Residency Permits

Questions (582)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

582. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if an appointment for registration can be offered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7902/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Due to the public health restrictions currently in place under Level 5 of the Government's Framework for Restrictive Measures in Response to Covid-19, the Registration Office in Burgh Quay has been closed since 23 December 2020, and until further notice.

The requirement to register an immigration permission in person, for those living in Dublin, will not arise until the Registration Office reopens in line with the Government’s Roadmap. First time registrations require the taking of biometric information (fingerprints) so it is not possible to do these registrations online.

Customers, residing in Dublin, who had appointments cancelled for a first-time registration and who provided a valid email address when making their appointment, will be contacted by the Immigration Service of my Department and given a new appointment date.

Registrations outside of the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau through the Garda Station network. Information on the contact details for all the registration offices outside Dublin is available at: https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/office-of-corporate-communications/news-media/reopening-of-registration-offices.html.

People who have a valid permission issued by the Immigration Service of my Department, that has not yet been registered may, in circumstances where an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card would normally be required, ask the relevant service provider to accept their permission letter where evidence is provided of having attempted to have that permission registered.

Further updates will be provided on the Immigration Service website when available at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/COVID-19-updates-and-announcements.

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.

Crime Data

Questions (583)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

583. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice the number of convictions for sexual assault, sexual violence or rape since 2011 in each county; and the sentences attached to each conviction. [7904/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. This includes the provision of information on the courts system.

To be of assistance, I made enquiries with the Courts Service, who have informed me that statistics relevant to the information sought by the Deputy, insofar as they are available, are set out in the Courts Service Annual Reports which are published on the Courts Service website.

The Courts Service have further informed me that prior to 2015 the figures retained relate to overall offences and so are unlikely to yield the information sought by the Deputy but that from 2015 to date the figures have been recorded in a way that may provide information more comparable to that requested. I have asked the Courts Service to look at this and revert to the Deputy with any further breakdown available to expand on the information set out in the annual reports from 2015-2019. I understand the figures for 2020 are currently being compiled in preparation for the publication of the 2020 Annual Report.

All annual reports are available on - https://www.courts.ie/annual-report.

Departmental Reports

Questions (584)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

584. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice if the report in relation to the difficulties experienced by a person (details supplied) in a prison will be published; if the Director General of the Irish Prison Service has issued recommendations on the basis of the report; if she actioned these recommendations; if so, the recommendations actioned; and the actions that were taken. [7910/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to go into detail in relation to individual prisoner matters.

I can advise the Deputy that under Rule 57 (B) of the Prison Rules 2007, SI 11/2013 a Category A investigation is carried out by an external investigator appointed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service. Following the completion of this investigation, the investigator shall submit a report to the Governor, unless the Governor is the subject of the complaint, and the Director General.

Under Section 10 (b) of Rule 57 (b), The Governor, or the Director General where the Governor is the subject of the complaint shall make his or her finding on the basis of the report that:

(i) there are reasonable grounds for sustaining the complaint,

(ii) there are no reasonable grounds for sustaining the complaint,

or

(iii) it has not been possible to make a determination as set out at (i) or (ii) above

and may state the reasons for his or her finding.

The Governor or the Director General where the Governor is the subject of the complaint shall also decide what action, if any, should be taken and this shall be documented.

While I understand that arrangements are being made to action the recommendations made on foot of the report, it should be noted that there is no provision in the Prison Rules for investigation reports or Governors findings to be made public.

Legislative Reviews

Questions (585)

Michael McNamara

Question:

585. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice the progress of the review into the operation of the Special Criminal Court and the Offenses Against the State Act 1939 promised by her predecessor; the person or body the review is being carried out by; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7911/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Further to my response of 15 December 2020 in relation to this matter, I can inform the Deputy that on 16 February I brought a Memorandum to Cabinet informing the Government of my proposals for the establishment of a group of experts to undertake an independent review of the Offences Against the State legislation.

The Deputy will appreciate it is important that those tasked with carrying out the review have the requisite independence, expertise and experience. The membership of the group has been finalised and will be chaired by Mr. Justice Michael Peart, former Judge of the Court of Appeal. The other members of the Group are -

Dr Alan Greene, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham;

Ms Anne-Marie Lawlow SC, Barrister;

Ms Caitlín Ní Fhlaitheartaigh, former Advisory Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General;

Professor Donncha O'Connell, School of Law, NUI Galway;

Mr Ken O'Leary, former Deputy Secretary General at the Department of Justice.

The review will examine all aspects of the legislation, taking into account the current threat posed by domestic and international terrorism and organised crime. The group will commence its work by 1 March and I have requested that an interim report be provided within three months with an indication of the timescale required to complete this work.

Protected Disclosures

Questions (586)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

586. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice the status of the protected disclosures that have been made in relation to Portlaoise Prison and the Irish Prison Service; and if she will meet the author of the protected disclosure. [7951/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the Protected Disclosures Act was enacted in 2014 to allow employees to bring alleged wrongdoing to the attention of the appropriate authorities. The Act also affords very important protections to persons making protected disclosures.

The protection of those wishing to make a protected disclosure rightly prioritises the confidentiality of the process, which is central to the efficacy of that process. I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate therefore, that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on nor confirm the existence of any specific protected disclosure.

Under my Department's Protected Disclosure policy, disclosures are the subject of independent assessment and investigation processes and as such it would not be appropriate for me, as Minister, to meet with any individual involved in an on-going investigation being carried out on foot of a protected disclosure.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (587)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

587. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the progress to date in the determination of eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7968/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department requested further documentation from the person concerned on 31 August 2020. To date, this documentation has not been received. On receipt of the requested documentation, the application for naturalisation will be fully considered 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 in due course.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. 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.

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 at 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 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.

Immigration Policy

Questions (588)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

588. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice if she will review the naturalisation and citizenship application process and timelines for front-line workers following several reports from front-line workers who have been waiting a year and a half to two years for their naturalisation applications to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8092/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I recognise the crucial role healthcare 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 played a vital part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with legislation. There are no provisions to apply different criteria depending on the category of employment of the applicant and statistics are not maintained by the Immigration Service of my Department to enable me to provide details of the profession of applicants. All applicants are required to meet minimum periods of reckonable residence and standard checks are carried out as part of the overall process to maintain its integrity.

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 announce last month 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 4,000 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 recently issued. 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.

In addition to the provision of an alternative platform to large-scale citizenship ceremonies, work is well advanced on the following suite of measures designed to deal with the current unprecedented level of demand being witnessed:

- Additional staffing resources are being assigned to the Citizenship Division. Attendant to this development, restructuring of the organisational structure of the Division is currently underway to ensure optimal customer service delivery.

- In the context of communications, the Citizenship website has been significantly revamped to make it more user friendly, As part of this process, a new online chat conversation application, or “Chatbot” called Tara was introduced last December. This provides users with an instant response to frequently asked questions and mimics real-time text or message exchanges with a member of staff. There have been over 10,000 interactions on the Chatbot since it launched.

- Plans for the digitalisation of the naturalisation process are also well advanced, through increased digital and ICT investment. As part of this process, eTax-clearance for citizenship applicants has been introduced. Online payments have been trialled for applications from minors and the process is currently being rolled out to adult applications on a phased basis.

The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up additional resources to focus on enhanced customer service delivery, ensuring the integrity of the process is protected and processing applications in a timely and efficient manner.

International Protection

Questions (589)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

589. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 244 of 9 September 2020, if she has considered the report of the chairperson of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in relation to the matter; the actions taken on foot of the report; if the report will be published; if a review of all IPAT decisions made by the person will be undertaken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8096/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) is a statutorily independent body and exercises a quasi-judicial function under the International Protection Act 2015. I can confirm that a report was received from the Tribunal’s chairperson on the matter referred to by the Deputy. Given the circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Any decision in relation to reviewing decisions made on appeals is a matter for the Chairperson of the Tribunal, who is independent in their functions under the International Protection Act 2015.

IPAT also has a process in place to quality assure decisions taken, including external validation, on an ongoing basis.

Ireland follows the guidance of the UNHCR and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) in relation to claims for international protection. Training for International Protection Office (IPO) caseworkers and interviewers and IPAT Tribunal Members is very comprehensive and is conducted in conjunction with the UNHCR and EASO. The IPO training includes a module in relation to interview techniques and how interviews are conducted. The Tribunal provides initial as well as ongoing training to its Members, including modules on evidence and credibility assessments and the conduct of hearings.

The Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm (DSSH) model has also been incorporated into training for caseworkers and Tribunal Members. The model is designed to help the applicant provide a detailed narrative and to be a sensitive and appropriate way of assessing credibility in sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) claims. The DSSH model is endorsed by the UNHCR and has been adopted by Finland, Sweden, the UK and Ireland amongst other countries. In addition, further written guidance on assessing SOGI claims has been provided to all staff and panel members.

Crime Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.

Our Shared Future

Questions (590)

Carol Nolan

Question:

590. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if changes have been made with respect to the way rural crime is recorded and classified following the recommendation of the March 2019 report on community policing and rural crime from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8112/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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 590 for answer on 17 February 2021, in which you asked if changes have been made with respect to the way rural crime is recorded and classified following the recommendation of the March 2019 Report on Community Policing and Rural Crime from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
You will recall that the information could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to consult with An Garda Síochána and to contact you again when the information became available.
I can assure the Deputy that I am very much aware of the impact of crime on rural communities and I am committed to ensuring that there is strong, visible community policing right across rural Ireland.
The Programme for Government, Our Shared Future , underlines the need for close engagement between An Garda Síochána and local communities. This is an essential feature of the strong community policing ethos which has long been central to policing in this jurisdiction. Consequently, the Programme for Government commits to prioritising visible policing in rural and urban communities.
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.
There are now approximately 14,500 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide and Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 450 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff, subject to the public health restrictions governing the operation of the Garda College, Templemore.
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.
The Winter Phase of Operation Thor began on 1 October 2020 and will run until the end of March 2021. Operation Thor is designed to specifically tackle the increase in the number of burglaries and associated criminal activity that usually occurs in the winter months by undertaking targeted enforcement and preventative activity.
This initiative has successfully reduced the rate of residential burglaries at this time of year by 41% since its introduction in 2015.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that there have not been any changes made with respect to the way rural crime is recorded and classified following the recommendation of the March 2019 Report on Community Policing and Rural Crime from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
I hope this information is of assistance.

Community Policing

Questions (591)

Carol Nolan

Question:

591. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice the status of the work her Department has undertaken with respect to the recommendations on community policing contained in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing: The Future of Policing in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8113/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to the rapid implementation of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI). My objective is to deliver a new approach to policing and community safety, increasing police visibility in communities and focusing on preventing crime and harm, and delivering a professional, ethical, modern and effective police and security service that is well-managed, cost-effective, properly trained and equipped, and is clearly accountable.

I will shortly bring the draft scheme of a new Policing and Community Safety Bill to Government. The Bill has been developed based on the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing.

The Bill has five main objectives to improve the performance of our policing and security services to deliver our commitment that every community has a right to be and feel safe. This legislation will:

1. Make community safety an all of government responsibility

2. Strengthen independent, external oversight of An Garda Síochána

3. Strengthen the governance of An Garda Síochána

4. Improve the oversight of our national security infrastructure

5. Establish and prioritise the creation of Local Community Safety Partnerships

To deliver on our objective that every community has a right to be safe, we will put safety and perception of safety of communities at the heart of this legislation. Ensuring that a community can get the right support at the right time is important if we want to tackle crime with a coherent approach. This means ensuring that the non-crime related activity of harm prevention, such as providing services to people with mental health and addiction conditions, homeless people, children, elderly and others at risk, is properly addressed.

In the Bill, the prevention of harm will be a specific objective of An Garda Síochána recognising the vital work Gardaí do on the ground every day. Furthermore, promoting safer communities through preventing crime and harm - particularly to individuals who are vulnerable or at risk - will be a shared responsibility involving other Departments and agencies such as health and social services, local authorities and the wider community working together.

I can further inform the Deputy that my Department has developed a Community Safety Policy, based on the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, and which has informed the drafting of the Policing and Community Safety Bill.

Local Community Safety Partnerships are the new local structures proposed in the Community Safety Policy. These Partnerships will operate at local authority administrative level and replace and build upon Joint Policing Committees. They will be made up of local representatives, local services, community representatives and residents. Local Community Safety Partnerships will take a strategic approach to their work so that issues arising can be dealt with in a coordinated manner, and addressed collectively by relevant service providers in partnership with the community. Pilot partnerships are to be launched in Dublin's North Inner City Electoral Area, Waterford and Longford.

Garda Data

Questions (592)

Carol Nolan

Question:

592. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice the number of Garda interventions involving persons self-harming or harming others due to mental health issues; the resources that have been made available to ensure that members of An Garda Síochána are adequately trained to deal with these complex situations and that they have 24/7 access to the supports of appropriate specialist services when required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8114/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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

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

Naturalisation Eligibility

Questions (593, 594)

Mark Ward

Question:

593. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice the naturalisation process for persons who were married to Irish citizens for over ten years but have now faced bereavement. [8128/21]

View answer

Mark Ward

Question:

594. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice if a naturalisation application is unnecessary after a period of time which has passed if a person is married to an Irish citizen for over that extended period of time. [8129/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 594 together.

A person who was married to an Irish citizen but is now bereaved will need to apply for a Certificate of Naturalisation as a Standard Adult. If granted naturalisation, they will pay the reduced fee of €200 for the Certificate of Naturalisation.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received. Therefore all applicants for a certificate of naturalisation must submit an application which will then be processed and assessed individually in accordance with the relevant legislative provisions of the 1956 Act as amended.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory conditions as prescribed in the Act.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Questions (595)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

595. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of GSOC officers who have availed of accredited education, further education and or training since taking up their posts since GSOC was established; and her plans to provide links to further accredited training and education through equivalents in other jurisdictions. [8131/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) that over 225 staff members have been employed at one time or another in GSOC since its establishment in May 2007. All of these staff members will have been provided with a level of appropriate training to equip them with the knowledge and skills required to discharge their respective operational and administrative functions while working in GSOC.

Since 2007, approximately 65% of the staff employed by GSOC have availed of accredited education or further education either provided directly by GSOC or paid for by GSOC under the Refund of Fees Scheme provided for under Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 23/2007. This Scheme has facilitated GSOC in building appropriate skills and expertise levels and supporting staff members’ efforts in the area of self-development and lifelong learning.

GSOC is currently putting in place a comprehensive Learning and Development Strategy which will identify key learning and development needs for all its staff and how these will be delivered over the period 2021-23, together with the resources required to ensure that GSOC staff have the appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise commensurate with carrying out their functions to the required standard.

Legislative Measures

Questions (596)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

596. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the legislative arrangement of having Garda superintendents investigate complaints from members of the public given GSOC is now obliged to carry out same under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007. [8132/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that Sections 83 to 101 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, set out rules and processes defining how GSOC must deal with complaints.

All complaints received by GSOC are assessed against criteria listed in the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to determine if they are admissible. This process determines whether a complaint is about behaviour which would, if proven, constitute a criminal offence or a breach of Garda discipline by a member of An Garda Síochána.

Criminal investigations by GSOC are conducted in accordance with Section 98 of the Act. All allegations of criminal offences by Gardaí (for example assault) are investigated by GSOC’s own investigators.

There are three ways allegations of breaches of discipline can be handled:

1. Unsupervised disciplinary investigations (under section 94 (1) of the Act) are conducted by Garda superintendents in line with the Garda Discipline Regulations. The Protocols between GSOC and the Garda Síochána say that unsupervised investigations must be completed and a final report issued to GSOC within 16 weeks. An example of the kind of case that is investigated in this way is an allegation that there was abuse of authority in the manner in which an arrest was conducted. The local intervention process allows for the resolution of some complaints at a local level; complaints resolved in this way do not become the subject of formal investigation.

2. Supervised disciplinary investigations (under section 94(5) of the Act) are also conducted by Garda superintendents but are supervised by GSOC investigators who meet with the Garda superintendents to agree an investigation plan. The GSOC investigator can direct and partake in the investigative actions, and must receive interim reports. The Protocols say that supervised disciplinary investigations must be completed and an investigation report provided within 20 weeks. Supervised investigations are appropriate in more serious allegations of neglect of duty, for example, lack of, or insufficient, investigation of a serious crime reported to Gardaí.

3. Non-criminal investigation by GSOC (under section 95 of the Act) – Certain cases which do not appear to involve criminal offences, but which may involve disciplinary and/or systemic matters, are undertaken by the Garda Ombudsman’s own investigators. Disciplinary investigations which follow on from criminal investigations would be among this kind of non-criminal investigation undertaken by GSOC investigators.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Questions (597)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

597. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of protected disclosures made to GSOC since its establishment; the number that required the engagement of a third-party consultant in order to process them; and the costs of same. [8133/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was established as a statutorily independent body under the Garda Síochána Act 2005. I, as Minister, have no role or function in the processing or management of complaints which are made to GSOC for investigation.

I am informed by GSOC that the table below gives the number of protected disclosures made to GSOC under sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Protected Disclosures Act, 2014 i.e. from employees of GSOC (section 6) and employees of the Garda Síochána (sections 7 and 8).

Year

Number of Disclosures under section 6

Number of Disclosures under sections 7 and 8

1 July 2014 to 31 December 2016

Nil

11

2017

Nil

22

2018

Nil

24

2019

Nil

31

In accordance with the statutory reporting obligation under section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014, GSOC publishes these figures every spring in their Protected Disclosures Annual Reports. The 2014 to 2019 reports are available on the GSOC website (https://www.gardaombudsman.ie/gardai/protected-disclosures-annual-report/).

I am further advised that GSOC does not use third party consultants to process protected disclosures.

Garda Operations

Questions (598)

Richard O'Donoghue

Question:

598. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons arrested and charged with possession of drugs for sale or supply within Limerick Garda division in 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8141/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am assured by the Garda authorities that the occurrence and prevalence of crime and anti-social behaviour, including drug dealing, is constantly monitored at national and local level by Garda management to ensure that appropriate policing responses are designed and delivered as appropriate.

The below tables, furnished to me by An Garda Síochána, contain the number of incidents reported to An Garda Síochána, for the period in question, in the Limerick Division which have been recorded as ‘Possession of Drugs for Sale or Supply’.

Reported ‘Possession of Drugs for Sale or Supply’ incidents for the years 2020 & 2021 YTD – Limerick Division.

Incidents Reported

2020

2021 YTD

Possession of Drugs for Sale or Supply

227

21

Reported ‘Possession of Drugs for Sale or Supply’ incidents for the years 2020 to present with one or more associated charge or summons to date – Limerick Division.

Charge/Summons

2020 - Present

Possession of Drugs for Sale or Supply

106

I am informed that these figures were based on collated data from the PULSE system as of 11 February 2021.

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) has lead responsibility in tackling all forms of drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs in Ireland and is supported by Divisional Drugs Units, which tackle drug related crime on a local basis throughout the country. I am further informed that Divisional Drug Units are now established in every Garda Division.

Since its establishment in March 2016, GNDOCB has been responsible for the seizure of a total of 133 firearms, 209 million worth of illicit drugs, 5,516 rounds of ammunition and €21.7 million in cash. In 2020 alone, GNDOCB has seized 36.7 million worth of illicit drugs, 23 firearms, 2,131 rounds of ammunition, €8 million in cash and have made 228 arrests.

An Garda Síochána also remains committed to tackling the supply of drugs by supporting local communities through various preventative and detection initiatives and engagement with local and regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces; the Garda Youth Diversion Programme and Projects; the Garda Schools Programme; the Joint Policing Committees and Community Policing Fora.

The Deputy will also be aware, the Department is developing a community safety policy, which is aimed at ensuring communities are safe and feel safe, through the establishment of inter-agency structures called Local Community Safety Partnerships. These proposals are contained in the Policing and Community Safety Bill, which is being worked on at present in my Department and the proposed approach will be rolled out and tested in three pilot locations this year.

Garda Operations

Questions (599)

Richard O'Donoghue

Question:

599. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Justice the number of cars, jeeps and motorcycles attached to the Limerick roads policing unit as of 31 December 2019 and 8 February 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8142/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána and deployment of resources. This includes responsibility for personnel matters and the distribution of personnel across the various Garda Divisions, including Roads Policing Units. 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 advised that the responsibility for the efficient deployment of all official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between Stations as required by operational circumstances.

The Garda Commissioner established the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau to ensure a consistent approach to road safety and enforcement of road traffic legislation across the country. This is achieved through coordination of enforcement and development of policy based on research and analysis of statistics and by engaging in campaigns in partnership with other State agencies.

I understand that in addition to a focus on the lifesaver offences of speeding, seatbelts, mobile phones and driving under the influence, Divisional Roads Policing Units work closely with other relevant Divisional Units to target known criminals and to disrupt their activities through strict enforcement of road traffic legislation.

The table below, furnished to me by the Garda authorities, shows the breakdown of vehicles attached to the Roads Policing Unit in Limerick Division as of the dates requested by the Deputy.

Limerick Division – Roads Policing Duty

-

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4 x 4

Others

Total

10/02/2021

4

0

5

1

0

10

31/12/2019

6

1

3

1

0

11

Ministerial Correspondence

Questions (600)

Michael McNamara

Question:

600. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice when the report which she received from a person (details supplied) on 3 November 2020 will be shared with the family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8161/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that an inquiry under Section 42 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 was conducted by former Judge Patrick Clyne into the Garda Síochána investigation relating to the death of Mr Patrick Nugent in 1984.

I can inform the Deputy that Judge Clyne completed his inquiry on 31 October 2020 and my Department received Judge Clyne’s report on 3 November 2020. The advice of the Attorney General is being sought on the matter of publication and on receipt of those advices I expect to be in a position to advise on the timelines further, but unfortunately I am not in a position to do so at this juncture. I do appreciate however that Mr. Nugent's family are anxiously awaiting the outcome of Judge Clyne's investigation and I will be in touch with them as soon as it is possible to do so.

Deportation Orders

Questions (601)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

601. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons that have been deported in 2021 to date. [8168/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

In line with the clear commitments both I and the Taoiseach have given, no further Deportation Orders are being enforced during the pandemic, except in circumstances where there are national security or serious public policy concerns. My Department has consistently adopted a pragmatic approach in this area in the context of Covid-19.

In line with this commitment, I can further confirm that, as of 17 February 2021, there has been one enforced deportation from the State since the beginning of the year.

Garda Data

Questions (602)

Patrick Costello

Question:

602. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the number of districts and divisions of An Garda Síochána that have protective services units; and the number of personnel assigned to each, in tabular form. [8228/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility, by law, 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 our 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

Courts Staff

Questions (603)

Joe Flaherty

Question:

603. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Justice if she will request the appointment of a court messenger to the Sheriff’s Court attached to Longford Courthouse (details supplied). [8277/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in its functions. Moreover, Sheriffs (or County Registrars acting as Sheriffs) are officers of the Court and are also independent in the exercise of their functions and duties under statute and rules of court.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made. I can confirm that a suitable candidate was selected and employed by the Courts Service from 12 March 2018 to be the Court Messenger for Roscommon and Longford. I have been advised that the person selected has taken up their duties in County Roscommon, and is available to carry out his duties in County Longford immediately once he has received his Warrant of Appointment from the County Registrar for Longford.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (604)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

604. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the status of an application by a person (details supplied); when they can expect a response on their status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8330/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

For reasons of maintaining full confidentiality, it is not my Department's practice to comment on whether an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State. An applicant for such protection status, or their legal representative, should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

The IPO may be contacted: by email to info@ipo.gov.ie; by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

The IPAT may be contacted either: by email to info@protectionappeals.ie; by telephone at 01-4748400 (or Lo-Call 1890 201 458), or in writing to Corporate Services Division, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal, 6-7 Hanover Street East, Dublin D02 W320.

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.

Garda Operations

Questions (605)

Holly Cairns

Question:

605. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the investigations, reviews and actions that have commenced in relation to the fatal shooting of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8335/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I extend my deepest sympathies to all those impacted by the tragic event in Hartstown, and in particular to the family of the late Mr George Nkencho. All fatal shootings are deeply distressing, and I know that the local community are experiencing real trauma as a result of these events.

As is the case in every incident involving a member of An Garda Síochána that results in the death of a person, the shooting is being fully and independently investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), which is chaired by a High Court Judge, the Hon Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring.

Such incidents are very rare in Ireland but all are fully investigated independently. GSOC have written to my Department to confirm that they have begun a criminal investigation under section 98 of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005. As the Deputy may be aware, GSOC can make wider systemic recommendations on issues they investigate and they are free to do that in this instance also.

I know that Gardaí have also been engaging with the local community with regard to the trauma caused by the incident, and family liaison officers from both GSOC and An Garda Síochána are available to the Nkencho family.

At the same time, Gardaí are investigating the incidents at Hartstown Shopping Centre and the events leading to the shooting. There are well established protocols in place between GSOC and the Gardaí to allow these parallel but separate investigations to take place.

As this tragic event is the subject of separate and independent investigations, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further as I do not wish to pre-empt the outcome of these investigations.

Departmental Staff

Questions (606)

Holly Cairns

Question:

606. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the number of instances of officials in her Department requesting conscience-based refusal in dealing with legislation or the administration of areas of Departmental responsibility that have occurred since 1 January 2017; the legislation or areas concerned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8336/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised that issues raised around the undertaking of particular work by staff members would be dealt with, in the normal course, by the line management of the officer concerned and/or by Human Resources. My Department's HR Division has advised that there are no formal records of staff raising conscience based refusal that they are aware of but that if such a request was received it may have been dealt with informally.