Departmental Bodies Reports

Ceisteanna (162)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

162. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the recommended legislative changes in the Policing Authority's latest report in accordance with section 62O(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5150/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that section 62O(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 requires that the Policing Authority report to me, as Minister, on—

- the effectiveness of the Authority, and

- the adequacy of the functions assigned to it by the Act.

I have laid the report before each House of the Oireachtas as required by the statute.

The recommendations in the Report, including in relation to the statutory framework, are at present being considered by my officials and will, of course, feed into the wider consideration of these matters by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, the recommendations of which are expected to be delivered in September. In this context and at the request of the Authority, I have arranged for the Report to be forwarded to the Commission.

I welcome the Report which, in my opinion, demonstrates that the Authority has established itself as a very important and effective stakeholder in the oversight framework for An Garda Síochána.

I understand that, in addition to preparing this report, the Authority is making a separate submission to the Commission and will continue to interact with, and assist, the Commission over the course of 2018 as required.

Garda Recruitment

Ceisteanna (163)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

163. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if all the persons who sat the entrance examinations for An Garda Síochána since recruitment was re-introduced have been called for training; the number still outstanding; if an explanation has been given for the delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5174/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013. The Public Appointments Service (PAS), on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, manages the initial recruitment stages for selection of Garda Trainees with the final stages of the recruitment process in which candidates are vetted, complete a physical competency test and a medical examination, are managed by the Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct involvement in the matter.

As the Deputy will also be aware a programme of accelerated recruitment to An Garda Síochána is on-going with a view to reaching 15,000 Gardaí as part of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 by 2021. I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - an increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.

I am also pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 recruits will enter the Garda College. Also 800 trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.

Since recruitment recommenced in 2014 five campaigns have been undertaken. I am informed that a total of 4,199 applicants have successfully completed the initial recruitment stages conducted by PAS and that of these 2,213 have either completed or commenced their training in the Garda College and that 814 have either withdrawn or were unsuccessful in the final stages of the process conducted by An Garda Síochána.

I am informed that An Garda Síochána is currently processing the balance of 1,172 applicants who successfully completed the PAS recruitment stages through the final stages of the process. The time frame for completing the final stages can vary due to a number factors. These include the length of the vetting process which may, for example, be more time consuming if the applicant has resided abroad; whether the applicant has to repeat the physical; or is deferred for medical reasons.

I understand that successful candidates are still being called from the 2016 competitions and it is expected that successful candidates from the 2017 competition will enter the College towards the middle of 2018.

I would advise any candidate for a position as a Garda trainee to contact the Public Appointments Service or the Garda Appointments Office if they have any queries in relation to their application.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (164)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

164. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when an updated stamp 4 will be arranged in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5175/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, 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 person concerned.

These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully 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 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (165)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

165. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a stamp 4 will be renewed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5176/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, 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 person concerned.

These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully 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 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (166)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

166. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when an update of stamp 4 or temporary residency will be granted in the case of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5177/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, 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, will be fully 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 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (167)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

167. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when short or long-term residency and stamp 4 will be granted or updated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5178/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, 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 person concerned.

These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully 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 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (168)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

168. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the determination in respect of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5179/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the processing of the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is ongoing.

A letter issued to the person concerned on 11 January 2018 requesting certain information. Upon receipt of the requested information the case will be further processed and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

As the Deputy will appreciate, 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. While most straightforward cases are generally processed within six months, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Deportation Orders Re-examination

Ceisteanna (169)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

169. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a proposal to deport can be deferred in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5185/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a deportation order made on 11 March 2005.

The person was deported from the State on 04 June 2006, however, according to information received from her legal representatives, she returned to this State the year after she was deported.

Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned requesting that the deportation order be revoked, pursuant to the provisions of section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). This request will be considered as soon as possible. The Deputy should be made aware that an official from INIS wrote to the person concerned on 21 December 2017 inviting her to provide further details relating to her medical condition. This has not yet been forthcoming.

The Deputy might wish to note that the decision to ensue from the consideration of this request will be to have the existing deportation order 'affirmed' or 'revoked'. Once such a decision has been made, this decision will be notified in writing. In the meantime, the deportation order remains valid and in place.

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

Courts Service

Ceisteanna (170)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

170. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 24 January 2018, if he will provide a copy of the minutes or report of the meeting between the Irish delegation and the Commission in Brussels in September 2017 and the detailed submission to the European Commission in November 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5234/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that any documentation, including any minutes or report of the meeting with the EU Commission and the submission referred to in the question, are confidential between the Commission and Ireland and the subject of an ongoing process with the Commission and I am not, therefore, in a position to provide such documentation to the Deputy at this point. This matter is also the subject of ongoing court proceedings.

I can, however, inform the Deputy that we pointed out firstly to the EU Commission that there are no legislative or other impediments to the exercise of obligations under the Unfair Contracts Directive in the Irish Courts and that court procedures are available for a judge to determine whether there are unfair contract terms in play. We pointed out secondly that our courts are aware of the obligations as to unfair contract terms in the context of repossession proceedings and the Unfair Terms Directive has already been applied in a number of Irish court cases and judgments which are binding on the Circuit Court where the vast majority of home repossession cases are heard. We also informed the Commission as to the extent of Government policies and legislative measures which have been put in place and are working to help people in mortgage arrears to remain in their family homes. As the Deputy will know these actions have included personal insolvency legislation, appropriate adjustments to Courts legislation to link in with personal insolvency arrangements and the introduction of the Abhaile Scheme in 2016. Abhaile has been a huge success with over 10,000 advice and assistance services provided to distressed borrowers up to mid-January 2018, a very large portion of whom are in the one to two years plus mortgage arrears category. Finally it was pointed out to the Commission that an Irish consumer mortgagor who is a party to mortgage possession proceedings has the opportunity at several stages of the proceedings to ensure that the lender’s claim for possession is referred to a court to assess the unfairness of any of the contract terms.

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (171)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

171. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons enrolled in apprenticeships in his Department and State agencies under his remit, by gender, in tabular form; and if he will list each such apprenticeship. [5261/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy the number of apprenticeships in my department and the bodies under the aegis of my department are as follows:

Legal Aid Board

Apprenticeship Type 

 Gender

 Number

Apprentice Solicitor

 Female

 5

Enterprise Support Services Expenditure

Ceisteanna (172)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

172. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the grant aid or funding available to assist a person (details supplied) to develop a business and bring a facility to County Cavan. [5072/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Cavan, located at Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre, Dublin Road, Cavan, is your 'first-stop shop' for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and 'soft' supports in the form of training and mentoring to anyone wishing to start or grow a business. The LEO Cavan is contactable at: 049 437 7200, or localenterprise@cavancoco.ie.

In the first instance, the LEO can provide a 'signposting' service in relation to all relevant State supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, Credit Review Office, and Microfinance Ireland. The LEO can also offer advice and guidance in areas such as Local Authority rates, Public Procurement and other regulations affecting business.

The LEO can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEO can provide financial assistance within three main categories: Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea); Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up); and Business Development Grants for existing businesses that want to expand. (It should be noted that the LEO does not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses). In addition, there is a Technical Assistance Grant available for eligible micro-exporter applicants who are seeking to explore alternative markets for their product or service.

For anyone interested in starting or growing a business, the LEO may be able to offer 'soft' support in the form of training (e.g. a Start Your Own Business course); a mentor to work with the business proposer; or targeted programmes such as Lean for Micro (to help boost business productivity and competitiveness).

Micro-enterprises may also avail of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme (TOVS) from the LEO. The Scheme offers the opportunity for businesses to develop their website or digital marketing strategy by availing of vouchers of up to €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure.

Anyone with a viable business proposal can also use the LEO to make an application to Microfinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. Successful applicants can avail of a more favourable interest rate from MFI if they make their application through the LEO.

I should also draw your attention to the 'Supporting SMEs' Online Tool, which is a cross-governmental initiative to help start-ups navigate the range of Government business supports for which they could be eligible. The tool is available at www.supportingsmes.ie. By answering the eight questions in the Online Tool, a small business will, in one location, be able to:

- find out which of the over 170 Government business supports from 27 different Government Departments, Agencies and Initiatives are available to them;

- obtain information on the range of Government supports for accessing credit;

- identify their nearest Local Enterprise Office where they can discuss the outcomes of the guide further;

- download all these filtered results into a document for their further use.

Industrial Property Portfolio

Ceisteanna (173, 174)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

173. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when decisions are due to be made on the identification of suitable sites as locations for the establishment of data centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5078/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

174. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if locations (details supplied) have been given further consideration as possible sites for the location of data centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5079/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 and 174 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, last year IDA Ireland appointed Jacobs Engineering, supported by AOS Planning, to identify potential strategic land banks in Ireland that would be particularly suitable for the sustainable development of large scale data centre projects.

I understand that the national site evaluation process is now well advanced and some draft information has been provided to the IDA by the consultants. On the basis of this draft information, the IDA is extending the scope of the evaluation process. The scope of this additional work is currently being finalised. IDA Ireland has indicated that a final draft report is expected towards the end of March 2018.

More broadly, the IDA continues to actively market County Cavan, and the wider border area, for foreign direct investment opportunities, including through the Agency’s overseas network.