Garda Equipment

Questions (616)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

616. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of new Garda vehicles allocated to the Garda armed support unit in 2019 and 2020, in tabular form. [6614/21]

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.

I am pleased to have secured significant capital investment to be 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. The allocation of these and all other vehicles in the fleet is entirely a matter for the Commissioner and his management team.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of new Garda vehicles allocated to the Garda Armed Support unit in 2019 and 2020 is as follows:

-

Allocations

2019

0

2020

10

I am further informed that the total number of vehicles assigned to the Armed Support Unit as of 3 February 2021 is:

Cars

Vans

Mbikes

4x4

Others

Total

36

3

0

0

0

39

Garda Resources

Questions (617)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

617. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the budget allocation to the Garda national drugs and organised crime bureau in 2020 and 2021, in tabular form. [6615/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for carrying on and managing the administration and business of the organisation as well as for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no role in those matters.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the table below details the total expenditure for the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in the year 2020.

Year

Expenditure

2020

€ 13,214,450

It is envisaged that the budget allocated to the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau for 2021 will be in line with the prior year and will meet all operational requirements.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (619)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

619. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 712 of 29 September 2020, if she has received the necessary information from An Garda Síochána to answer same. [6618/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Parliamentary Question 712 of 29 September 2020 refers to the estimated cost to have 15,420 sworn Gardaí by the end of 2021; and the estimated cost for same to be increased to 16,200 by the end of 2022.

I can confirm that a substantive response to Parliamentary Question 712 of 29 September 2020 was issued to the Deputy on 30 October 2020. A copy is attached for convenience.

To be of further assistance, I have asked the Garda authorities to provide updated information. I am advised that any such estimate is subject to a wide range of assumptions.

I am informed that at 31 December 2020, there were 14,491 Garda Members. It is estimated that 330 Members will leave the Garda organisation between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021. Therefore, in order to have 15,420 sworn Garda Members by 31 December 2021, 1,259 new Members would have to be attested in 2021.

The table below as provided to me by the Garda authorities sets out the payroll costs relating to the hire of Gardaí in 2021 to 2022. Payroll costs for new Garda recruits include an initial 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, which is €31,600. I am informed that this is the pay scale that is expected to be 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. This annual cost increases each year as the members move up the Garda Pay scale.

-

2021

2022

2021 intake (1259 trainees)

29,476,517

59,334,281

2022 Intake (1110 trainees)

25,988,034

Total Sworn Members

15,420

16,200

These calculations are based on the assumption that all trainees commence training on 1 January, that all those members retiring or resigning do so on 1 January and that in both 2021 and 2022 an estimated 330 Members retire or resign from An Garda Síochána.

The figures relate to the costs of the newly attested Gardaí only and any savings relating to retirements or resignations are excluded. The projected costs do not take into account any pay increases that may occur from 1 January 2021.

Garda Data

Questions (620)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

620. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of external expert consultants on retainer or engaged by the Garda national economic crime bureau; and the number of cases the bureau secured a conviction on in each of the years of 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form. [6619/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

I have requested information from the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter and will write to the Deputy directly with the information requested, when it is available.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (621)

Emer Higgins

Question:

621. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Justice if citizenship can be fast-tracked for essential workers in the healthcare system in view of their work on the Covid-19 frontline; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6627/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I recognise the crucial role frontline workers are continuing to play in responding to the threat of COVID-19. They work in a challenging environment and deal with vulnerable people on a daily basis. Their exceptional commitment has been particularly clear throughout the pandemic, during which they have been playing a key role in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually inaccordance with legislation. There are no provisions to apply different criteria depending on the category of employment of the applicant. All applicants are required to meet minimumperiods of reckonable residence and standard checks are carried out as part of the overall process to maintain its integrity.

Due to the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, I have provided six extensions of immigration permission to 20 April 2021, to ensure that those requiring an immigration permission to work in the state could continue to do so including those providing frontline services.

I am conscious that a significant backlog has built up regarding the granting of citizenships due to the inability to hold in person ceremonies during Covid-19. Unfortunately, the pandemic has prevented the holding of such ceremonies, which are usually attended by hundreds of people and which have become a welcome addition to our public and civic life.

I was pleased to recently announce that a temporary system is now in place that will enable citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty. This signed statutory declaration replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19.

Under the temporary new system, up to 4000 qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department and bring it to one of the listed designated officials. The designated official must witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration. The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to Citizenship Division. Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, will be sent to the applicant.

The new system is in place from 18 January 2021, and my Department will communicate with applicants regarding the requirements, on a phased basis over the next few months until in-person citizenship ceremonies are able to recommence.

It is expected that the 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have been provided with an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March and I am pleased to say that more than 500 certificates have already issued this week. A significant number of healthcare and other frontline workers who have made extraordinary contributions during the pandemic will also benefit from these new arrangements over the coming weeks and months.

It remains my intention that large scale ceremonies will recommence once circumstances allow. Since their establishment in 2011, citizenship ceremonies have been joyous occasions which mark the granting of Irish citizenships in a dignified manner and they have become a welcome addition to our public and civic life. In-person ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021, subject to the safety of all involved being assured.

Residency Permits

Questions (622)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

622. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 680 of 13 January 2021, if the email address for queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases referred to in the response will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6634/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

There are a number of avenues available to public representatives to raise matters with me or directly with officials of my department in respect of individual immigration queries. The Oireachtas Mail facility (INISOireachtasMail@justice.ie) has been specifically established for this purpose and is available to Members of the Oireachtas and MEPs who were elected in the State. My Department endeavours to respond to all queries within the shortest possible timeframe.

Deputies can, of course, also raise matters through the Parliamentary Questions process or can make representations on behalf of a person or a group by writing to my Office by post or by e-mail or by telephone.

Address: Department of Justice, 51 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, D02 HK52

Email: info@justice.ie

Telephone: (01) 602 8202

Lo-call: 1890 221 227

Applicants can also contact the Immigration Service of my department directly regarding their immigration case, by telephone, email, in writing or through an online contact page. Full details are available at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/contact.

International Relations

Questions (623)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

623. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice if she has spoken virtually with her Australian counterpart since her appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6677/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have not yet spoken to the Australian Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, since my appointment as Minister for Justice in June 2020.

Garda Equipment

Questions (624)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

624. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice the age of the trucks attached to the Garda water unit; if there are plans to replace either truck in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6678/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible by law for the management of An Garda Síochána, including the deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters.

However I am informed by Garda authorities that there are two trucks, listed as 'Others' in the table below, currently assigned to the Garda Water Unit Fleet. These trucks are 15 and 16 years old respectively.

I am further informed that there are no plans to replace trucks allocated to the Water Unit in 2021. The purchase and allocation of vehicles is made on the basis of identified operational demands and the availability of resources.

I am advised by Garda authorities that the allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed on a continual basis to ensure the best match with operational requirements.

Garda Water Unit Fleet as on Feb 3rd 2021

Age

Car

Van

Mbikes

4x4

Others

Total

1- 3yrs

0

2

0

2

0

4

3-6yrs

0

0

0

2

0

2

6-10 yrs

0

0

0

0

0

0

Over 10 yrs

0

0

0

1

2

3

Total

0

2

0

5

2

9

Garda Equipment

Questions (625)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

625. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice the number of marked and unmarked Garda vans, 4x4 vehicles and jeeps attached to the Garda collision forensic investigation unit as of 1 February 2020 and 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6679/21]

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 to the Garda fleet. 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.

I am pleased to have secured significant capital investment to be 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. The allocation of these and all other vehicles in the fleet is entirely a matter for the Commissioner and his management team.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are 10 unmarked vans assigned to the Garda Collision Forensic Investigation Unit at 3 February 2021. This was the same total for 3 February 2020.

Legislative Programme

Questions (627)

Colm Brophy

Question:

627. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Justice if she will introduce legislation to amend section 252 of the Children’s Act 2001 to allow the courts discretion in the naming of children who have been the victims of crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6697/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

It is clear to me that the effect of Section 252 of the Children Act 2001, as recently ruled by the Court of Appeal ruling in DPP v. E.C. and Media Outlet, is having a profoundly negative impact on grieving parents who are unable to remember their deceased children’s names or legacies in public. Being unable to speak publicly about how they want their children to be remembered is wrong and I have committed to changing that.

I brought proposals to Cabinet this week to resolve this issue. I have secured Government approval to support a Bill in the Seanad presented by Senator Michael McDowell, subject to acceptance of the necessary Government amendments. The Bill is scheduled for second stage in the Seanad next week. Government time will be made available for committee stage in the coming weeks at which point the relevant Government amendments will be introduced.

I ask that all parties, across the Dáil and Seanad, co-operate in passing the necessary amendment to change Section 252 of the Children Act as quickly as possible in order to give grieving parents back the power to speak publically about their children. I am confident that with the cooperation of the members in both Houses we can have this legislation enacted before the end of March.

Of course any changes to the Children Act will have to be carefully considered to ensure they are consistent with the key principle of the best interests of the child. This is important as the section to be amended was designed to protect child witnesses as well as victims in the criminal justice process.

I understand that issues have also arisen on foot of the ruling regarding cases with respect to persons who were children at the time of the offence but adults when the proceedings were taken against the perpetrators. I am also working to address the effect of the ruling in the context of the legislative amendments that might be required to address this particular matter.

While I am determined to progress these changes as quickly as possible, it is important that in taking forward any legislative amendments, full consideration is given to all potential issues in order to avoid any unintended consequences the changes might give rise to.

Residency Permits

Questions (628)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

628. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if she will provide details of the procedure to be followed to update stamp residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) who is unable to update a passport due to Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6757/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

An application for a renewal of an Atypical Working Scheme visa on behalf of the person referred to by the Deputy was received by my department on 12 June 2020. To date, the application fee of €250.00 has not been received.

The requirement for this fee is legislated under Statutory Instrument No. 324 of 2013. No application can be deemed to be accepted until this fee has been paid and evidence of the payment is provided to my Department.

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 (INISOireachtasMail@justice.ie), 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.

Coroners Service

Questions (629, 688)

Patricia Ryan

Question:

629. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice if provision will be made to facilitate inquests relating to bodies uncovered at mother and baby institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6807/21]

View answer

Holly Cairns

Question:

688. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the dialogue there has there been with the coroner whose jurisdiction includes Bessborough, Cork with respect to the holding of inquests for the deaths associated with the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home as provided for under the Coroners Act 1962; if there have been requests for inquests; if so, the number; the way in which they have they been responded to; if the coroner has informed her of conclusions they have reached under S1.7-F33 (1); if not, if she will seek their views; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7461/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 629 and 688 together.

Coroners are statutory officers exercising quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which they are completely independent. It is a matter for individual Coroners how to conduct any death investigation or inquest in accordance with their statutory functions. Individual families may wish to contact the relevant coroner for further details. All coroners’ contact details can be found on www.coroners.ie.

With regard to the Mother and Baby homes, this Government is committed to advancing legislation proposed by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth – the Certain Institutional Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill. The legislation will provide for the establishment of a dedicated Agency to undertake a forensic standard excavation of the site, exhumation and, where possible, identification of the remains, and provide for their respectful reinterment.

This legislation will support intervention at any site where intervention is reasonably required and will effectively displace the relevant statutory and independent roles of both the Gardaí and the Coroner in this particular regard. In particular, the Bill will disapply the exhumation process in section 47 of the Coroners Act 1962.

I have assured the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth of the full cooperation of my Department and its Agencies in implementing the actions set out in the legislation.

Crime Prevention

Questions (630)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

630. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice if she will review all existing approaches to reducing knife crime in Ireland and consider best practice in other jurisdictions in which knife crime has been successfully tackled with a view to implementing positive actions here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6860/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Government is very conscious of the dangers presented by knife crime, and indeed all violent assaults. Clearly any stabbing has the potential to cause irreparable physical harm and tragic consequences and the Government is determined to ensure that similar problems to those which have developed in neighbouring jurisdictions do not develop here in Ireland.

My Department is keeping the law in relation to sentencing for knife crimes, as well as all other policies around knife crimes, such as targeted interventions, under review. This includes considering approaches adopted in other jurisdictions to reduce violent crime, including knife crime.

The Garda Commissioner and I have agreed we should carry out further analysis on the level of violent crime in our society, including with our colleagues in public health.

We discussed drawing lessons from international examples, such as Scotland and London. Although their challenges were significant and perhaps greater than ours, we can still learn from their approach.

The Deputy will be aware that the mission of An Garda Síochána is ‘Keeping People Safe’. This is a simple message, but a very deep one, and An Garda Síochána keep policing practices and strategies under review with a view to providing the best possible responses.

Knives, knife crime, and crime in general, are classified differently across jurisdictions so accurate comparisons are not readily available. With that in mind, it should be noted that research in the UK points to tougher sentencing, generally, not being seen as an effective strategy for reducing knife crime.

There is a comprehensive and robust legal framework in place with respect to knife crime, including heavy penalties for breaches of the laws concerned. Under the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the maximum penalty for a conviction for possessing a knife in a public place without good reason or lawful authority was increased from one to five years.

This is a more severe penalty when compared to the UK where the maximum sentence is four years for possession of a knife or other offensive weapon.

Crime Data

Questions (631)

Richard Bruton

Question:

631. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if the theft of bikes under threat of violence with or without offensive weapons is becoming a growing pattern of crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6873/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on the information requested but unfortunately, the report could not be furnished in the time provided. I will write to the Deputy as soon as the report is to hand.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (632)

Holly Cairns

Question:

632. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice her views on providing an exemption for the requirement of two languages to enter An Garda Síochána for persons who otherwise meet the criteria but have a learning difficulty relating to learning languages such as dyslexia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6905/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána (Admissions & Appointments) Regulations, 2013 and Statutory Instrument 470/2013 govern entry to An Garda Síochána.

Subject to the provisions of these Regulations, a person is only eligible to apply for admission as a trainee where, on the closing date specified in the advertisement for the competition for the vacancy to which the admission relates, he or she has proven proficiency in 2 languages, one of which shall be either English or Irish.

Regarding future considerations on eligibility for entry into An Garda Síochána, the Deputy may already be aware that an Expert Review Group has been established to examine the issue of Garda recruitment, entry pathways and recruit education. This is a commitment under A Policing Service for our Future, the Government’s implementation Plan for the recommendations in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The Group will examine a variety of matters relating to the recruitment of members to An Garda Síochána. The Group operates in an advisory capacity and will submit a report to the Garda Commissioner within 12 months. The question of any revision to the admission regulations will be considered in light of the Group's recommendations.

Assisted Suicide

Questions (633, 648)

Carol Nolan

Question:

633. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if her Department has conducted an analysis of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020; if so, the conclusions of such analysis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6927/21]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

648. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if her Department has conducted an analysis of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020; if so, the conclusions of such analysis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7100/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 648 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the issue of assisted dying is a very complex issue which gives rise to medical, ethical and moral issues, as well as criminal justice and constitutional issues.

The issues fall within the remit of both the Departments of Justice and Health.

The Bill as originally proposed is now subject to pre-committee scrutiny where it will be examined in detail. The Department of Justice has not concluded its analysis of the Bill and that analysis will be informed, in part, by submissions made as part of the pre-committee scrutiny.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (634)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

634. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice if matters raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; if clarity will be provided in relation to the questions raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6961/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy refers to correspondence concerning a series of ongoing independent UK police investigations or reviews into Northern Ireland legacy cases that are collectively described as the Kenova cases and are headed up by former Chief Constable Jon Boutcher.

The Deputy will appreciate that the manner in which these police investigations and reviews are pursued is entirely a matter for Operation Kenova.

The issue of cooperation by An Garda Síochána with Operation Kenova is an operational matter and one in which I do not have a role. I can however inform the Deputy that there are arrangements in place which support the mutual co-operation, assistance and exchange of information between An Garda Síochána and the Operation Kenova Investigation Team and that engagement is ongoing at this time. The Historical Investigation Coordination Unit within An Garda Síochána will continue to support this partnership.

I can advise the Deputy of my continuing commitment to supporting An Garda Síochána in pursuing this work and in providing assistance to the greatest extent possible.

More generally, the Deputy will appreciate that dealing with the legacy of the troubles on this island is a difficult and complex task. The Stormont House Agreement sets out a series of useful measures in this regard to establish effective ways to address the legacy of the troubles. The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of those measures and working in the interests of victims and their families.

Finally, with reference to the specific correspondence raised in this question, I am advised that there are a number of related pieces of correspondence which are receiving attention and that a reply will issue shortly.