identified by the Courts Service for the purpose of this report.

Table

Domestic Homicide

Questions (277, 278)

Catherine Martin

Question:

277. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of domestic homicides reported in each of the years 1996 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26581/19]

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Catherine Martin

Question:

278. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures put in place to improve the recording of domestic homicides by the Garda PULSE system in response to concerns raised at the 7 March 2018 meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26582/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 277 and 278 together.

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on the specific information sought by the Deputy. I have also sought their views on measures to improve the recording of domestic homicides on the PULSE system and I will contact the Deputy again when the response is to hand.

The Deputy will be aware that the Domestic Violence Act 2018 is a landmark piece of legislation which significantly enhanced the legal protections available to victims of this appalling form of violence. I was pleased to commence all of the provisions of the Act on 1 January last, including the innovative provision which created a new offence of coercive control which recognises the psychological abuse aspect of domestic violence.

On 14 May I announced that my Department was commissioning an independent specialist in-depth research study focussing on two distinct pillars:

1. the provision of supports to families who are victims of familicide;

2. international best practice in the conduct of Domestic Homicide Reviews.

I am very pleased that Ms. Norah Gibbons agreed to lead the study. Ms. Gibbons will be joined by a small team of experts and with administrative support provided by my Department. The study, on which initial work has started, will involve consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including State agencies, family members of victims and non-governmental organisations.

A public advertisement was placed in the national newspapers last week calling for submissions to the study and I would call on all interested parties, who can assist the work of this study, to make a submission to the study team at info@fsdhr.ie Interested parties can also request a meeting with the team by way of the same e-mail address.