Public Sector Allowances Eligibility

Questions (208)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

208. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30443/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The adjudication report referred to by the Deputy made provision for five Education Centre Directors to retain their secondment allowances on their return to school in 2018. The circumstances upon which the adjudication was based are explicitly unique to that cohort of Directors and are not applicable in respect of any other Education Centre Director.

Departmental Reports

Questions (209)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

209. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish the report commissioned by his Department regarding governance and accountability of education centres; the key recommendations contained in the report; the fee paid to a company (details supplied) to carry out the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30444/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Education Centres are independent statutory bodies under Section 37 of the Education Act (1998) and are managed by voluntary management committees elected annually.

My Department is the main funder of Education Centres through direct budget allocations for administrative staff pay and operating costs. The Education Centres also receive significant funding from the support services which are funded entirely by my Department for the purpose of designing and delivering continuing professional development courses and other professional support for teachers throughout the country.

My Department is currently progressing a programme of governance modernisation to complement and update the previous requirements that Education Centres were required to observe, and in line with a desire to continually improve the governance and accountability structure in the sector. This programme is being informed by the Mazars Review of the Department’s Governance, Funding and Accountability arrangements for Education Support Centres. The Mazars report has been circulated to all Education Centres. In addition, there have been developments in governance requirements for state funded bodies as outlined in the Code of Practice for State Bodies which need to be reflected in the sector.

A Steering Group has been established to lead on the development of a programme of actions for the modernisation of governance and accountability arrangements for Education Centres and to oversee its implementation. The work of this group is supported by an Implementation Group and a number of Working Groups.

With regard to the fee paid to Mazars, it would not be appropriate to release commercially sensitive information which may disadvantage either the contractors or the awarding authority in future mini competitions conducted under the OGP Framework in which Mazars was awarded the contract.

Education Centre Network

Questions (210)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

210. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will instruct a centre (details supplied) to publish a report commissioned in the governance of the centre which was undertaken by a company; the amount of financial backing supplied to the centre to fund the report; the key findings of the report; the recommendations and changes which have been made in the centre since; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30445/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Education Centres are independent statutory bodies under Section 37 of the Education Act (1998) and are managed by voluntary management committees elected annually.

My Department is the main funder of Education Centres through direct budget allocations for administrative staff pay and operating costs. The Education Centres also receive significant funding from the support services which are funded entirely by my Department for the purpose of designing and delivering continuing professional development courses and other professional support for teachers throughout the country.

In 2015, the Centre referred to by the Deputy reported an alleged financial irregularity to my Department. The matter was immediately referred to the Gardaí by Centre management. I can confirm that the Gardaí have conducted an investigation and the matter is currently before the courts.

As the process is ongoing I do not have any further comment to make at this time in relation to the specific matter.

With regard to Education Centres generally, my Department is progressing a programme of governance modernisation to complement and update the previous requirements that Education Centres are required to observe, and in line with a desire to continually improve the governance and accountability structure in the sector. This programme is being informed by the Mazars Review of the Department’s Governance, Funding and Accountability arrangements for Education Support Centres. In addition, with developments in governance requirements for state funded bodies as outlined in the Code of Practice for State Bodies which are been implemented in the sector.

A Steering Group has been established to lead on the development of a programme of actions for the modernisation of governance and accountability arrangements for Education Centres and to oversee its implementation. The work of this group is supported by an Implementation Group and a number of Working Groups.

Education Centre Network

Questions (211)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

211. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the accounts of a centre (details supplied) are not available on its website in view of the fact it is funded by taxpayers money and that his officials undertook to consider publishing education centres' annual accounts on websites as part of the governance modernisation programme; the number of the 21 centres that publish their accounts online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30446/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Education Centres are independent statutory bodies under Section 37 of the Education Act (1998) and are managed by voluntary management committees elected annually.

Under my Department’s governance and accountability arrangements, Centres are required to have their accounts audited and the audit report must be submitted along with the Centre’s annual report to the Department.

Education Centres are not currently required to publish their audited accounts on their website. Officials of my Department will consider the publication of Education Centres audited accounts as part of the governance modernisation programme that my Department is undertaking in respect of Education Centres.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (212)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

212. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the price paid to a company (details supplied) to carry out an audit on each of the 21 education centres on an annual basis since 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30447/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Education Centres are independent statutory bodies under Section 37 of the Education Act (1998) and are managed by voluntary management committees.

My Department is the main funder of Education Centres through direct budget allocations for administrative staff pay and operating costs. The Education Centres also receive significant funding from the support services which are funded entirely by my Department for the purpose of designing and delivering continuing professional development courses and other professional support for teachers throughout the country.

Under my Department’s governance and accountability arrangements, Centres are required to have their accounts audited and the audit report must be submitted along with the Centre’s annual report to the Department.

Following a competition conducted through the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), framework members who had previously qualified to form part of the OGP Framework for the provision of auditing services were contacted and Crowleys DFK Auditors was awarded the contract to undertake an external audit of the financial accounts of all Education Centres. This will provide assurances that all Centres are audited to a consistent standard in accordance with International Standards on auditing and adherence to generally Accepted Accounting Practices.

As the OGP framework under which the contract was awarded to Crowleys is still live, it would not be appropriate to release commercially sensitive information which may disadvantage either the contractor or the awarding authority in future mini competitions.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision

Questions (213)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

213. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a community council (details supplied) will have approval on the CCTV application that was submitted in February 2019. [30108/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI No 289 of 2006). This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,

- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also undertake to act as data controller and

- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes and these key legal requirements have not changed since 2006.

A grant aid scheme is administered by my Department to support proposed CCTV schemes which meet these legal requirements. I can confirm that my Department received a funding application from the community group referred to by the Deputy on 17 May of this year. The application has been assessed against the criteria of the grant aid scheme and my officials have recently reverted directly to the individuals concerned.

The grant aid scheme remains open for applications in 2019. I am keen to ensure that all interested groups which have secured the necessary legal approvals for community CCTV have the opportunity to take advantage of the availability of the grant aid scheme. Further details are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address communitycctv@justice.ie.

Garda Stations

Questions (214)

Niall Collins

Question:

214. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if plans are being considered to provide a new Garda station in an area (details supplied); the discussions which have taken place in respect of the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30109/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

An unprecedented budget of €1.76 billion has been allocated to An Garda Síochána in 2019. Very significant capital investment is also being made, amounting to € 92 million this year.

In terms of the estate, the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious programme based on agreed Garda priorities, which continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by significant Exchequer funding across the Garda and OPW Votes. Other major ongoing works to the Garda estate include the pilot Garda station reopening project, the development of a new facility at Military Road and the major refurbishment of Fitzgibbon Street station. The goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff, as well as the public interacting with them.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources made available to An Garda Síochána including 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. And the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation and as such, cooperates closely with the Garda authorities in delivery of Garda accommodation and works to the Garda estate.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Building and Refurbishment Programme, which is based on agreed Garda priorities, does not include plans for the development of a new Garda station at Citywest.

Overall Garda accommodation needs, including any potential need for a new station at any location, fall to be considered by An Garda Síochána in the context of the ongoing expansion of the Garda workforce and implementation of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (215)

Robert Troy

Question:

215. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if candidates in the Garda Reserve are prioritised for places in Templemore; and if not, if he will consider putting this in place. [30153/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of the Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members, reserve members and civilian staff.

Admission as a trainee to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013. The Public Appointments Service (PAS), on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, manages the initial recruitment stages for selection of Garda trainees. The final stages of the recruitment process in which candidates are vetted, and complete a physical competency test and a medical examination, are managed by the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct involvement in the matter.

The Regulations provide that special recognition may be given to Reserve members in the context of the selection process as they have undergone training in many of the skills required to be an effective full-time member of An Garda Síochána and have gained experience in operational policing. Since 2016, recruitment campaigns for An Garda Síochána have included special streams for eligible members of the reserve. To be eligible for the special Reserve stream, a reserve member is required to have completed their probation, performed their role to a satisfactory standard, and have served a minimum of 150 hours per year for two of the previous four years, as well as fulfilling the general Conditions for Entry. Applicants must be a member of the Garda Reserve at the time of appointment as a Garda Trainee to continue to be eligible under the Garda Reserve stream.

Garda Transport Data

Questions (216)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

216. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of four-wheel drive or all terrain Garda vehicles allocated to Kildare Garda division as of 31 December 2018 and 2 July 2019. [30165/19]

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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 a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that a total of €10 million has been made available for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019. I understand from the Garda authorities that this allocation will be used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year.

As the Deputy will appreciate, 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. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, 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.

The Garda authorities have informed me that the following table sets out the number of 4-wheel drive vehicles and all terrain vehicles allocated to Kildare Garda Division for the dates requested by the Deputy.

Kildare Division: 4-wheel drive and all terrain vehicles

4 x 4

*Others

Total

30 June 2019

3

3

6

31 December 2018

3

1

4

*The category 'others' generally refers to MPV, SUV, Minibus or Prisoner Conveyance Vehicles.

Departmental Shareholdings

Questions (217)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

217. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide details of all entities in which he or his Department hold shares; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30188/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Please be advised that there are no entities in which I, in my capacity as Minister for Justice and Equality, or my Department, holds shares.

Garda Transport Data

Questions (218)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

218. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new marked and unmarked Garda vans that came into the fleet to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30197/19]

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 a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that a total of €10 million has been made available for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019. I understand from the Garda authorities that this allocation will be used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year.

As the Deputy will appreciate, 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. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, 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.

The Garda authorities have informed me that as of 5 July 2019, 2 marked vans and 4 unmarked vans have been added to the fleet to date this year. I am advised by the Garda authorities that a further 13 marked vans are currently being fitted-out for operational use; and that an additional 15 vans have been ordered for delivery and fit-out during 2019. A decision will be made by Garda management in due course, based on operational needs, as to whether those vans will be marked or unmarked.