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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 486-502

Third Level Staff

Questions (486)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

486. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of academic and research staff employed by the Tyndall Institute; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61830/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I am informed by University College Cork (UCC) that the Tyndall National Institute is a focal point for excellence in deep-tech research, development and graduate training in ICT. As a National Institute that sits in a unique position in Ireland (and internationally) at the mid-point between traditional HEI research activities and the demanding industry interface it is different from a normal academic unit in that its primary focus is not the teaching of undergraduate students but is the development of world class research through the training of postgraduate students for industry and the development of career researchers.

UCC state that the Tyndall National Institute is home to a Research eco-system of 650+ staff, students, academic and industry collaborators. The core research and support staff complement is 477 including 8 Academic/Research Professors. This includes 136 primarily PhD students who are regarded as a critical part of the core research community. Tyndall is also host to approx 30 academic members and researchers from UCC and MTU. In addition Tyndall hosts 100 industry researchers and almost 50 academic visitors and visiting students/interns from a wide range of Irish and international collaborating partners.

Departmental Funding

Questions (487)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

487. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 24 November 2021 and in view of the fact the projected cost range of this project in the NDP is €100 to €250 million, if the project is projected to cost a total of €75 million (details supplied); the other sources of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61831/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

I should first explain this project is managed by the Tyndall National Institute/UCC in the first instance. I understand that the EIB loan of €75m for a new building, together with other investments competitively won through SFI and others such as philanthropy, borrowings and own resources, equates to a total investment package in excess of €100m over the lifetime of the NDP 2018 to 2027.

Departmental Funding

Questions (488)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

488. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the level of direct Exchequer funding that is being provided to deliver the upgrading of the Royal Irish Academy of Music redevelopment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61832/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Co-Funding of €6.8m from my Department with an additional €3m from the Department of Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has been approved for the redevelopment of the Royal Irish Academy of Music's (RIAM) premises at Westland Row. The balance of funding will be supplied by RIAM largely through philanthropy and their own resources.

The redevelopment will facilitate the Academy in expanding its capacity at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including a projected additional 108 full-time students and 1,291 part-time students.

Departmental Funding

Question No. 490 answered with Question No. 470.

Question No. 491 answered with Question No. 470.

Questions (489)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Question:

489. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the level of direct Exchequer funding that is being provided to deliver the upgrading of the E3 Trinity College Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61833/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

Funding of €15m has been approved towards a co-funded building for Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies (E3) on TCD’s main campus.

The new building aims to integrate engineering, technology and the natural sciences in order to strengthen technological innovation and natural capital through world-leading research, education, and entrepreneurship.

Question No. 490 answered with Question No. 470.
Question No. 491 answered with Question No. 470.

Missing Persons

Questions (492)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

492. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding recommendations being implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61134/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to acknowledge the pain and trauma experienced by all families of missing persons in the State.

As the Deputy will be aware, the national DNA database, which is administered by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), has been a significant breakthrough in identifying missing and unknown persons in recent years. To encourage more family members to participate in DNA testing, my Department is developing a targeted outreach, in partnership with An Garda Síochána and FSI, to build on the success of National Missing Persons Day.

To support the work of these organisations, it is crucial that they are aware of all unidentified remains (partial and full) within the State, which fall under coronial jurisdiction. In July, Minister Humphreys wrote to each coroner in the State, requesting that they send my Department the number of unidentified human remains within their coronial districts. These results will be collated by my officials and will be shared with the Missing Persons Unit of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

In order to keep this data up-to-date, from 2022 onwards, coroners will be asked to include details of any unidentified human remains reported to them in the preceding year, as part of their statutory annual returns to the Minister for Justice.

In July, a forum was established by my Department with An Garda Síochána’s Missing Persons Unit, and with FSI, in order to maintain regular communication and information exchange on these very important matters.

I was pleased to participate in this year’s virtual National Missing Persons Day event on 1 December along with Dr. Ciaran MacLoughlin (as a representative of the Coroners Society of Ireland), relatives of missing people, and other key stakeholders. This event provided an important opportunity to remember those who have gone missing as well as raising awareness of the significant contribution made by DNA testing to the conclusion of a considerable number of missing persons cases over recent years.

Prison Service

Questions (493)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

493. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice if she will provide a definitive timeline for the publication of a report commissioned from (details supplied) regarding certain procurement matters involving a company and the Irish Prison Service in view of the fact that the report had been largely completed in September, 2020 but has yet to be published; and if she will publish this report before the end of 2021. [61156/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the relevant review is expected to be completed in early 2022 and will be given detailed consideration within the Department and by the Irish Prison Service at that stage.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (494)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

494. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the progress to date in the determination of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61184/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 12 February 2020. 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.

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.?

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.

In addition, the combined impact of the 2019 High Court judgment in the Jones case and the necessary health restrictions arising from the pandemic, has unfortunately resulted in the processing time for standard applications increasing.

However, my Department is taking a number of steps to speed up the processing of applications and a number of digitisation measures have also been introduced to increase efficiency in the process, including eTax clearance, eVetting and online payments. The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up more staff to focus on processing applications in a timely and efficient manner, to improve service to our customers and reduce waiting times.

This year, we are on track to deliver approximately 11,000 decisions, significantly exceeding the levels achieved in the last two years. Additional staff have also been assigned to the citizenship team. Based on these measures, my Department's objective is to achieve an improved timeframe of 6-9 months for decisions on a majority of applications during 2022.

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.

Cybersecurity Policy

Questions (495)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

495. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice the measures in place to ensure that justice systems including those of An Garda Síochána and the Courts are protected from cyberattacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61202/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department and Agencies take their responsibilities seriously with regard to cyber security and use technologies and procedures to secure their networks. For reasons of operational and national security it would not be appropriate to disclose details of my Department’s cyber security arrangements, or those of State offices, agencies and bodies under my remit.

Any information in relation to cyber security tools and services could assist criminals in identifying potential vulnerabilities in cybersecurity arrangements. Therefore it is not considered appropriate to disclose any such information or make comment which could in any way compromise my Department’s cyber security.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (496)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

496. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Justice the status of an application by a person (details supplied) given the person has been living in Ireland for almost 11 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61212/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

In response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), written representations have been submitted on behalf of the persons concerned. These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, is currently being considered under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation, in advance of a final decision being made.

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.

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (497)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Question:

497. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Justice the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61213/21]

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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.

Coroners Service

Questions (498)

Holly Cairns

Question:

498. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice the steps she is taking to address the backlogs in the Cork City Coroner’s Court; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61239/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Coroners Service is a network of coroners located in districts throughout the country. Coroners are quasi-judicial officers and are independent in the conduct of their functions. Neither I nor my Department has any role in the directing the work of the coroner.

My Department does, however, actively support coroners in the carrying out of their very important service to the public. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, inquests have been severely curtailed in line with public health guidelines. I understand that the coroners are holding, what are referred to as ‘documentary inquests’ or remote inquests, which require very small numbers of attendees and take place with the agreement of families. Larger inquests, requiring multiple witnesses, are being rescheduled to a later date. All coroners are focused on working through the delays caused to inquests by the pandemic.

In order to assist the Coroner for Cork City district, my Department made contact with the Courts Service and have secured additional courtroom space for the coroner in December 2021 and January 2022. The coroner will liaise directly with the Courts Service with a view to the scheduling of inquests.

Departmental Data

Questions (499)

Carol Nolan

Question:

499. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice the titles of the studies referred to on the website of her Department in which it is it suggested that there could be up to 17,000 undocumented persons resident in the State; the location in which such studies can be accessed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61256/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

There is no official data on the number of undocumented people in the State, as such people tend to avoid official notice. The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland has previously estimated that there are some 15,000 to 17,000 undocumented people in the State including 2,000 to 3,000 children. These are estimates and not official statistics.

There are a variety of reasons as to why people become undocumented and therefore the number of undocumented people in the State will fluctuate over time.

When I brought my proposals to Government I made it clear that there was no way of establishing how many people will benefit from the scheme and no firm data existed to help on that point.

Notwithstanding that, I am happy to say that the Government approved my proposal for a once-in-a-generation scheme to regularise thousands of undocumented migrants and their families who are living in Ireland. We are demonstrating the same goodwill and generosity of spirit that we ask is shown to the countless Irish people who left this island to build their lives elsewhere.

The Government’s decision will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind about their right to live and work in Ireland to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances.

The time-limited scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for six months. Further details regarding the qualifying criteria and the opening date for the scheme will be published on my Department's Irish Immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie) in due course.

Visa Applications

Questions (500)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

500. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice when a visa will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); if the visa can be expedited given all is in order to proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61271/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The person referred to by the Deputy created an online employment visa application on 7 November 2021. The supporting documentation and fees were received on 17 November 2021 in the New Delhi Visa Office. Their application was examined in detail and a decision was made to refuse their visa on 25 November 2021. The reasons for the refusal are outlined in the refusal letter.

It is open to the applicant to appeal this decision. To date, no appeal of this decision has been received by the Visa Office. An appeal must be submitted within two months of the date on the letter of refusal and can be submitted by post only.

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.

An Garda Síochána

Questions (501)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

501. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of new unmarked Garda cars and vans that were assigned to Garda National Immigration Bureau in 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and the number of these vehicles that were withdrawn from the Bureau during the same period. [61281/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase and distribution of Garda resources such as Garda vehicles. As Minister for Justice, I have no direct role in these matters.

I am advised however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends.

Budget 2022 provides over €2 billion in funding to An Garda Síochána. Very significant capital investment is being made in An Garda Síochána, including the provision for a capital budget of €147 million for An Garda Síochána’s ICT and Building Programme and ongoing investment in the organisation’s transport fleet. An Garda Síochána, recognising the need to be visible and accessible in communities but also conscious of taking proactive actions to reduce their carbon footprint, will purchase an additional 100 mountain bikes and increased numbers of electrical vehicles as part of an overall fleet management strategy.

I am informed that 5 unmarked cars were allocated to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in 2020 and 3 unmarked cars to date in 2021. I am further informed that no unmarked vehicles have been removed from GNIB fleet in 2020 or to date in 2021.

An Garda Síochána

Questions (502)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

502. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí who successfully completed the advanced motorcycle course in 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and the duration of this course. [61282/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including Garda training matters. I, as Minister, have no role in such matters.

I have been provided with the figures in the table below by the Garda authorities, which outlines the number of Gardaí who completed the advanced motorcycle course in 2020 and to date in 2021. I have also included the pre-pandemic figure for 2019 for the Deputy's information. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the course is ten days in duration.

Year

Advanced Motorcycle Course

2019

30

2020

Nil

2021 to date

7

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