Citizenship Status

Ceisteanna (152)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

152. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason a person (details supplied) does not have an automatic entitlement to citizenship. [5064/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The Act provides that if either of a child's parents was, at the time of that child's birth, an Irish citizen, that child is an Irish citizen irrespective of the place of birth. In this particular case as neither parent was an Irish citizen at the time of the child's birth, the child does not have any automatic entitlement to be an Irish citizen under the Act.

Section 6A of the Act also provides that a child born in the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 has an entitlement to Irish citizenship if, at the time of the birth of the child, one of his or her parents had, during the period of 4 years immediately preceding the person's birth, been resident in the island of Ireland for a period of not less than 3 years or periods the aggregate of which is not less than 3 years. Periods of unlawful residence, periods of residence which were for the sole purpose of having an application for refugee status determined or periods of residence where permission was granted for the purposes of study are excluded under the Act from the determination of periods of reckonable residence.

Where a child born in the State did not at birth have an entitlement to Irish citizenship, the parent or guardian or person who is in loco parentis to the child may lodge an application for naturalisation on behalf of the child if and when the conditions for naturalisation are satisfied, including a requirement to have 5 years residence in the State. Detailed information on citizenship and the naturalisation process, including the relevant application forms, is available on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website at www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Legal Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (153)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

153. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 495 of 16 January 2018, his plans to establish the review committee under section 62 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5068/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am very pleased to be able to reply to Deputy Daly further to my Written Reply to her previous Question No. 495 of 16 January 2018.

The Review Committee provided for under section 62 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 to which the Deputy has referred is part of the new complaints process that will apply to those less serious consumer level complaints dealt with under sections 60 and 61 of that Act, respectively. That is to say, complaints about behaviour around inadequate services or excessive fees at a level that would not amount to "professional misconduct" as such. This level of complaint would be considered more amenable to early, informal resolution between the client and lawyer concerned with the facilitation of the Authority. The section 62 Review Committee allows those seeking to informally resolve complaints at this more minor level the option of having their cases reviewed. The Review Committee will, therefore, only deal with those consumer level complaints received and informally processed by the Regulatory Authority as such under Part 6 of the 2015 Act when that Part is commenced. It will be set up, at the appropriate time, by the independent Legal Services Regulatory Authority under the specific terms of section 62 of the 2015 Act. A determination by the Review Committee can be appealed by the client or the legal practitioner concerned to the High Court.

The Review Committee will not be dealing with those more serious complaints alleging professional misconduct that will be processed through the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and its Complaints Committee on a separate and more formal track. This, of course, can include referral of a case to the independent Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal that will deal with allegations of professional misconduct by both barristers and solicitors and will be amenable to the High Court. Such "misconduct" will include within its scope the charging of legal fees that are deemed to be at a grossly excessive level as well as those other matters of misconduct that are set out under section 50 of the 2015 Act.

For clarity, it should also be noted that the section 62 Review Committee to which the Deputy has referred will not, when established, have any retrospective role in relation to the review of complaints that may have been made to the Law Society under the present procedures that apply under the Solicitors' Acts. Any such complaints will have to be dealt with and completed under the existing law and procedures that apply for that purpose.

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority is now established as an independent entity on a secure legislative footing and has recently appointed its first full-time Chief Executive and secured enhanced office accommodation. The Authority's current working focus is, I understand, very much on the managed roll-out of its remaining functions with the relevant staffing and supporting infrastructure properly in place. It is being supported in that endeavour by my Department. This will include the key structural reforms of Part 6 of the 2015 Act relating to public complaints on the respective consumer and professional misconduct levels. It will also include the appointment of the section 62 Review Committee, the Complaints Committee and the Legal Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal under the terms of the Act. As I have previously conveyed to the Dáil, I will continue to emphasise the importance which I attach as Minister to the objective of getting the Authority open for business on the core public complaints function as quickly as is reasonably possible.

Refugee Data

Ceisteanna (154)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

154. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of refugee women and children coming to County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5074/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, refugees have been allocated to individual counties pro-rata based on the overall population of the county in order to ensure equity in terms of distribution. Under this system 90 refugees have been allocated to Monaghan County Council for resettlement. This number comprises 22 women, 46 children and 19 men. A further 3 people will be allocated in due course.

The Local Authority of the county in question has established and is chairing an inter-agency working group. All key service providers, including my Department, are represented on the working group which oversees the resettlement process. My Department has arranged to have funding provided to the Local Authority to employ, through an implementing partner, a Resettlement Support Worker for a period of 18 months and also an Intercultural Worker for a period of 12 months who will assist the families to negotiate the early months in their new community and to access local services. This funding is partly supported by the European Union's Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Internal Audits

Ceisteanna (155)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

155. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has completed an external quality assurance assessment of its internal audit function as required by the Institute of Internal Auditors standards that were introduced in 2012 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5115/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy my Department has drafted a tender to undertake an external quality assurance assessment of its internal audit function. It is planned that this assessment will take place in 2018.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (156)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

156. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions that have been taken by An Garda Síochána to put in place a director of data quality as recommended by the Garda Inspectorate report, Changing Policing in Ireland; his views on the value of such a position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5139/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Garda Inspectorate in its report "Changing Policing in Ireland" recommended that An Garda Síochána establish a new Garda civilian staff position of Director of Data Quality responsible for data quality assurance across the organisation and specific line management of relevant Divisions.

The Government on 11 April 2017 agreed that the governance of An Garda Síochána should be strengthened through the appointment of three additional civilians to the senior management team - a Chief Information Officer, an Executive Director - Legal and Compliance and an Executive Director - Strategy and Transformation. These latter two posts have been filled.

The competition for the position of Chief Data Officer is being undertaken by the Public Appointment Service (PAS) on behalf of the Top Level Appointments Committee as is generally the case with civilian service posts at this senior level. The competition was advertised by PAS on 17 November 2017 with a closing date for applications of 7 December 2017. I understand that the competition is currently being progressed by PAS and that it is expected that an appointment will be made shortly.

Reporting to Deputy Commissioner Strategy and Governance, the Chief Data Officer will have ownership of all organisational data and responsibility for data quality with line responsibility for the following operational areas: Data Management; Information management; Garda Information Services Centre; Garda National Vetting Bureau, Garda Síochána Analysis Service, Fixed Charge Penalty Office; Data Protection; and Freedom of Information.

Civilianisation is a key part of the Government's Five Year Reform and High-level Workforce Plan for An Garda Síochána. It has a substantial role to play in addressing critical skills gaps and capacity issues across the organisation. Already, as I have stated civilians have been appointed to newly created senior leadership posts at Executive Director level to take responsibility for the portfolios of Strategy & Transformation and Legal & Compliance. The Chief Data Officer when appointed will operate at this level. These newly created leadership posts support the major reform programme underway within An Garda Síochána and will assist in bringing diverse perspectives and management skills to the top levels in the organisation.

I have previously expressed my concerns regarding data issues within An Garda Síochána. It is imperative that data be managed and used correctly and effectively. The Chief Data Officer will bring further leadership at a senior level in relation to the management of data and I believe that this is a very positive development for An Garda Síochána.

Crime Data

Ceisteanna (157, 158)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

157. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the report on the review of possible misclassification of homicide cases will be published; if he has received a version of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5140/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

158. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on reports that a significant number of potential homicide cases were misclassified between 2013 and 2015; the actions he will take to ensure that past errors are rectified and not repeated in the future. [5141/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.

I can advise the Deputy that An Garda Síochána is working with the CSO to resolve an issue which emerged in relation to the classification of homicide offences. The expert oversight by the CSO of crime statistics is welcome in order to ensure that we can have confidence in the official crime statistics and can tailor our policies accordingly.

The Deputy will be aware that when a homicide occurs, the offence may be classified as murder, manslaughter or violent death. Of course in all the cases in question the crime was recorded and recorded as a homicide. My understanding is that an issue emerged due to the fact that the classification of a crime may change as investigations evolve, for example, a murder charge may ultimately lead to a manslaughter conviction in the Courts, or an assault causing harm may subsequently result in a death some time later, necessitating a reclassification to murder or manslaughter.

An Garda Síochána initiated a review of homicide classifications, initially for the period 2013-2015 but later extended the review to cover the period from 2003-2017. This is obviously a time consuming and complex process but it is important that both An Garda Síochána and the CSO are confident that their data is robust and accurate. While the review is underway, the CSO has suspended the publication of quarterly crime statistics with the most recent figures being for Q4 2016. The review has not been published as it is not yet complete however the details will be made public on completion.

While I note that a figure of 41 deaths requiring reclassification has been mentioned in public discourse, this is incorrect. An Garda Síochána has advised that the examination of 524 cases for the period 2013-2015 identified 41 cases which required further examination and, out of those 41 cases, 12 deaths were identified which required reclassifications on PULSE - a total of 2.3% of all cases reviewed.

It is important to note that, in the review of the 41 cases, it was identified that each death was fully investigated by An Garda Síochána. An Garda Síochána has also indicated that their Family Liaison Officers were in contact with the families of the 12 deceased persons whose PULSE records required reclassification.

The Policing Authority continues to monitor this issue and ensure that there is independent scrutiny of how An Garda Síochána records data and I welcome their continued diligence in this matter. I also note the statement made by the Authority earlier today indicating that these issues will be considered again at the Authority's meeting with the Garda Commissioner, to be held in public on 22 February 2018.

In advance of this meeting, I can also advise the Deputy that I, along with officials from my Department, will be meeting with representatives from the Policing Authority and An Garda Síochána next week to discuss the progress being made on this important issue.

My Department remains in close contact with the CSO and An Garda Síochána to ensure an early return to the publication of official Crime Statistics by the CSO at the earliest possible opportunity.

Courts Service

Ceisteanna (159, 160)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

159. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of staff per district probate office and general probate office in each of he years 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5142/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

160. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the annual overall budget of each probate office in each of the years 2011 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5143/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.

The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. Probate functions are also carried out by County Registrars at District Probate Registries in 14 provincial court offices.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the Probate Office is funded and resourced from the overall budget allocation made to the Superior Courts Directorate which has responsibility for the administration of this Office. There is no specific budget allocation for the Probate Office and therefore it is not possible to provide the budgetary data requested by the Deputy. The number of staff currently assigned to the Probate Office is 21.5, which includes an increase of 5.5 staff to this Office in the last 12 months to target delays in the processing of probate applications.

The Courts Service has also informed me that District Probate Registries operate as an integral part of each relevant Combined Court Office and that there is no specific budget allocation for the administration of probate services in District Probate Registries and therefore, again, it is not possible to disaggregate the specific budgetary data requested by the Deputy. All Combined Court offices provide services within the overall budget allocation provided to the Circuit and District Court Directorate, which has overall responsibility for the management and administration of that budget across all offices within the Directorate including the District probate function.

The Courts Service has also advised that the staffing of the District Probate Registries forms part of the overall staff structure within the Combined Court Office. Staff are allocated to Combined Court offices on the basis of the entire spectrum of services provided including the delivery of probate services. The allocation of staff resources within an office at any given time is a matter for the local office manager based on business priorities and demands particularly in relation to the support of the judiciary in the administration of justice. It is therefore not possible to provide data in relation to the actual number of staff assigned to probate duties in any given year.

However, as the Deputy may be aware, the Courts Service is currently undertaking a review of the delivery of probate services and this is expected to be completed early this year. As part of the information gathering exercise undertaken as part of the review, the Courts Service undertook an assessment of the number of Full Time Equivalent staff assigned to Probate duties in each of the District Probate Registries. The outcome of this assessment is provided in the table below. The County Registrar fulfils the role of District Probate Registrar and has an input into the administration of the Probate function in each office.

Staffing in District Probate Registries

Office

Counties served

No. of staff for probate (Full Time Equivalent)

Cavan

Cavan

Longford

0.4

Dundalk

Louth

Monaghan

1

Mullingar

Westmeath

Offaly

0.7

Clonmel

Tipperary

1

Kilkenny

Kilkenny

Carlow

Laois

0.95

Waterford

Waterford

1

Wexford

Wexford

0.8

Cork

Cork

2.2

Kerry

Kerry

0.8

Limerick

Limerick

Clare

1.9

Sligo

Sligo

Leitrim

0.75

Galway

Galway

Roscommon

1.5

Letterkenny

Donegal

0.6

Castlebar

Mayo

1.25

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Remit

Ceisteanna (161)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

161. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the request from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in regard to new legislation to give it independence from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5149/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2017, the Government approved the drafting of the heads of a Bill to address a number of operational issues that had been brought to the attention of my predecessor by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). That work has progressed and I expect to be in a position to update my Government colleagues shortly.

Meanwhile, in May 2017, the Government established the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (the Commission). The Commission's remit requires it to review the police oversight architecture including how complaints against members of An Garda Síochána are handled.

In parallel with the Commission's review, GSOC sent me proposals for more fundamental reform of the legislation, including in relation to its independence, in December. Given its remit, I have referred these proposals to the Commission as an input to its work and I am aware that GSOC has engaged with the Commission in its own right. The Commission is due to report in September and I look forward to receiving its proposals.

In summary, work has progressed in relation to the drafting of heads of a Bill to address some operational issues that had been raised by GSOC, while the more fundamental reform issues, including those regarding its independence, have been referred to the Commission for its consideration.