Legal Services Regulation

Questions (146)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

146. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if members of an authority (details supplied) are required to provide a tax clearance certificate under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 (as amended); if so, his views on same; his plans to take further action on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48113/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority, which is independent in the performance of its functions, comprises eleven members including a lay majority and a lay Chair whose names are put forward for nomination by ten nominating bodies prescribed in the Act to represent a balance of interests between legal service providers and those consumers who avail of their services. The members of the Authority are appointed from those nominees by the Government, a resolution approving such appointment having been passed by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.

Under this framework, the terms of membership of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority are governed by the relevant provisions set out in Part 2 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, particularly section 9 of the Act which sets out the relevant membership qualifications, criteria and procedures.

Beyond that, it would not be appropriate for me to comment specifically on the issue raised by the Deputy as I understand it concerns matters that are the subject of ongoing court proceedings and are, therefore, sub judice .

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (147)

Barry Cowen

Question:

147. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and Project Ireland 2040 since its publication in February 2018 by category (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48128/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that no expenditure was incurred by my Department on public relations, promotion or advertising for the National Development Plan 2018-2027 or Project Ireland 2040. 

Garda Strength

Questions (148)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

148. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the strength of An Garda Síochána at the latest stage of audit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48163/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for management of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources. This includes responsibility for deployment of personnel. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

A record €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019 and this is increasing to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. With the benefit of this sustained investment, An Garda Síochána is a growing organisation.

We currently have approximately 14,200 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,900 Garda staff. And as part of the Government’s plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, there is ongoing and increased recruitment both of new Gardaí as well as Garda staff, allowing for redeployment of Gardaí to operational duties at the front-line. Since the reopening of the Garda Training College in 2014, approximately 2,800 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties in communities throughout the country. Another 200 probationer Gardaí are due to attest at the end of this month.

A breakdown of Garda numbers is available on my Department’s website and is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. This information is available at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_September_2019.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_September_2019.xlsx

Information on Garda staff is available at the following link:

http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Staff

For more general information on the Garda workforce and additional Garda facts and figures, the Deputy may also wish to see the information on the links below:

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

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

Garda Data

Questions (149)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

149. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí available for duty in the past six months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48165/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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

A record €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to €92 million this year. I am pleased to have secured an overall increase of €122 million to increase An Garda Síochána's budget for 2020 to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for next year.

This investment is supporting the sustained growth of the organisation. We currently have approximately 14,200 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,900 Garda staff.

And as part of the Government’s plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, there is ongoing and increased recruitment both of new Gardaí as well as Garda staff, allowing for redeployment of Gardaí to operational duties at the front-line.

Since the reopening of the Garda Training College in 2014, approximately 2,800 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties in communities throughout the country. Another 200 probationer Gardaí are due to attest next week.

Further, the Garda Commissioner’s decision to recruit a net 600 Garda staff in 2019 will allow for the redeployment of approximately 500 experienced Gardaí to frontline and visible policing duties by the end of this year. The funding provided in Budget 2020 will also allow for the recruitment of up to 700 new Gardaí and additional Garda staff, the balance of which will be for the Commissioner to decide based on operational needs.

The information requested by the Deputy is available on my Department's website at

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

For more general information on Garda facts and figures, the Deputy may also wish to see the information on the link below:

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

Garda Data

Questions (150)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

150. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of women members of An Garda Síochána; the extent to which this number has fluctuated in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48166/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Commissioner that the total number of women in all ranks of An Garda Síochána as of the 31 October 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available was 3,807 or approximately 27 % of total Garda strength. This compares favourably with the total of 3,130 or 21.7% of the total strength on 31 December 2008.

For the Deputy's information the following table, as supplied to me by the Commissioner, sets out the number of women in An Garda Síochána over the past five years, as requested by the Deputy.

Year 

 2019 (at 31 October)

 2018

 2017

 2016

 2015

Number

 3807

 3759

 3592

 3392

 3324

*Figures as at 31 October 2019

As this table shows, the number of women in An Garda Síochána has steadily increased. This is particularly so in the last decade- the percentage of women in An Garda Síochána has risen from 18.5% in 2006 to just under 27% today.  I understand that this is above the European average.  In the same period, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of female superintendents, inspectors and sergeants has doubled in the organisation.

The Deputy may be interested to know that in the course of its work, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) held semi-structured focus group discussions with female Garda members to explore the experiences of female Garda personnel regarding their careers, training and development and future prospects. Among the recommendations made in the CoFPI report, which the Government adopted in December 2018, is the reform of the current roster and greater flexibility of work practices which would enhance the attractiveness and job satisfaction of a career in An Garda Síochána.

In addition, the report also recommended that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society, not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of socioeconomic, educational and geographical backgrounds and that they would need to develop recruitment strategies which reach a more diverse intake.

A concerted effort is being made to encourage women and minority communities to consider a career in An Garda Síochána so that its membership reflects the community that it serves. Recent recruitment campaigns have made a significant effort through online videos and other media to attract candidates from minority communities and diverse social groups. In the most recent recruitment campaign a series of videos and text were produced in multiple languages including English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. They were published on the Garda Facebook page which has more than 180,000 followers.

While the current number of women members in An Garda Síochána is broadly in line with the percentage of women in police services across England and Wales, there is clearly scope for further improvement.  I expect that the above steps being taken by An Garda Siochana will ensure that the membership of the organisation can evolve to more closely reflect the society that it serves.

Courts Service Data

Questions (151)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

151. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons male and female, respectively, on bail in respect one or more offences and repeat offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48167/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have made enquiries with the Courts Service in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy and I am advised that the information sought is not available in searchable format. Compiling the data requested would require manual examination of each court record, which would require a disproportionate use of resources.

More generally, I note that the decision to grant bail in any particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a Constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The Criminal Justice Act 2017 strengthens the operation of the bail system with the aim of making the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail.

Under the Act, a Court, in considering an application for bail, is required to have regard to persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and the nature and seriousness of any danger presented by the grant of bail to a person charged with an offence that carries a penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment or more. The Act also provides for the Court to have the power, in certain circumstances, to hear evidence from the victim of an alleged offence before a decision on bail is taken.

Where an accused person is granted bail, the Act provides for stricter bail terms for repeat serious offenders, strengthens Garda powers to deal with breaches of bail, increases the use of curfews, and, where requested by Gardaí, allows for the introduction of electronic tagging for those on bail in certain circumstances.

Missing Persons Data

Questions (152)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

152. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons listed as missing persons; the extent to which this number has fluctuated in the past six years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48168/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the administration and management of An Garda Síochána is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy. I will write directly to the Deputy once I receive it.

Judicial Appointments

Questions (153)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

153. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vacancies for judges at District, Circuit or High Court level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48169/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Judicial appointments are made by the President acting on the advice of the Government in accordance with articles 13.9 and 35.1 of the Constitution. Accordingly, it is my intention to bring forward, in the coming weeks, a Memorandum for Government, seeking approval for the filling of the remaining vacancies. Ensuring access to justice, including maintaining adequate judicial resources within the courts, is a priority for Government.

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are currently 7 judicial vacancies between the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court (5 of which were addressed at Cabinet last week) as follows:

Court

Number of vacancies

High Court

5

Circuit Court

1

District Court

1

At its meeting of 11 November 2019 the Government agreed to nominate five ordinary judges for appointment, by the President of Ireland, to the High Court (to fill 1 vacancy which arose on 17 June 2019 and 4 vacancies which arose on 4 November 2019). Arrangements are currently being made with regard to their appointments.

Organised Crime

Questions (154)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

154. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the degree to which An Garda Síochána remains in contact with Europol and Interpol in the pursuit of organised crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48170/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An Garda Síochána is making important progress in tackling organised crime and targets organised criminal groupings with all available resources. This includes cooperation at levels - local, national and international level - in partnership with relevant stakeholders and in particular other policing agencies.

I am informed that at the international level, An Garda Síochána utilises the available international mechanisms for police cooperation and training including CEPOL, Interpol, and Europol.  Garda Liaison Officers are based, on a full-time basis, in other EU Member States, including the Netherlands, France, United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal.

Garda Liaison Officers are also based at Europol. I am informed by the Garda authorities that in accordance with the Europol Act 2012 An Garda Síochána has a permanent Garda representation in Europol Headquarters, The Hague. An Garda Síochána is also represented on the Management Board of Europol and on the Heads of Europol National Units.

The Irish Liaison Bureau in The Hague together with the Europol National Unit based in Garda Headquarters ensure continuous contact between An Garda Síochána and Europol on all areas of Europol mandated competence.  In particular, I am informed that Gardaí from Special Crime Operations and the Special Detective Unit regularly interact with Europol and are involved in thematic and operational meetings.

I am further informed that two Garda members are seconded to Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France and An Garda Síochána is represented on the Interpol European Committee. An Garda Síochána engages the Interpol network on a daily basis in the investigation of organised crime both nationally and internationally.

Finally I am advised that An Garda Síochána also continues to participate in joint and multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional investigations, within the European Union and worldwide. Successful investigations, prosecutions and disruptions of criminal activities continue to be achieved in this way.

Prison Service Data

Questions (155)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prison places available nationally; the degree to which overcrowding exists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48171/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

To ensure that information is made available to the widest possible range of stakeholders, the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown on a daily basis. This information is available on the website of the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie  (in the Information Centre, under Statistics & Information – Daily Prisoner Population).  The number of prisoners incarcerated and the bed capacity in each prison is included in that information. 

I can inform the Deputy that the total number of prisoners in custody on 18 November 2019 was 4,009, compared to a bed capacity of 4,244.  This represents an occupancy level of 94%. Almost all of the closed institutions are operating at or near full capacity.

It is important to note that the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts. The prisoner population varies over time depending on a range of factors. 

An audit of existing accommodation is underway, in order to identify where additional spaces can be brought on stream.  The construction of the female prison in Limerick as well as a new wing for Limerick male prison are underway. Together they will provide 158 new spaces.

I am further advised that plans are advanced for the re-opening of accommodation not currently being used within the prison system. This includes the re-opening of the Training Unit which will provide over 90 additional spaces.

Where the number of prisoners exceeds the maximum capacity in any prison, I am informed that the Prison Service makes very effort to deal with this through a combination of inter-prison transfers and Temporary Release.  Decisions in relation to temporary release are considered on a case-by-case basis.  The safety of the public is paramount when those decisions are made.

The Deputy may be interested to know for example that Community Return is an initiative whereby carefully selected prisoners, serving sentences from one to eight years, can be granted reviewable temporary release coupled with a requirement to do community service work.  Since its inception, 2,279 prisoners have been released to take part in this scheme.  There were also 2,460 prisoners serving sentences between 3 and 12 months released to take part in the Community Support Scheme.

Garda Promotions

Questions (156)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

156. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of unfilled promotional positions throughout An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48172/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is responsible for management of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources, including deployment of personnel.  As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

Appointments to the ranks of Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are made by Government on the nomination of the Authority.

Since 1 January 2017, the process of selecting and appointing members to the ranks of Assistant Commissioner, Chief Superintendent and Superintendent lies with the Policing Authority.  As Minister, I have no role in the selection and appointment of candidates to these ranks with the exception of members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), whose appointment by the Authority must be approved by the Government. I understand that the Authority held competitions for each of these ranks in 2017 and for Superintendent and Chief Superintendent ranks in 2018. A panel of candidates for both ranks was established by the Authority. The existence of panels ensures that as vacancies arise they can be filled without any undue delay. 

Appointments to the ranks of sergeant and inspector are a matter for the Commissioner under section 14 of Garda Síochána Act 2005 .

I am advised by the Commissioner that competitions for promotion to the rank of sergeant and inspector were held last year in order to bring the number in these ranks up to the full strength as agreed under the Employment Control Framework (ECF). The allocation of successful candidates is currently underway, with 423 newly promoted Sergeants and 190 new promoted Inspectors having been appointed to date.

The Policing Authority is responsible for approving the number and grades of Garda Staff (with the consent of the Ministers for Justice and Public Expenditure and Reform) and since taking over this function has given approval for 378 positions in An Garda Síochána.  Of these 378 positions, I am advised by the Garda authorities that a total of 56 positions are currently vacant and that recruitment is in train. In some cases, the Authority, in approving posts, advises on the way in which they are to be filled, particularly in the case of professional, technical and specialist posts.

In common with Government Departments, An Garda Síochána also conducts internal promotional competitions as appropriate, which affords staff the opportunity to progress in their careers within the organisation if they so wish. 

All positions at Executive Officer grade and above are potential promotional opportunities for Garda Staff.  I am informed by the Garda Authorities that An Garda Síochána is recruiting through the Public Appointments Service for posts from Principal Officer level to Executive Officer level.  There is also a live internal Assistant Principal Officer competition underway and I understand that it is planned to hold an internal competition at Higher Executive Officer level early next year.  Panels created as a result of these competitions will be used to fill posts as approved by the Policing Authority and in accordance with centrally agreed sequences.   

In addition, Garda Staff in An Garda Síochána are civil servants of the state and as such are entitled, if otherwise qualified, to participate in interdepartmental competitions for promotion or open competitions for any post within the Civil Service conducted by the Public Appointments Service.   

For the Deputy's information I have set out in the following table the vacancies at each rank as compared to the ECF as of 18 November 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by the Garda Commissioner. 

Vacancies at each rank as compared to the ECF as of 18 November 2019 

Commissioner

1

0

D/Commissioner

2

1

A/Commissioner

9

1

Chief Superintendent

47

0

Superintendent

168

0

Inspector

381

0

Sergeant

2,110

132

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (157)

Jack Chambers

Question:

157. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on bottled water and disposable coffee cups by his Department to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48194/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The policy of my Department is, in accordance with best practice and the principles of sustainability, to reduce, reuse and recycle. Further, as the Deputy may be aware, a decision of Government in January 2019 instructed Government Departments to avoid the direct or indirect purchase of single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery or drinking straws.

Accordingly, as a matter of Department policy, plastic cups are no longer supplied. Disposable cups are not generally provided at staff water dispensers and reusable cups are available. Where dispensers are made available for use by visitors or members of the public and it is not practical to provide reusable cups, the Department provides fully compostable drinking cups. 

Similarly, where catering is supplied by outside providers, those providers are informed that single-use plastics should not be used.

Bottled water is provided only in exceptional circumstances and where alternatives are not available. This may arise, for example, when large numbers are attending an event, or in the case of outdoor events.

The spend on disposable cups to date in 2019 is €678. The spend on bottled water in the same period is €4,814.

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (158)

Barry Cowen

Question:

158. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the date of each review and revision of the material published under the publication scheme of his Department as outlined in section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48211/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Freedom of Information Act 2014 requires public bodies to have a Publication Scheme.  My Department’s Publication Scheme is available at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Freedom_of_information. The information published in the scheme is, where possible, made available on the Department’s website or through links to other websites and individual elements are reviewed periodically as changes arise.

My Department has recently undertaken an extensive programme of organisational change. A central element of this programme has been to deliver greater openness around our work and improve the Department's approach to public engagement. To this end a dedicated Transparency function has been established within my Department. This function provides a focal point for information management and will proactively determine where there is a need for information to be communicated or published.

The Department’s approach to Freedom of Information is consistent with this goal of enhanced openness, and a review of FOI processes is currently underway to ensure that the Department achieves best-in-class standards. This review incorporates an evaluation of the current model in place for dealing Freedom of Information requests and how to adapt or revise this model in the context of the new Departmental structure. The Publication Scheme will be also be reviewed in this context, and the Department is currently in the process of reviewing its broader online presence.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration

Questions (159)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

159. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the ongoing delays for INIS appointments; the steps he is taking to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48219/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As outlined in responses to previous parliamentary questions, my Department became aware in September 2018 of customers experiencing difficulties booking registration appointments. Some of these difficulties had arisen because third party agents had been able to secure multiple appointments through the use of automatic software.

A set of software fixes was introduced in mid-September 2018 to prevent this abuse of the system. As far as can be determined, this software update has been successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents. The system is being regularly monitored in this regard.

However, I am aware that some third party agents continue to book individual appointments with information supplied to them by customers. My Department strongly advises our customers not to provide sensitive personal data to these unregulated agents.

My Department will shortly be tendering for a replacement online appointments system, which is being designed to prevent the block-booking of appointments. This new system will also assist in streamlining and improving the current online booking process. As part of the Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 for Immigration Service Delivery, a number of other options are also being considered with a view to improving customer service and efficiency as well as meeting the growing demand for registration in Ireland.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (160)

Barry Cowen

Question:

160. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on public relations, promotion and advertising, including multimedia, in his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48250/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information sought cannot be provided in the time allowed. As soon as the information has been collated I will write to the Deputy on the matter.

Alcohol Sales Legislation

Questions (161)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

161. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to proceed with the sale of alcohol Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48268/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is proposed that the Sale of Alcohol Bill will contain proposals to update the law relating to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises and registered clubs, by replacing both the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018 and the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008 with streamlined provisions more suited to modern conditions.

These legislative proposals are among a large number of bills under consideration in my Department. It is not possible to indicate when this complex bill will be published at this juncture.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Questions (162)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

162. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on recent reports from An Garda Síochána of increasing incidents of drivers driving under the influence of drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48269/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have asked An Garda Síochána to provide information in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy. The information requested is detailed and it was not possible to complete the task in the time available. I have requested the Commissioner to provide me with this information and I will provide it directly to the Deputy once it is received.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (163)

Shane Cassells

Question:

163. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount spent on purchasing mobile telephones for staff within her Department for work-related business in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by grade; if her Department has a contract with a mobile telephone company (details supplied) to supply mobile telephones if needed; if so, the name of the company; the date on which the contract for the supply of mobile telephones to her Department is next due to expire; and the robust steps taken to ensure that the costs incurred on work related telephones are the best value for the taxpayer. [47914/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Many of the staff in my Department and its Offices carry out duties which regularly require them to work away from their office location.  It is imperative that those staff are provided with technologies that allow them to be as efficient outside of the office as they would when at their desks.  In addition, the use of mobile technologies has allowed staff of my Department to carry out tasks while away from the office which traditionally could not be completed until they returned to their desks and this in turn allows their office-based colleagues to be more efficient.

The amount spent on purchasing mobile phones for staff within my Department and its Offices is shown in the following table.  A significant project to upgrade older mobile phones was undertaken recently to replace older devices which were becoming unfit for purpose and for which the most up to date operating system and security patches were becoming unavailable.  This is reflected in the cost figures for 2019 to date.  Costs for 2020 are expected to return to levels comparable with previous years.

2016 

 2017

 2018

 2019 to date

€15,972.80

 €15,678.45

 €21,023.10

 €123,629.65

Mobile phones are often bought in batches rather than individually for each user and therefore my Department does not have full historical records of costs per grade for each of those years.  However, records show the number of mobile phones currently assigned to staff per grade are as follows:

Grade

No. of mobile phones assigned

Accountant

2

Administrative Assistant

5

Assistant Principal

110

Assistant Secretary

7

Chairman

1

Chief Operations Officer

1

Clerical Officer

1

Deputy Chairman

4

Deputy Head Services Officer

1

Detective Garda (ODCE)

2

Detective Sergeant (ODCE)

2

Executive Officer

49

Forensic Accountant

4

Head Services Officer

1

Higher Executive Officer

40

Legal Advisor

4

Member - Labour Court

7

Minister

3

Ministers Driver

2

Principal Officer

47

Secretary General

1

Service Officer

7

Solicitor

2

Special Advisor

3

Total

306

* The majority of mobile phones assigned to Executive Officer and Higher Executive Officer grades are assigned to Workplace Relations Commission Field Operatives which involves working a large part of their time outside of the office environment.

My Department recently completed a competitive procurement process under the ‘Framework Agreement for the provision of Mobile Voice and Data Communications and Associated Products and Services’ operated by the Office of Government Procurement.  Following that process a contract was awarded to Vodafone for two years up to August 2021 with an option to extend the contract for a further period of two years up to August 2023.  Choosing the most cost-effective voice, text and data bundles was a significant element considered in the award of this contract.

In addition to choosing the most cost-effective voice, text and data bundles, my Department maintains a number of policies and procedures to ensure that ongoing costs are kept to a minimum and that achieve best value for the taxpayer.  These include:

- Requiring a valid written business case, approved at Assistant Secretary level, for all grades below Principal Officer who request the use of a business mobile phone.

- Requiring all staff who are assigned a smart phone to sign an “iDevice Policy”, which sets out, among other things, instructions on how best to minimise usage costs e.g. staff are reminded to connect to local free Wi-Fi connectivity whenever possible.

- Enforcing mobile data roaming caps.

- The regular checking of mobile bills by admin staff.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (164)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

164. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of staff in her Department by gender and pay grade in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47940/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Staffing resources are an ongoing priority to ensure my Department’s continued ability to facilitate the wide mission and volume of work in a range of challenging policy areas. This will continue with ongoing day-to-day review of the appropriate staffing mix across my Department in response to known and probable priority areas.

My Department liaises directly with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) and Top-Level Appointments Committee (TLAC) in relation to the filling of posts.

The Secretary General of my Department is one of four Secretaries General leading the delivery of Action 8.5 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan – “To improve gender balance at each level by reviewing supports and policies to ensure these measures are impactful and measurable”.

My Department operates an equal opportunity policy to ensure women and men are assigned equal share of high visibility positions across the Department and its Offices.  The Department operates a best fit for the job policy.

Grade

Male

Female

Secretary General

0

1

Deputy Secretary General

2

0

Assistant Secretary

4

3

Assistant Secretary (equivalents)

3

2

Principal (and equivalents)

34

29

Assistant Principal (and equivalents)

75

63

Higher Executive Officer

60

79

Examiner of Patents (pay relativity to AO)

2

2

Administrative Officer

14

20

Executive Officer

72

148

Clerical Officer

94

172

Services Officer

22

4

Services Attendant

2

3

Cleaner

13

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (165)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

165. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the political advisers used by Ministers and Ministers of State in her Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement and cessation dates in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47957/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Appointments to the positions of Special Adviser are made in line with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Instructions to Personnel Officers - Ministerial Appointments for the 32nd Dáil.

Please find below the names of the Special Advisers appointed to Ministers in this Department since the commencement of the Government, the commencement dates of the employment of each and their cessation date where applicable, in the following tabular statement.    

Minister

Date

Special Adviser

Commencement Date

Cessation Date

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

6/5/2016 to 13/6/2017 

Alan Cantwell

Jim McGrath

Ellen Lynch

Roy Dooney

13/5/2016 

13/6/2016 

9/1/2017

23/1/2017

5/11/2016

21/1/2017

13/6/2017

13/6/2017

Frances Fitzgerald, an Tánaiste and Minister for Business Enterprise and Innovation 

14/6/2017 to 29/11/2017

Marion Mannion

Matthew Lynch

Aoife Sweeney

Stephen O’Shea

14/6/2017  14/6/2017  4/9/2017  14/6/2017

29/11/2017

29/11/2017

29/11/2017

29/7/2017

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation 

30/11/2017 to date

Lucy Moylan

Pauric McPhillips

 

30/11/2017

30/11/2017

N/A

N/A

Minister Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection.

19/5/2016 to date

None

N/A

N/A

Minister John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development

 

19/5/2016

Michelle Clancy*

Anthony Feely*

14/11/2016

29/5/2019

18/5/2019

N/A

* Due to the fact that Minister Halligan’s responsibilities span two departments (this Department and the Department of Education and skills), the Special Adviser to Minister of State John Halligan T.D. is appointed by the Department of Education and Skills.