Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (128)

Martin Heydon

Question:

128. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of a school building project (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50662/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, a new site is required for the replacement building for the school in question and my Department has commenced the site identification process. In line with protocols for the use of State property assets, my Department has written to the Department of Defence enquiring if the Department is in a position to provide a site that could be suitable. My Department has also been in liaison with Kildare County Council in regard to identifying a potential site.

Due to commercial sensitivities surrounding site acquisitions in general, I cannot comment further at this point in the process, though I can assure the Deputy that my Department is making every effort to progress the matter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (129)

Martin Heydon

Question:

129. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of school building projects (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50663/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major school building project for the extension and refurbishment of the schools referred to by the Deputy has recently been authorized by my Department to proceed to tender for the appointment of a Building Contractor.

The closing date for receipt of tenders is early January 2020. Subject to no significant issues arise during the tender process, my Department anticipates that the joint project will commence on site in the second quarter of 2020.

Child Abuse

Questions (130, 131, 132)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

130. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the issue of changing references to child pornography in legislation to child sexual abuse material to reflect the reality of the harm suffered and the crime being committed in the material has been investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50528/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

131. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason his Department has not changed the term "child pornography" regarding child sexual abuse material across relevant legislation to reflect the reality of the harm suffered and the crime being committed in the material; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50432/19]

View answer

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

132. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Bills which would need to be amended if references to the term child pornography were changed to child sexual abuse material; his plans to update the legislation to make such changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50433/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 to 132, inclusive, together.

I can confirm for the Deputy that Irish law includes the term “child pornography” in relation to a number of criminal offences.

While this term was used historically, in more recent years the term “child sexual abuse material” has been preferred. International best practice regarding terminology in this area is captured in the Luxembourg Guidelines, which emphasise a preference for language referring to “child sexual abuse material” or alternatively “child sexual exploitation material”.

In line with these developments and in common with other like-minded States, in recent years my Department, when referring to action to combat online child sexual abuse and related matters, has used the term “child sexual abuse material”.

My Department may in the future consider updating the term “child pornography” where it appears in the statute book. However it is important to be aware that any amendment to existing terms in the numerous Acts and Statutory Instruments involved will need to be very carefully considered, to ensure there are no unintended legal consequences for prosecutions in these important cases.

There is no particular timeline in that regard, as the Deputy will appreciate all legislation is kept under review.

Public Consultation Process

Questions (133)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

133. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50452/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department routinely consults with the public and key stakeholders to assess the impact of proposed measures on a wide range of issues.

Public consultations are usually conducted through multiple channels including online consultations and questionnaires, individual meetings and forums with stakeholders, and targeted measures for hard-to-reach communities.

The consultation programmes undertaken by my Department during the period specified are set out in the first table below. Notable events associated with these programmes are set out in the second table.

Consultations By Theme

Theme

Year

Hate Speech Public Consultation

2019

National Disability Inclusion Strategy

2019

Public Consultation for the Review Group on Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption Structures

2019

Mid-term Review of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021

2019

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

2018-2019

Seasonal Clock Changes

2018

Draft National Standards for accommodation offered to People in the Protection Process

2018

Young Persons Consultation regarding the future operation of Garda Youth Diversion Projects

2018

State Report on the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination

2018

Formal Events

Theme

Location

Date

National Disability Inclusion Strategy

Dublin

November 2019

National Disability Inclusion Strategy

Offaly

November 2019

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

Limerick

December 2018

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

Dublin

November 2018-February 2019

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

Galway

November 2018

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

Cork

November 2018

National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy

Dundalk

November 2018

Consultation on draft National Standards for Accommodation offered to People in the Protection Process

Multiple regional accommodation centres

August 2018

Young Persons Consultation regarding the future operation of Garda Youth Diversion Projects

Multiple locations

July-August 2018

Drugs Crime

Questions (134, 135)

John Curran

Question:

134. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the response he plans to take on the recent findings of the report by the EU Drugs Agency and Europol that violence and intimidation by drug gangs has severely affected communities here and had a major impact on persons, families, communities and the functioning of local services and agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50464/19]

View answer

John Curran

Question:

135. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the response he plans to take in relation to the recent findings of the report by the EU Drugs Agency and Europol that a new phenomenon of drugs supply networks has emerged here and in which criminal gangs based in major cities have expanded their selling operations to provincial towns and almost exclusively supply heroin and crack cocaine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50465/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 135 together.

Government policy in relation to drug and alcohol misuse is set out in Ireland’s National Drug Strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’ 2017-2025. This represents a whole-of-Government response to the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland.

My Department and associated agencies continue to work closely with statutory, community and voluntary partners in tackling the problem of drug misuse under the drug policy framework established under the Strategy.

As the Deputy will appreciate, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne TD have primary responsibility in relation to the strategy.

My Department has responsibility in a number of actions, including keeping drugs legislation under review as the joint lead agency with the Department of Health.

I can assure the Deputy that tackling the sale and supply of drugs is a key priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána. A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime. The rollout of the new operating model of An Garda Síochána, meeting a key commitment in "A Policing Service for the Future ", will further increase the number and visibility of front-line Gardaí to combat criminal activity including tackling drugs.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for additional information in relation to the matter raised and as soon as it is received I will write directly to the Deputy.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (136)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

136. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied). [50527/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed that processing of an application for naturalisation from the person concerned is ongoing, with a view to establishing whether the conditions for naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, are satisfied. On completion of the necessary processing, the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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

Legislative Process

Questions (137)

Niall Collins

Question:

137. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Bills in his Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50552/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

There is one Government Bill in my Department currently awaiting Committee Stage: the Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Decisions on Supervision Measures) Bill. The Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Bill 2019 completed Committee Stage on 4 December 2019.

Inquiry into the Death of Mr. Shane O'Farrell

Questions (138)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

138. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will publish the initial report by a person (details supplied) regarding the scoping exercise into the death of a person. [50562/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Shane O'Farrell have previously been addressed by me in both the Dáil and the Seanad and I have met with the O'Farrell family.

As the Deputy is aware, the terms of reference of the scoping exercise have been finalised. My Department wrote to Judge Haughton on 23 September to ask him to begin his scoping exercise and to make an initial report by mid-November.

Judge Haughton’s interim report was received in my Department on 13 November and will be published shortly, following consultation with the Attorney General, Judge Haughton and the O’Farrell family. That consultation has been initiated and observations are awaited.

Judge Haughton has committed to producing his final report as soon as possible and the O’Farrell family is working with him in this exercise to ensure that all the facts are fully considered and that recommendations are made to address this tragic case. I am grateful to Judge Haughton for agreeing to undertake this sensitive and important work.

Judge Haughton has committed to producing his final report as soon as possible and the O’Farrell family is working with him in this exercise to ensure that all the facts are fully considered and that recommendations are made to address this tragic case. I am grateful to Judge Haughton for agreeing to undertake this sensitive and important work.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (139)

Niall Collins

Question:

139. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the photography costs for his Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in his Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50576/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Professional photographic services are generally only used by my Department to mark and record significant occasions and campaigns and the vast majority of photography is undertaken by the Department's in-house communications staff as part of their normal duties. Consideration is given at all times to the costs involved when sourcing external services.

The year-by-year cost of photography services is set out in the first table, while a breakdown of individual occasions when photographers were engaged is set out in the second table. The amounts reference for 2019 include services invoiced to date.

Year

Cost

2011

€607

2012

€1,447

2013

€2,089

2014

€568

2015

€1,223

2016

€1,798

2017

€676

2018

€246

2019 (to date)

€781

Occasion

Year

Photographer

Cost

Launch of Visa Waiver Scheme

2011

Maxwell Photography

€607

Joint Statement with UK Immigration Minister, on Visa Data Exchange

2012

Maxwell Photography

€92

Joint Statement with UK Immigration Minister, on Visa Data Exchange

2012

Maxwell Photography

€526

Launch of conference "Regulatory Reform for Legal Profession in 21st Century".

2012

Maxwell Photography

€277

Deployment of Civilian Immigration Officers to Dublin Airport

2012

Maxwell Photography

€551

Meeting with Romanian Minister for Internal Affairs

2013

MAC INNES Photography

€345

Justice Home Affairs Committee

2013

MAC INNES Photography

€50

EU Presidency

2013

MAC INNES Photography

€200

EU Presidency

2013

MAC INNES Photography

€388

Bilateral meeting of EU & US delegates

2013

MAC INNES Photography

€1,106

National Missing Persons Day

2014

Maxwell Photography

€413

Promote safety on Fireworks Night

2014

Maxwell Photography

€155

International Women's Day

2015

Maxwell Photography

€121

Website and other Department Publications

2015

Maxwell Photography

€517

Website and other Department Publications

2015

Maxwell Photography

€585

International Women's Day

2016

Maxwell Photography

€232

Posthumous Pardon to Harry Gleeson

2016

Maxwell Photography

€964

2016 Annual Justice Conference

2016

Maxwell Photography

€136

Launch of Call for Proposals for EU Funded Projects

2016

Maxwell Photography

€465

Promotion of Someone Like Me art competition

2017

Finbarr O'RourkePhotography

€676

Promotion of Politics Needs Women competition

2018

David KeanePhotography

€246

Launch of Community Sponsorship Ireland initiative

2019

MaxwellPhotography

€480

Launch of the Community Integration Fund

2019

Maxwell Photography

€301

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (140)

Barry Cowen

Question:

140. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of freedom of information requests made to his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50601/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in tabular format below.

As noted in the table, due to the time-frame for processing requests under the Freedom of Information Act, there will always be a number of live cases on hand at the end of each year which have to be finalised in the following calendar year.

It is not possible to provide statistics on the grounds applying to individual refusals on a retrospective basis as this information was not previously part of the Department's tracking system for FOI requests. However, a new tracking system has been adopted by the Department during 2019 and this information will be available with respect to future requests.

As the Deputy will be aware, a fee is no longer required to process a Freedom of Information request for non-personal records. The fee for an internal review (appeal) of a request under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 in relation to non-personal records is €30 or €10 for a medical card-holder. During the specified period, the Department has received a total of €770 in respect of applications for internal reviews for non-personal requests.

During the specified period, my Department has not received any search and retrieval fees for requests.

Year

2016

2017

2018

2019 (YTD 31/11/2019)

No. FOI requests received

583

769

827

828

Personal

312

402

378

373

Non-personal

269

394

449

454

Mixed

2

0

0

1

Outcome

Granted

159

163

235

197

Part granted

206

250

302

309

Refused

7

274

201

191

Transferred

26

3

4

1

Withdrawn

32

45

48

58

Withdrawn and handled outside of Act

76

45

63

11

Cases on hand at year end

109

125

99

160

Appeals

Internal Appeals

76

125

72

61*

Internal Appeals (Granted/Part granted/Withdrawn and handled outside the Act)

47

45

37

28

Internal Appeals Refused

29

80

35

23

*A number of reviews are still being processed.

Public Consultation Process

Questions (141)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

141. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the public consultations held by her Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50441/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

As a matter of routine, my Department has ongoing dialogue with our stakeholders on a wide range of policy issues. As regards public consultations, these are generally carried out online and at national level rather than in specific locations around the country. Details of public consultations carried out during the period in question are set out in the following tables.

Additionally, and in accordance with legislative requirements, the Labour Court requests submissions from interested parties in respect of the establishment of Joint Labour Committees and the review of pay and pension and sick pay entitlements of workers in a particular sector (Sectoral Employment Order). In 2018 the Labour Court conducted a review of each Joint Labour Committee under section 41A Industrial Relations Act, 1946 which requires the Court to carry out such a review at least once every five years. The Court published a notice in national newspapers on 16 March 2018, advising that the Court was carrying out a review and inviting written submissions in respect of the review. From time to time, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) also carries out consultations with stakeholders in relation to the services they provide.

2018

Public Consultation

Date

Consultation on Proposed Centres for Research Training (CRT)

March 2018

Closing date for submissions 20th April 2018

EU Free Trade Agreement Negotiations with Australia

30/07/18 -21/09/18

EU Free Trade Agreement Negotiations with New Zealand

30/07/18 -21/09/18

Call for views in response to Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services [COM (2018) 238 final]

25 May 2018

Consultation on Proposed Centres for Research Training (CRT)

March 2018

Closing date for submissions 20th April 2018

Stakeholder Consultation on the EU Proposal to establish ‘Horizon Europe’, the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027

24 July 2018

Public Consultation on the Transposition of Directive (EU) 2017/828 amending Directive 2007/36/EC as regards the encouragement of long-term shareholder engagement (Shareholders’ Rights Directive)

4 December 2017 - 9 February 2018

Goods Package Proposal

6th – 30 March 2018

Call for views in response to Draft EU Directive on Unfair Trading Practices in Business to Business Relationships in the Food Supply Chain

25th April 2018 – 1st June 2018

Call for views in response to Draft EU Directive on Representative Actions for the Protection of the Collective Interests of Consumers

3rd May 2018 – 15th June 2018

Call for views on Proposed EU Directive on the Better Enforcement and Modernisation of EU Consumer Protection Rules

16th May 2018 – 29th June 2018

European Commission proposal for a Directive on cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions of companies

29th May 2018 – 02 July 2018

Consultation on gift voucher fees and expiry dates

19th July 2018 – 31st August 2018

Review of the provisions of the Casual Trading Act 1995 and the Occasional Trading Act 1979

8th August 2018 – 31st October 2018

2019

Public Consultation

Date

Public consultation on the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC (Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market)

September 2019

Public Consultation on the Limited Partnerships Act 1907

18 January 2019 – 01 March 2019

Furniture Fire Regulations

14 November 2019 - 28 February 2020

Public Consultation on the Registration of Business Names Act 1963.

8th July 2019 – 10th September 2019

Brexit Supports

Questions (142)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

142. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the Brexit funding that will be available to the Border region for large IDA Ireland clients and for small and medium scale enterprises; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50461/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

IDA Ireland is working in various ways to encourage companies to invest in the Border region, including the attraction of potential Brexit-related projects. In addition to the general support that it provides to client firms on the investment climate in Ireland, the Agency is authorised by my Department to provide a range of particular financial supports in the form of employment, capital, research and development, environmental and training grants. While these grants are not Brexit-specific, they do represent an important means of encouraging companies to invest in regional Ireland. Last year alone, the IDA provided a total of €4.3m in grant funding to client companies in the counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan.

More broadly, my Department and its agencies have put in place extensive supports to ensure that businesses nationwide are as prepared as possible for Brexit.

InterTradeIreland, for example, offers a Brexit Planning Voucher that enables businesses to seek professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for Brexit. Vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. ITI has also launched a further financial support in the form of the Brexit Implementation Voucher, which offers financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with ITI paying 50% towards implementing critical changes in relation to Brexit matters.

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), meanwhile, are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business, including businesses in the border counties. The LEOs have organised various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit. Up to November, just under 1200 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit.

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully. Last month, it was announced that over €1 million of R&D funding has been awarded through Co-Innovate.

The Brexit Loan Scheme was launched by my Department in March 2018. It provides relatively short-term working capital, up to three years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges. The scheme is open to eligible businesses from all regions of the country, including those in the Border counties. Dublin aside, the most recent quarterly report shows that the border region is the most active region in terms of eligibility applications for the scheme. Mid-November figures showed that there have been 892 eligibility applications received, of which 804 have been approved and 212 loans progressed to sanction at bank level to a value of €46.6 million. It should be noted that 159 of total applications received relate to repeat/duplicate applications, as eligibility expires after six months.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme opened for eligibility applications in April 2019. This scheme provides a longer-term facility, 8-10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment at competitive rates. This scheme has been jointly funded by my Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to make available loans of €100,000 (€50,000 for primary agriculture) to €3 million, with loans of under €500,000 being provided on an unsecured basis. The scheme is open to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic, long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has also established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) Enterprise Ireland invested in seven successful projects in the Border region with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million. This funding will help drive enterprise development and job creation in the Border Region.

In June, at a visit to the recently opened Cavan Digital Hub, I announced that a further €45 million is to be made available under a new third call of the REDF.

Legislative Process

Questions (143)

Niall Collins

Question:

143. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Bills in her Department awaiting Committee Stage. [50541/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

The following Bill from my Department is currently awaiting Committee Stage:

- Prohibition of Above Cost Ticket Touting Bill 2017 .

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (144)

Niall Collins

Question:

144. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the photography costs for her Department in each of the years March 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used in tabular form; if there is a policy in her Department regarding the booking of photographers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50565/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I can advise the Deputy that the total photography costs incurred by my Department and its Offices since 9 March 2011 are as follows:

2011 - €2,017

2012 - €4,100

2013 - €4,455

2014 - €4,534

2015 - €6,153

2016 - €4,421

2017 - €4,818

2018 - €6,732

2019 - €14,057

The details for each year are set out in the table contained in the link below. No expenditure for photography was incurred from Ministerial allowances.

My Department uses external service providers having regard to its business needs for such services. In engaging such providers, the Department is mindful of the need to secure value for money and be compliant with public procurement guidelines.

Table

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (145)

Barry Cowen

Question:

145. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of freedom of information requests made to her Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of requests fully denied by reason; the number of requests partially denied; the number of appeals made against denials; the number of such appeals upheld; the number of such appeals rejected; the number of requests that required a fee; the amount received for freedom of information requests in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50590/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

Details of the number of Freedom of Information requests made, the number of requests fully denied by reason, the number of requests partially denied, the number of appeals made against denials, the number of such appeals upheld, the number of such appeals rejected, the number of requests that required a fee and the amount received for Freedom of Information requests by my Department in 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019 are outlined in the tables contained in the following link.

Total Number of FOI Requests Received in Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in 2016, 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019.

Table

*Total figures include split requests which had two or more decision makers.

Work Permits Applications

Questions (146)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

146. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she is satisfied with the ten-week processing time for standard applications regarding employment permits; and if she expects this time to be cut when the independent business process review being carried out within her Department is concluded. [50649/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

As the economy improves and we approach full employment, my Department continues to experience a high volume of employment permit applications which has led to some delays in processing applications. The current level of demand is due to our economic success, growing labour market and reduced labour surplus.

Employment Permits Section is working to further reduce the current waiting times of approximately:

- 3 weeks for Trusted Partners, which account for 76% of permits issued this year (down from a peak of 7 weeks). Trusted Partners are regular users of the service.

- 10 weeks for standard applications, which account for 24% of permits issued this year (down from a peak of 16 weeks).

In order to further reduce processing times, the Employment Permits section has introduced a number of operational changes, streamlined processes and implemented ICT solutions. Additional staffing resources have also been assigned to the section and a fast track training programme has been devised.

These processing timelines are good by international standards but they are not where we want them to be. I can assure the Deputy that all available resources are being deployed with the aim of reducing them. Whilst there is still room for improvement in relation to reducing processing times for standard applications, it should be noted that, overall, 76% of all employment permit applications are currently being processed in approximately 3 weeks.

The number of applications being received by my Department is currently at an 11-year high. At end November 2019, 17,216 applications have been received, an 11% increase on the same time last year. At the same time there has been a 24% increase in the amount of applications processed (17,535) compared to the same period last year. In July 2019, Employment Permits Section processed more employment permit applications (1,828) than during any month in the past 11 years. Quarter 3 of 2019 was the busiest Quarter in the last 11 years with 5,072 permit applications being processed so the changes currently being implemented within Employment Permits are resulting in higher outputs and reduced processing times.

An independent Business Process Review (BPR) is currently being carried out to identify further efficiencies that can be implemented in the short term and as a first step in the development of a new IT processing system during 2020 which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitisation. The Review, which included engagement from key stakeholders, is close to completion with the report expected before the end of the year. It is anticipated that the implementation of the recommendations of the Review, including the implementation of a new IT processing system, will result in further streamlined processes and reduced processing times.

My officials have been proactively engaging with customers to notify them of current processing timelines through email, meetings and regular updates on the Employment Permits section of my Department’s website.

Applicants are advised to apply for the employment permit at least 12 weeks in advance of the expected start date so that any impact of the current extended processing timelines on recruitment timeframes is minimised.

Homeless Persons Supports

Questions (147)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

147. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to improve mental health and primary care services for homeless persons; and the specific budget allocation in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [50519/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Homeless Persons Supports

Questions (148)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

148. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Health the status of plans to address the rehabilitation needs of homeless persons with addiction issues through the new national drugs strategy which was to be effective from January 2017. [50520/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Training

Questions (149)

Micheál Martin

Question:

149. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if there are officials in his Department who have policy expertise in health issues. [50338/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

My Department is composed of a number of Divisions which deal with policy in relation to a broad range of health and social care issues. These cover the spectrum of health service provision, along with various support functions including finance, research, statistics and analytics, HR policy, governance and performance oversight, professional regulation, policy support and many other functions.

The officials of my Department have a range of expertise and experience among the civil servants at the different grades. They work alongside other specialists including those with medical, nursing, dental and pharmacy expertise; statisticians; economists; accountants and researchers. These experts are closely involved in policy development in respect of their various areas of responsibility.

Home Help Service Provision

Questions (150)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

150. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if home help will be provided in the case of a person (details supplied). [50434/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Public Consultation Process

Questions (151)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

151. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the public consultations held by his Department in 2018 and to date in 2019; the date on which such consultations were held by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50450/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Details of public consultations held by the Department of Health in 2018 are available on our archived website at the following link:

https://wayback.archive-it.org/11501/20190626111728/ https://health.gov.ie/consultations/2018-consultations/

I will survey the Department for details of consultations held in 2019 and revert to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Misuse of Drugs

Questions (152)

John Curran

Question:

152. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the funding allocated to the HSE to carry out a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with drug use in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50463/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Drugs.ie is managed by the HSE National Social Inclusion Office and is Ireland's national drug information and support website. It provides a comprehensive range of information and supports related to substance use.

I've asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly in relation to the funding allocated for awareness campaigns for the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019.