Prison Service Strategies

Questions (342)

Jack Chambers

Question:

342. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is considering piloting the concept of a therapeutic community in the prison system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30869/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Irish Prison Service has advised me that the prison environment provides a unique opportunity to support individuals in managing their addiction to drugs and alcohol and to provide rehabilitation.

The Irish Prison Service is currently developing a new Drugs Strategy which is reviewing measures to prevent drugs getting into prisons and changing patterns of illicit drug use. The Irish Prison Service in conjunction with The Probation Service commissioned a 'Review of Drug and Alcohol Treatment services for Adult Offenders in Prison and in the Community' the recommendations of which will form a key component of the new Drugs Strategy.

The development of a Therapeutic Community will remain a key element of the Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan 2019 – 2022. The Irish Prison Service considers this initiative as one of primary importance in addressing addiction in the prison population. It would represent a positive addition to collaboration which exists between the Irish Prison Service and the Health Service Executive in addressing addiction.

However, the development of a Therapeutic Community on a pilot basis requires the availability of sufficient resources. The Irish Prison Service has sought the agreement of the Department of Health to jointly seek funding as part of the upcoming 2020 estimates process.

Project Ireland 2040 Implementation

Questions (343)

Jack Chambers

Question:

343. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capital projects which have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; when these projects will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30890/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the following capital projects under the remit of my Department and Agencies have been delayed under Project Ireland 2040:

Justice : Forensic Science Laboratory

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is managing the Forensic Science Laboratory Project, on behalf of my Department.  The OPW advised that, due to the complexity of ISO standard (14644-1) for Cleanrooms and Associated Controlled Environments, it was necessary to add further material to the tender documentation for the main contract. As a result the timelines for issuing the tender documentation had to be revised.  

The Forensic Science Laboratory project has incurred expenditure in 2017 and 2018 in relation to site clearance and preparation works.  Tender submissions for the main contract are due to be received in the coming weeks.

I have requested that relevant agencies under the remit of my Department, and operating under a separate Vote structure (An Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service) respond directly to the Deputy. 

Project Ireland 2040 Implementation

Questions (344)

Jack Chambers

Question:

344. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capital projects which have commenced under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30923/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the following capital projects under the remit of my Department and Agencies have commenced under Project Ireland 2040:

Justice: Forensic Science Laboratory

Justice: Baseline Capital   

I have requested that relevant agencies under the remit of my Department, and operating under a separate Vote structure (An Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service) respond directly to the Deputy. 

Project Ireland 2040 Expenditure

Questions (345)

Jack Chambers

Question:

345. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if expenditure estimates for capital projects under Project Ireland 2040 under the remit of his Department and agencies match projected cost requirements in tabular from; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30969/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the following capital projects under the remit of my Department and Agencies are included in Project Ireland 2040:

Justice: Forensic Science Laboratory

Justice: Baseline Capital

Forensic Science Laboratory

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is managing the Forensic Science Laboratory Project, on behalf of my Department.  The OPW advised that, due to the complexity of ISO standard (14644-1) for Cleanrooms and Associated Controlled Environments, it was necessary to add further material to the tender documentation for the main contract. As a result the timelines for issuing the tender documentation had to be revised.  

The Forensic Science Laboratory project has incurred expenditure of €1.3m and €1.4m in 2017 and 2018 respectively, in relation to site clearance and preparation works.  As the issuing of tender documentation has been delayed, expenditure is behind that originally profiled. Tender submissions for the main contract are due to be received in the coming weeks and information in relation to tender pricing is commercially sensitive.

Baseline Capital

The Baseline Capital refers to the Department's annual capital allocation of €0.35m, principally for ICT capital costs, in line with projected cost requirements. 

I have requested that relevant agencies under the remit of my Department, and operating under a separate Vote structure (An Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service) respond directly to the Deputy. 

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (346)

Barry Cowen

Question:

346. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of capital projects being undertaken by his Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31079/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no capital projects being undertaken by my Department at present. I have requested that relevant Agencies under the remit of my Department and operating under a separate Vote structure (Courts Service, Prison Service and An Garda Síochana) respond directly to the Deputy.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Questions (347)

Barry Cowen

Question:

347. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31095/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there were no capital projects more than €5m completed by my Department since 2010. I have requested that relevant Agencies under the remit of my Department and operating under a separate Vote structure (Courts Service, Prison Service and An Garda Síochana) respond directly to the Deputy.

Courts Service Data

Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 321.

Questions (348)

Michael McGrath

Question:

348. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of court cases in each year since 2014 in which it has been shown that the claimant has made a fraudulent claim; the number of times per year the judge has referred the person to the Director of Public Prosecutions as specified in the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31101/19]

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.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that section 25 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that it is an offence for a person to give or adduce evidence in a personal injuries action that is false or  misleading and that the person knows to be false or misleading, or to cause false or misleading evidence to be given or adduced with the intention of misleading the court. It is also an offence  for a person to give false or misleading instructions or information to a solicitor or expert in  relation to a personal injuries action or to cause false or misleading instructions or information to be given with the intention of misleading the court.

The Courts Service has advised that Courts Service statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the information requested by the Deputy. The Deputy will be aware that the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance by the Cost of Insurance Working Group recognised the data challenges in establishing the number of initial complaints and investigations through to the resultant cases of prosecutions and convictions relating to fraud within the personal injuries area and the Report made recommendations to address this matter. 

While the Courts Service was consulted in respect of recommendation 12 to commence producing statistics on prosecutions and convictions relating to fraud within the personal injuries area, it was considered that the addition of a specific Insurance Fraud category on the PULSE system would allow for the production of such statistics and consequently it was agreed that these statistics would be provided by An Garda Síochána rather that the Courts Service as originally envisaged.  

I am informed that while technical issues arose with the introduction of a new "insurance fraud" category on the PULSE system, these issues have now been resolved and the collection of statistics under the new category has commenced.

The most recent figures provided to me by An Garda Síochána show that, in the period 1 November 2018 to end May 2019, 50 incidents of insurance fraud were recorded on PULSE. This equates to just over seven reports per month, with 1 November 2018 being the date on which a new category for "insurance fraud" went live on PULSE. 50% of these incidents related to staged collisions.

It is important to note that the aforementioned figures refer to reports being made to An Garda Síochána in the respective timeframe. Many of the alleged incidents reported during that period are historical in nature and occurred outside of the reporting timeframe. 

It is also important to note that, while all incidents come under the umbrella of the "insurance fraud" category, not all of them relate to fraudulent insurance claims. For example, incidents of forged 'no claims bonus' documents, while being an insurance fraud, does not necessarily relate to an insurance claim. 

Finally, An Garda Síochána have stressed that the data is correct as at 6 June 2019.  However as it is operational data it is, therefore, subject to change. 

Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 321.

Garda Investigations

Questions (350)

Brendan Smith

Question:

350. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the further progress regarding the need for a full and comprehensive investigation here and in Northern Ireland into the bombing in Belturbet, County Cavan, in December 1972 which caused the death of two young persons and injuries to many others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31173/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The murder of two innocent young people in Belturbet in December 1972  was an appalling act of brutality.  The perpetrators of this bombing demonstrated a callous disregard for human life which, as the Deputy has stated, claimed two lives and injured many other people. 

The Deputy will be aware that this crime was methodically investigated by An Garda Síochána at the time, with technical assistance from the Defence Forces and the close cooperation of the authorities in Northern Ireland.  It is a source of great regret that, in spite of a comprehensive investigation, it was not possible for those responsible to be prosecuted for their crimes.  In the absence of justice, the bombing of Belturbet continues to inflict an intolerable suffering on the families of those who died and those who were injured. 

As I previously informed the Deputy in my response to his question of 6 February, the passage of 45 years and the absence of new evidence being produced has diminished the prospect of a successful prosecution in this case.  Nonetheless, the Garda investigation remains open and any new information or evidence will be thoroughly investigated both in Ireland and in Northern Ireland with the assistance of the PSNI.  I would call on anyone with information about this crime to bring it to the attention of the Garda authorities. 

Human Rights Cases

Questions (351)

Niall Collins

Question:

351. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when his Department first learned of the case of a person (details supplied); the actions his Department has taken on this matter and to facilitate this person's return here; the progress made to date in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31197/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, these are very sensitive matters and it is the long standing policy of my Department not to comment publicly on the details of any individual case or the arrangements that may be put in place.

The provision of consular assistance to Irish citizens abroad is the responsibility of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

I along with my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, continue to monitor the situation and the authorities here will continue to work closely with their international partners in this regard.

Coroners Service

Questions (352)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

352. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the coroner service holds data for the number of young children and teenagers ruled to have died in the past five years as a result of eating disorders; and if so, if the information will be provided. [31218/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department, as required by the Coroners Act 1962, publishes annual statistics in respect of the primary work of coroners in the various jurisdictions throughout the country. 

These statistics concern the number of deaths reported, the number of post-mortem examinations directed and the number of inquests heard by each coroner. This information is publicly available on the corners website at www.coroners.ie.

Statistics on the types of death requested by the Deputy are not held by my Department.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (353)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

353. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of 50,100 and 200 Garda recruits in each of the years 2019 to 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31303/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

There has been an unprecedented level of investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years. The budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 amounts to €1.76 billion, which includes provision for sustained recruitment to An Garda Síochána this year.

The Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment and training of personnel.  Further, the allocation of Garda resources and distribution of personnel are a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

I am pleased to say that recruitment of Garda members and staff is ongoing. Since the beginning of 2017, just under 500 new Garda staff posts have been sanctioned by the Policing Authority with the consent of my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The Government provided funding in Budget 2019 to sustain continued recruitment into An Garda Síochána and, as part of this recruitment, the Commissioner decided to recruit a net 600 Garda Staff this year, which will facilitate the ongoing programme of civilianisation in An Garda Síochána and allow for redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to frontline policing duties by the end of this year. This fully reflects the Governments’ continuing support for the Commissioner in reaching the target of 4,000 Garda staff by 2021.

From information provided to me by the Garda authorities, I understand that the current estimated full year cost of employing 50 newly attested Gardaí is €2,206,580; the current cost of employing 100 newly attested Gardaí is €4,413,160, and the current cost of employing 200 newly attested Gardaí is €8,826,320.  This estimate includes basic salary (at the first point on the Garda pay scale), fixed allowances, an estimate of variable allowances which newly attested Gardaí may qualify for depending on their assignments and employer’s PRSI. This estimate does not include any payments made to trainee Gardaí while attending the Garda training college for 32 weeks, nor does it include the impact of any pay increases this year (including the 1.75% pay rise scheduled for 1 September 2019) or in the years to 2022 as referred to by the Deputy.

Garda Civilian Staff Recruitment

Questions (354)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

354. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of recruiting an additional 100 civilian staff to An Garda Síochána. [31304/19]

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, as well as capital investment amounting to € 92 million this year.

The Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment and training of personnel.  Further, the allocation of Garda resources and distribution of personnel are a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

I am pleased to say that recruitment of Garda members and staff is ongoing. Since the beginning of 2017, just under 500 new Garda staff posts have been sanctioned by the Policing Authority with the consent of my Department and that of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Government provided funding in Budget 2019 to sustain continued recruitment into An Garda Síochána and, as part of this recruitment, the Commissioner decided to recruit a net 600 Garda staff this year, which will facilitate the ongoing programme of civilianisation in An Garda Síochána and allow for the redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to frontline policing duties by the end of this year. This fully reflects the Government's continuing support for the Commissioner in reaching the target of 4,000 Garda staff by 2021.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 May 2019, there were approximately 2,700 Garda staff undertaking administrative, professional, technical and industrial support duties.

I am further informed that such staff positions range from clerical support and financial management functions to specialised roles in HR, IT and telecommunications, as well as finance and procurement, internal audit, communications, research and analysis, accommodation, scene-of-crime support and legal and medical services.  Large numbers of Garda staff also work in operational areas including the Garda Central Vetting Bureau, the Garda Information Service Centre, the Fixed Charge Processing Office and the Command and Control Centre.

Bearing in mind this broad range of duties, I am advised by the Garda authorities that the estimated cost of employing 100 Garda staff would be approximately €4,500,000, on the basis of an average estimated cost per civilian employee of approximately €45,000, including employer costs such as PRSI.

Garda Reserve

Questions (355)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

355. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of increasing the Garda Reserve by 50, 100 and 1,000 members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31305/19]

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, in addition to a capital allocation of € 92 million this year.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including arranging for the recruitment and training of personnel.  Further, the allocation of Garda resources and distribution of personnel are a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

The Garda Reserve is an invaluable operational resource for An Garda Síochána with Reserve members working alongside Garda members to protect and serve their local communities. In line with commitments outlined under A Policing Service for the Future, a training class of approximately 100 Garda Reserves commenced training in the Garda College in March 2019. The strength of the Garda Reserve as of 31 May 2019, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 491.

I am advised that an allowance is payable to Reserve members who complete a minimum of 208 hours duty annually as a contribution towards expenses incurred in performing their duties. This allowance is currently set at €1,000 per annum. Reserves are also reimbursed for expenses incurred while attending court in respect of their service as a Reserve.

As such, I am advised by the Garda authorities that the estimated cost of increasing the Garda Reserve by 50 members is €50,000, by 100 members is €100,000 and by 1,000 members is €1,000,000.

Garda Resources

Questions (356)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

356. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of establishing a Garda fraud unit. [31306/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB, formerly known as the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation) has been established since 1995. The remit of the GNECB includes playing a pro-active role in the prevention and detection of fraud, and acting as a central repository for fraud related intelligence and therefore the GNECB effectively houses the Garda fraud unit.

In relation specifically to insurance fraud investigation, which has been discussed on a number of recent occasions in this House, I have previously outlined how the Garda Commissioner is of the view that a divisional focus on insurance fraud is preferable to the establishment of a centralised insurance fraud investigation unit.

The Deputy will no doubt be aware of Deputy Commissioner John Twomey's appearance in front of the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on 9th July. At the Committee, the Deputy Commissioner clearly set out the organisation's plans for fraud investigation:

"At meetings between Commissioner Harris and Minister D’Arcy, both parties were agreed that private funding of a specialist insurance fraud unit was not the preferred option...

Commissioner Harris has also informed the Minister that in line with the overall Garda strategy, GNECB will focus on major organised frauds including insurance cases and individual insurance frauds will be dealt with at divisional level. This is in line with the greater emphasis on divisional-led policing as outlined in the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. This divisional-led approach is currently being trialled as part of our four Divisional Policing Model pilots."

Deputy Commissioner Twomey went on to state:

"The Commissioner believes that it is important that there is sufficient expertise at divisional level to deal with individual frauds. Each division already has a number of Gardaí trained in fraud investigation and 50 more will be trained this year. The resource requirement for each Division will be different and will depend on the number of crimes reported and requiring investigation. Further  resources – 6 Sergeants and 6 Gardaí - have also recently been provided to GNECB to assist in all areas of fraud investigation. It is anticipated that a competition for positions in GNECB will commence in the second half of this year. 

In the meantime, An Garda Síochána continues to develop in-house expertise in investigating insurance-related fraud. All Detective Gardaí and Detective Sergeants receive fraud training. In addition, since 2016, 132 Gardaí have been trained in the investigation of fraud and e-crime investigation at University College Dublin."

I trust this information provides a clear picture of the An Garda Síochána's plans to tackle insurance fraud across the State.

Garda Operations

Questions (357)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

357. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has received information from An Garda Síochána regarding the rising level of reported murder threats as detailed by the Central Statistics Office; the findings of the work of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31307/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am aware of reports in the media in recent days, and of the details contained in the most recent CSO crime statistics, regarding an increase in the reported incidents of threats to murder.

The increases are not confined to just one area of the country, but are across all Garda regions. 

I am of course concerned at the increase.

I note that there have been substantial increases in areas that are experiencing gang and family feud-related violence. There have been increases in threats to murder in Dublin North, Louth, Limerick and Dublin West. However, as the Deputy is well aware, there are a number of targeted Garda Operations currently ongoing to tackle the threat of serious, violent criminals and Gardaí are currently finalising a strategy to tackle serious assaults against the person.

While there has been a substantial increase in the number of threats to murder over the last 5 years, I note the yearly decrease of 14.3% in incidents of homicide - down from 84 incidents to the end of Q1 2018 to 72 incidents at the end of Q1 2019. It is also worth highlighting that Gardaí have prevented a number of potential homicides, in many cases almost immediately before they were about to be carried out, in recent years through targeted policing operations and I commend them for their ongoing vigilance and bravery in this regard.

To be of assistance to the Deputy, and to address my own concerns, I have also sought the views of the Garda Commissioner on this matter and will contact the Deputy directly once a response has been received.

Garda Transport Data

Questions (358)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

358. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 238 and 239 of 16 April 2019, the status of the cost and the number of vehicles hired by An Garda Síochána in 2019. [31308/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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, including the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources.   

I have requested the relevant information from the Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when I receive it.

Legislative Programme

Questions (359)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

359. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Bills in his Department undergoing drafting; the drafting status of each Bill; the Government Bills for which amendments are being drafted; the Private Members' Bills for which amendments are undergoing drafting and which have passed Committee Stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31309/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be very familiar with the various stages which legislation goes through prior to its enactment as law, its progress being dependent on various factors, including the cooperation of Members of these Houses.

My colleague the Chief Whip outlined earlier today the significant progress made on the legislative programme during the current Dáil term, with 34 Bills either enacted to date or due to pass both Houses of the Oireachtas by the end of this week. This includes 13 Acts or Bills sponsored by my Department.

A further Bill, the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 remains before the Oireachtas having completed Committee Stage on 30th January.

In addition to this, the following Bills are currently being drafted in consultation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel:

- Communications (Data Retention and Disclosure) Bill

- Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing)(Amendment) Bill

- Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Decisions on Supervision Measures) Bill

- Criminal Justice Bill

- Criminal Records (Exchange of Information) Bill

- Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill

- Criminal Procedure Bill

- European Convention on Human Rights (Compensation for delays in Court proceedings) Bill

- Sex Offenders (Amendment) Bill

- Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Amendment) Bill

- Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences (PMB) Bill 2017

- Transfer of Sentenced Persons and Transfer of Execution of Sentences Bill

- Landlord and Tenant Law Reform Bill

- Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

- Explosives Bill

- Parental Leave and Benefit Bill.

Direct Provision Data

Questions (360)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

360. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision accommodation centres between the end of December 2018 and the end of June 2019, by centre and month in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31310/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The statistical data requested by the Deputy is contained in tabular excel spreadsheets at the following link:

Occupancy

The Deputy should note that a further 988 persons are currently accommodated in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses. 

Direct Provision Data

Questions (361)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

361. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reported capacity of each direct provision centre at the end of June 2019, in tabular form; the reported capacity of each direct provision centre in January 2018; if works to increase capacity have taken place; and if so, the nature of the works. [31311/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In January and again in September of 2018, the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department published a call in the national press for expressions of interest from potential contractors to meet the increasing demand for accommodation for persons in the protection process. The criteria against which the Department assessed the offers of accommodation were availability, standard of property, ability to provide communal social spaces for residents, ability to cater at mealtimes and proximity to various other services. 

Seven new accommodation centres were opened following those calls for expressions of interest.

Simultaneously, staff in my Department worked with existing accommodation providers to identify additional capacity in existing centres.  This involved the identification of additional or unused areas within a centre by centre staff, followed by upgrade or refurbishment works by the centre operator to ensure that all any new accommodation provided met statutory requirements and then final approval of the increase in capacity by the Department.  This process was ongoing during 2018. 

In August 2018, my Department, in conjunction with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), commenced a series of regional Requests for Tender (RFT) competitions for accommodation and other services for persons seeking international protection.  To date, seven such competitions have been held.  Two are complete and the remainder are underway.  Additional capacity was also identified as part of those competitions.  As the results of some of the competitions have yet to be published, the identity of those premises remains confidential.

Tabular information on the capacity of centres is as follows:

Centre Name 

 County

 Capacity 7th January 2018

Capacity 30th June 2019 

 Knockalisheen

 Clare

 250

 250

 King Thomond Hotel*

 Clare

 

 115

 Ashbourne House

 Cork

 95

 95

 Davis Lane*

 Cork

 

 52

 Kinsale Road

 Cork

 275

 299

 Glenvera

 Cork

 119

 130

 Millstreet

 Cork

 250

 304

 Clonakilty Lodge

 Cork

 110

 110

 Georgian Court**

 Dublin

 110

 

The Towers

 Dublin

 225

 250

 Hatch Hall

 Dublin

 215

 220

 Watergate House**

 Dublin

 68

 

Eglinton Hotel

Galway

 200

 210

 Great Western House

 Galway

 162

 162

 Atlas House Killarney

 Kerry

 90

 90

 Atlas House Tralee

 Kerry

 100

 100

 Johnson Marina

 Kerry

 90

 90

 Linden House

 Kerry

 57

 57

 Park Lodge

Kerry

 55

 55

 Atlantic Lodge*

 Kerry

 

 98

 The Hazel Hotel*

 Kildare

 

 143

Eyre Powell

 Kildare

 87

 152

 The Montague Hotel

 Laois

 202

 202

 Hibernian Hotel*

 Laois

 

 63

 Hanratty's Hotel

 Limerick

 118

 118

 Mount Trenchard

 Limerick

 85

 85

 Richmond Court

 Longford

 80

 80

 Carroll Village

 Louth

 60

 60

 The Old Convent

 Mayo

 245

 245

 Mosney

 Meath

 600

 600

 St. Patrick's

 Monaghan

 175

 212

 Globe House

 Sligo

 215

 218

 Bridgewater House

 Tipperary

 115

 161

 Atlantic House

Waterford

82

82

Ocean View

Waterford

100

100

Birchwood House

 Waterford

 145

 145

 Viking House

 Waterford

 81

 81

 The Grand Hotel*

 Wicklow

 

 111

 Temple*

 Westmeath

 

 100

 Athlone

 Westmeath

 300

 300

* denotes new accommodation centre opened between January 2018 and June 2019

** denotes accommodation centre closed between January 2018 and June 2019 

Direct Provision Data

Questions (362)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

362. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of young persons under 18 years of age in direct provision not attending school. [31312/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

While an international protection claim is being examined, the Reception and Integration Agency(RIA) offers accommodation and related services to anyone without means. The Department of Education and Skills provides school places for children resident in the centres.

All children in Ireland, including children seeking international protection, can access pre-school, first and second level education in a manner similar to Irish nationals, until they have reached the age of 18 years.

Children residing in accommodation centres under contract to the Department of Justice and Equality to accommodate international protection applicants are provided with information and assistance regarding enrolment in local schools. The assistance of TUSLA Educational Welfare Service is sought where there are local difficulties in securing a school place.

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) does not maintain statistics on the school attendance of children residing in accommodation centres.

Direct Provision Data

Questions (363)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

363. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who have been refused accommodation in direct provision centres to date in 2019; the alternatives offered to such persons; and the length of time between refusal and their being offered accommodation. [31313/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

While an international protection claim is being examined, the Reception and Integration Agency(RIA) offers accommodation and related services to anyone without means.  There is no obligation on anyone to accept the offer of accommodation.

Accommodation is provided under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which came in to effect in June 2018.  No applicant for international protection has been refused accommodation in 2019.  Under the regulations listed above RIA may provide material reception conditions in accommodation other than that which is usually provided, where the accommodation capacity normally available is temporarily exhausted.

The pressure our accommodation system currently faces is clear. The Reception and Integration Agency is accommodating 6082 people in its 39 accommodation centres and a further 988 people are in emergency accommodation in hotels and guesthouses. The use of emergency accommodation is not ideal. However, we must ensure that each person arriving today to claim protection, with no advance warning, tonight has shelter, food and any urgent medical care required.  

In this context, RIA continues to seek additional capacity, including through the ongoing regional procurement process to minimise its use of emergency beds.

Direct Provision Data

Questions (364)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

364. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons living in direct provision who have taken up paid employment since the introduction of the limited right of asylum seekers to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31314/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

When an international protection applicant is issued with a labour market access permission under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 and takes up employment, the employer (or applicant in the case of self-employment), is obliged to inform the Minister for Justice and Equality within 21 days.  A standard form for this purpose is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department.

I am advised by the INIS that, based on the returned declaration forms received to date, a total of 1,267 applicants have indicated they have commenced employment or self-employment, of which 896 are living in Direct Provision.  As the employer or applicant has 21 days from the time they take up employment or self-employment to return the declaration form, there is likely to be a time lag between the actual date of commencement of employment and INIS being notified of same.

Departmental Communications

Questions (365)

Shane Cassells

Question:

365. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the oversight of his Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by his Department following these results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31329/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Different oversight arrangements apply in relation to circulars and other advices issued from time to time, typically by the Department of Finance or the Department of Personnel, Expenditure and Reform. These concern issues as diverse as financial management, human resources ICT expenditure, and the governance of State Bodies.

In appropriate cases, policy documents are drawn up and circulated to relevant staff, particularly concerning HR matters. In other cases, compliance is ensured in a range of different ways. For example, oversight of ICT expenditure is the responsibility if the Department's ICT Governance Group, whereas the Financial Management Unit of my Department monitors financial compliance through the budget management process.

 Compliance by agencies under the aegis of my Department with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies is ensured through regular, formal governance meetings, with arrangements being reviewed on an annual basis by a sub-group of the Department's Management Board.

Climate Change Policy

Questions (366)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

366. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and-or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31345/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility for Climate Action rests with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment who have published the Climate Action Plan 2019.  This Plan sets out an ambitious course of action over the coming years to address this issue.

Action 149 of the plan, which relates to deployment of electric vehicles in the public sector, includes a task for An Garda Síochána to assess the suitability of electric/hybrid vehicles as Ministerial vehicles.   I can confirm that the feasibility of the use of hybrid or electric vehicles is already under consideration within An Garda Síochána.  Garda management has confirmed to me that 2 electric vehicles were purchased in 2018, in order to evaluate the potential and limitations of electric vehicles in Garda operational environments on a pilot basis.  This pilot is ongoing.

In addition I can advise the Deputy that my Department is very active on climate action generally within the scope of its own administrative remit. An Energy Performance Forum has been established. It is chaired by the Energy Performance Officer (Assistant Secretary) with representation from across the Justice and Equality sector.  On the 9 January, the EPO wrote to the bodies operating under my Department's aegis, advising them of the Government Decision of 3 January to cease purchase , directly or indirectly, of certain single-use plastics, namely beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws. The purchase of new stocks of those items was ceased immediately. In addition, bodies were asked to provide details, by the end of November 2019, on the measures being taken to minimise waste generation and to maximise recycling.

My Department also recently launched a Green Team, which will be working to raise awareness among staff on environmental and sustainability issues generally, including the need to minimise waste and energy use and to maximise recycling. 

Furthermore my Department has developed a Resource Efficiency Action Plan in consultation with staff of the Department of Communication, Climate Action and the Environment. This sets out the measures being taken to reduce waste generation and to maximise recycling. It benchmarks energy, water and waste figures for 2018 for the Department's Headquarters and sets out plans for reducing energy use and waste generation across the whole Department.