Gambling Sector

Questions (426)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

426. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding online betting companies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2710/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Programme for Government gives a clear commitment to establish a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being, covering gambling online and in person, and the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

The only current legislation providing for online gambling is contained in the Betting (Amendment) Act 2015 which permits the licensing by the Revenue Commissioners of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges. The role of my Department is limited to the processing of certificates of fitness for applicants for such licences.

While a General Scheme of a Gambling Control Bill was published in 2013, a considerable amount of further work has been done in the meantime. The Inter-Departmental Working Group on Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling reported in 2018 and a European Commission funded report on the structure of a Gambling Regulator was produced in late 2019. The task now is to bring all three elements together, and having regard to the on-going evolution of the gambling industry, into one coherent Scheme of a Bill that will deliver on the Programme for Government commitment.

Given the size, complexity and technological development of the modern gambling industry and having regard to the current outdated and complex arrangements, it will be important that the regulator will be established on a sound footing and be adequately resourced to carry out this important task.

I expect to be in a position to publish the Scheme of the Bill during 2021 and will seek Government approval for the drafting of the Bill on that basis.

Visa Applications

Questions (427)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

427. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the progress to date in the determination of an appeal for a visa in the case persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2728/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The visa applications referred to by the Deputy were refused by the Visa Office in Abuja on 2 November 2020. The reasons for this decision were set out in the refusal letter sent to the applicants at that time.

The refusal letter also sets out whether or not the applicants are allowed to appeal. Where an appeal is allowed, there is no fee for such an appeal. An appeal must arrive with the Visa Office within two months of the date on the letter of refusal. If the appeal is late, the original visa decision cannot be changed. However, the applicants may also make a new visa application if they wish. I am advised that, to date, no appeal applications have been received in respect of these applications.

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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Prison Accommodation

Questions (428)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

428. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the amount spent to date in relation to major refurbishment works being carried out at Limerick Prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2731/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that a total of €34.8 million (VAT inclusive) has been spent to date in respect of the project at Limerick Prison. The total estimated cost of the project is €71.5 million and it is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to the impact of the pandemic and restrictions imposed on construction activity under the National Living with Covid-19 Framework.

As the Deputy may be aware, the project scope includes the construction of a new accommodation block for male prisoners, a new prison for female prisoners, facilities to support rehabilitation programmes, a new kitchen, vehicle lock, visits/reception area, exercise yards and the construction of new offices for the Probation Service.

The delivery of this important project will mark a key landmark for the Irish Prison Service in its programme of work to modernise the prison estate and following on from the construction of the new prison at Cork and the in-cell sanitation project at Mountjoy Prison.

Garda Transport Provision

Questions (429)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

429. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the number of new marked and unmarked Garda vehicles that were allocated to Garda National Technical Bureau in 2019 and 2020; the number of vehicles withdrawn during the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2732/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. In addition, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

Significant capital investment is being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million specifically for the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now some 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff.

There will also be continued investment in the Garda Fleet of €8 million in addition to the highest ever investment of approximately €15 million in the Garda Transport Fleet in 2020 – a proportion of which relates to the Garda Covid response.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total number of vehicles in the Technical Bureau Fleet as on 15 January 2021 is as follows:

Cars

Vans

Mbikes

4x4

Others

Total

10

6

0

1

0

17

I am further informed that the number of vehicles allocated and removed from the Garda National Technical Bureau in 2019 and 2020 is shown in the table below:

-

Allocated

Removed

2020

2

0

2019

1

1

All of the vehicles that were allocated and removed were unmarked.

Garda Transport Provision

Questions (430)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

430. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice if funding will be made available in 2021 to purchase additional Garda command and control vehicles; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2733/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now some 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff.

There will also be continued investment in the Garda Fleet of €8 million in addition to the highest ever investment of approximately €15 million in the Garda Transport Fleet in 2020 – a proportion of which relates to the Garda Covid response.

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources. This includes responsibility for the distribution of Garda vehicles across the various Garda Divisions.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number and type of vehicles that will be purchased in 2021 has not yet been determined.

I am further informed that the purchase and allocation of vehicles is made on the basis of identified operational demands and the availability of resources.

The allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed on a continual basis to ensure the best match with operational requirements.

Garda Deployment

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.

A Policing Service for the Future

Questions (431)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

431. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí by rank attached to each divisional protective services unit as of 11 January 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2734/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters . The allocation of Garda resources is made in light of identified operational demand. This includes deployment of personnel among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.

I have requested information from the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter but it was unfortunately not possible to compile it in the time available.

I will write to the Deputy directly with the information requested, when it is available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.
SUBSTANTIVE ANSWER:
I refer to Parliamentary Question Number 431, for answer on 20 January 2021, in which you requested the number of Gardaí by rank attached to each Divisional Protective Services unit as of 11 January 2021 in tabular form.
As you may recall, the information you requested could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to contact you again when the information was to hand.
Further information has now been provided by An Garda Síochána.
I would inform you that under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources. This includes responsibility for the distribution of personnel across the various Garda Divisions.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that Divisional Protective Services Units have been rolled out nationwide. Rollout of these Units meets a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future , the four-year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
I have been informed by An Garda Síochána that as of 11 January 2021, the number of personnel assigned to Divisional Protective Service Units is as set out in the following table:

Garda Region

Garda Division

Insp

Sgt

Gardaí

Total

DMR

DMR East

1

2

10

13

DMR

DMR North Central

1

2

10

13

DMR

DMR North

4

19

23

DMR

DMR South Central

1

3

15

19

DMR

DMR South

4

18

22

DMR (2 x Units)

DMR West

1

4

23

28

Eastern Region

Kildare

1

6

7

Eastern Region

Kilkenny / Carlow

1

2

13

16

Eastern Region

Laois / Offaly

1

6

7

Eastern Region

Meath / Westmeath

1

2

10

13

Eastern Region

Waterford

1

2

13

16

Eastern Region

Wexford

1

4

5

Eastern Region

Wicklow

2

10

12

North Western Region

Cavan / Monaghan

1

2

10

13

North Western Region

Donegal

1

1

5

7

North Western Region

Galway

2

15

17

North Western Region

Louth

1

2

10

13

North Western Region

Mayo

1

8

9

North Western Region

Roscommon / Longford

1

1

5

7

North Western Region

Sligo / Leitrim

1

1

5

7

Southern Region

Clare

1

1

5

7

Southern Region

Cork City

1

2

14

17

Southern Region

Cork West

1

2

10

13

Southern Region

Cork North

2

8

10

Southern Region

Kerry

1

9

10

Southern Region

Limerick

1

1

12

14

Southern Region

Tipperary

1

6

7

TOTAL

16

50

279

345

The resourcing of each Garda region and division is fully considered within the overall context of the needs and requirements of Garda regions throughout the country, including the Protective Services Units. Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategies, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda Resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.
The allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel is determined by a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfers applications, including welfare issues. When allocations are taking place, comprehensive consultation is carried out with Local Garda Management during which all factors are taken into consideration. Where a deficiency in resources is identified, the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.
I trust this information is of assistance.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (432)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

432. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the estimated full-year cost if 1,000 additional gardaí were recruited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2735/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Programme for Government recognises the importance of ensuring more visible community policing, in line with the report of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland. To this end, the Government is committed to supporting the continuation of the training of new Garda recruits annually. This commitment to prioritising the implementation of the report, including ongoing Garda recruitment, will foster the development of safer, more resilient communities.

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. The significant level of funding provided over recent years is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now over 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.

Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff. The Budget allocation also provides for an increase in supervisory ranks at Sergeant and Inspector level.

I am advised by An Garda Síochána that the estimated cost of hiring 1,000 Gardaí in 2021 would be approximately €23,412,546.

This estimate assumes that all 1,000 new recruits commence training on 1 January 2021. Payroll costs for new Garda recruits include a basic allowance of €184 per week. After 32 weeks of training, Garda recruits are attested and move on to the first point of the Garda pay scale €31,600 (pay scale in operation on completion of training in August 2021). The figures include Employer's PRSI and an estimation of allowances which Garda members may qualify for depending on their assignments. The annual cost would increase as the members move up the Garda Pay scale each year.

Irish Prison Service

Questions (433)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

433. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the transport budget for the Irish Prison Service in 2019, 2020 and 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2736/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in Table 1 and Table 2 below. I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the information set out in Table 1 outlines the vehicle budget and spend for 2019 - 2021. Table 2 outlines the Prison Service Vehicle Maintenance budget and spend for years 2019-2021. Table 3 outlines Fuel, Parking and Toll Expenditure for the years 2019 - 2020.

The Deputy will be aware that the Irish Prison Service operates the Prison Service Escort Corp for the purpose of transporting prisoners. Prisoners are required to be transferred between institutions, to and from court and to and from hospital. The Prison Service hold a mix of type and size of vehicles for these purposes. The size range varies from a one person cellular vehicle to a fourteen person cellular carrier within the custodial vehicle range.

Within the passenger fleet, the Service also has a range of medium sized cars which have a range of uses including the transportation of pregnant female prisoners.

The Irish Prison Service also has a range of small, medium and large commercial vehicles which cater for a wide range of uses, including use by trades officers for works within the prison grounds and for the movement of goods to supply Prison Stores. There are also some refrigerated vehicles included in the fleet for the movement of refrigerated goods.

At the end of 2020 the Irish Prison Service had a total fleet size of 247 active vehicles ranging in registration from 1997 to 2020. I am advised that the Prison Service Escort Corp review and examine the condition of the transport fleet at their disposal on an ongoing basis to ensure vehicles are roadworthy and safe for all users.

I can further advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service have purchased 28 new vehicles in the past two years and have committed to purchasing six further two cell custodial vehicles in 2021.

The overall cost of maintaining and servicing the Irish Prison Service fleet fluctuates due to the age and the unique specifications required within the fleet. Fuel costs had increased significantly up until end of March 2020. Subsequently with the onset of COVID 19 separate escort vehicles are required in the event a number of prisoners have to attend court with the need for COVID 19 infection control guidelines to be adhered to in order to have prisoners brought to and from court in a safe environment, which accounts for expenditure exceeding the budget in 2020.

Furthermore and again with the onset of the pandemic the Prison Service were obliged to carry out necessary works on a number of vehicles as a precautionary measure to ensure response vehicles were available should the need arise to transport a prisoner who may test positive to the virus.

Table 1 – Transport Capital Budget and Expenditure

Year - Vehicles Purchased

Yearly Capital Budget

Yearly Capital Spend

2019

1,350,000

1,206,780

2020

500,000

542,908

2021

250,000

0 as at 18th January 2021

Table 2 - Transport Maintenance Budget and Expenditure.

Year

Yearly Maintenance budget

Yearly Maintenance spend

2019

1,150,000

1,294,979

2020

1,200,000

1,467,112

2021

1,150,000

0 as at 18th January 2021

Table 3 – Fuel, Parking and Toll Expenditure

Year

Fuel€

Parking & Tolls€

2019

505,390

44,915

2020

457,222

25,202

Garda Civilian Staff

Questions (434)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

434. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the estimated cost to recruit six additional full-time analysts at higher executive officer level for the Garda cybercrime unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2737/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is the accounting officer of An Garda Síochána and is statutorily responsible for carrying on and managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána including human resource matters. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. I am assured however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to their optimum use.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the estimated cost of recruiting six additional full-time analysts at higher executive officer level for the Garda cyber crime unit is €332,118 (€55,353 per person). The costing assumes that the analysts are placed on the first point of the current relevant salary scale. Employer’s PRSI is also included at a rate of 11.05%.

It should be noted that these estimated figures do not take into account the additional costs that would be incurred in respect of accommodation, ICT, overtime where required, and so on.

Visa Applications

Questions (435)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

435. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if a review will be undertaken into the refusal of a visa in the case of a person (details supplied) who has been offered employment and has supplied further documentation as necessary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2749/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was refused by the Visa Office in Karachi on 26 October 2020. The reasons for this decision were set out in the refusal letter sent to the applicants at that time. An appeal of this decision was then submitted and this appeal was subsequently refused on 25 November 2020.

It is open to the applicant to submit a new visa application at any time and to submit relevant documentation in support of this.

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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Questions (436)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

436. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the procedure to be followed in order to regulate the position of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2751/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

To ensure that people do not fall out of permission during the Covid-19 pandemic, six automatic extensions of immigration permissions have been provided, the most recent to 20 April 2021. The renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions attach. This automatic extension applies in the case of the person referred to by the Deputy.

The person concerned may also wish to consult my Department’s policy documents for non-EEA national students, which provides information on the pathway towards the acquisition of an Employment Permit to remain in Ireland. This information is found at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Students.

If the person concerned believes that they have exceptional circumstances in which Ministerial discretion should be utilised to permit them to remain in the State outside of the policy, they may write to Unit 1, Domestic Residence and Permissions Division, Immigration Service Delivery, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, D02 XK70 with their request and supporting documentation.

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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (437)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

437. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice the position in relation to the application for Irish citizenship by naturalisation by a person (details supplied), which has been with her Department since March 2019; when a decision will be made in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2803/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 11 March 2019. This application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If any further documentation is required, it will be requested from the person in due course.

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.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. However, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

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 Question process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in the cases where the response is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Covid-19 Tests

Questions (438, 439)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

438. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the person or body with responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the testing requirements for departing and arriving passengers through airports and ports here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2853/21]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

439. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the procedure in the case of a person who does not present a negative pre-departure test upon arrival into Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2854/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 438 and 439 together.

From midnight on 15 January 2021, all passengers arriving into Ireland by air or ferry are required to produce evidence of a negative/not detected RT-PCR Covid-19 test, taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival.

Regulations under the Health Act 1947 underpin these new requirements. Under these Regulations, passengers are legally required to produce evidence of a negative/not detected result from an RT-PCR Covid-19 test when boarding a ferry or aircraft and will be denied boarding by the carrier if they cannot produce such evidence unless they fall into the very limited exemption categories.

Checks of evidence of a negative/not detected RT- PCR Covid-19 test on all arriving passengers into the State are carried out by Immigration Officials of the Border Management Unit of my Department and An Garda Síochána at ports of entry to the State.

All passengers are advised and expected to follow all public health advice and adhere to current level 5 restrictions in place.

Passengers who arrive in an Irish port or airport without evidence of a negative/not detected test result commit an offence and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding €2,500 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or both.

A referral will be made by Immigration Officials to An Garda Síochána who will prepare a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Deportation Orders

Questions (440)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

440. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Justice if an analysis has been carried out on the effects that letters consistently being sent to persons facing deportation outlining their requirement to present themselves to their local Garda stations is having on their mental health; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2917/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In line with the clear commitments that both I and the Taoiseach have given, the position remains that no further deportation orders are being enforced during the Covid-19 pandemic except in circumstances where an individual may be a threat to national security and whose presence in Ireland would be contrary to the public interest.

Furthermore, my Department has consistently adopted a pragmatic approach in relation to immigration arrangements in the context of Covid-19. This pragmatic approach to deportation orders will continue for as long as is necessary.

The enforcement of a deportation order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). For the purpose of enforcing the Order, the person is required to present at the offices of the GNIB, either at the Burgh Quay office in Dublin, or at their local Immigration Office. They may be directed to attend at specified times on specific dates until such time as the deportation process has been completed.

It is of course open to any person who is the subject of a deportation order to engage with voluntary repatriation arrangements, or to comply with their obligation to leave the country. In those circumstances, the issue of enforced deportation does not arise.

GNIB issue what are referred to as presentation letters on a regular basis to people who are subject to a Deportation Order, to ensure continued engagement and to keep them up to date on their requirements to present in person, as enshrined in legislation. I am advised that the GNIB is not in a position to provide a definitive repatriation date to a person subject to a Deportation Order, therefore, provisional presentation dates are issued. When a date for the repatriation process draws closer and where repatriation is unlikely to occur, owing to various reasons, including the current COVID-19 pandemic, the GNIB will issue a new presentation letter to the person. At all times, any person subject to a Deportation Order is kept appraised of the situation and the GNIB continue to engage with them by post, email and telephone.

Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) allows an Order to be amended or revoked by making a request to me as Minister for Justice. In making a revocation request, a person can raise new or changed circumstances in their case, including in relation to their country of origin. I encourage people to be as detailed as possible in their representations to me and my Department, so that fully informed decisions can be made at the appropriate time.