Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (164)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

164. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the contracts between direct provision providers and RIA include requirements for the provision of menstrual hygiene products; and if not, the reason therefor. [44326/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, as a result of the recommendations in the McMahon Report, accommodation centres for persons in the protection process are all moving to an independent living model (which includes either self-catering or communal catering). In this model, each resident is assigned a number of points depending on their family composition and residents can procure food, personal toiletries and hygiene products at a food-hall type facility provided by the contractor.

As part of a wide ranging public procurement project, a series of open procurement processes are underway between now and the end of 2019 for accommodation centres throughout the state for persons seeking international protection. This tender specifies that only bids that conform to the independent living model, as set out above, will qualify.

While the present contract requires each resident to be provided with certain toiletry items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toilet paper), there is no contractual obligation to provide other personal items for women or men such as menstrual hygiene products or razors.

My understanding is that the costs of such items was to be covered by the payment of the direct provision allowance. This allowance will be increased to €38.80 for each adult and €29.80 for each child in March 2019. This will result in increases in this allowance of 103% for adults and 91% for children since 2017.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I am making arrangements that for those centres that do not yet have the independent living model in operation and in which women and girls are resident, that supplies of menstrual hygiene products will be made available as required.

Asylum Applications Data

Ceisteanna (165)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

165. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of bisexual asylum seekers granted asylum in each of the years 2014 to 2017. [44334/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Section 8 of the International Protection Act 2015, commenced on 31 December, 2016, sets out the applicable reasons for persecution when considering an application for international protection on the grounds referred to by he Deputy. Applications are processed by the International Protection Office (IPO).

The Chief International Protection Officer and the International Protection Officers of the IPO are independent by law in the exercise of their international protection functions. They are also bound by confidentiality provisions in respect of applicants, as set out in the 2015 Act.

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the International Protection Office does not keep statistics specific to the grounds on which protection applications are granted.

All applicants for international protection are carefully interviewed and their cases are individually assessed by experienced caseworkers. The circumstances of each individual case are assessed having regard to both the subjective elements (the applicant’s own account or personal history) and objective elements (up-to-date information on the applicant’s country or place of origin). Supporting documentation submitted by applicants is also taken into account. Country of Origin information is obtained from a variety of legitimate sources such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Amnesty International and other NGOs, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the US State Department and the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.

Road Traffic Offences

Ceisteanna (166)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

166. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there are penalties in cases (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44342/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Garda authorities that it is not an offence for individuals to not wear high visibility clothing when walking in the dark.

As the Deputy may be aware, S.I. 182/1997 Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997, as substituted by Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2012 include Rules for Pedestrians (Article 46). These rules include that a pedestrian shall exercise care and take all reasonable precautions in order to avoid causing danger or inconvenience to traffic and other pedestrians.

It is also part of the work of the Roads Safety Authority (RSA) to help provide a safe environment for all road users and promote the efficient use of our road network.

The RSA also works toward promoting good safety habits among all road users, and the Deputy will be familiar with RSA campaigns such as ‘Be Safe Be Seen’ which highlights the importance of using high visibility clothing when using our roads. There is no question that wearing bright or reflective clothes makes it easier for a person to be seen from greater distances and gives drivers more time to adjust their course.

I would encourage all road users, particularly our young and most vulnerable in society, to wear high visibility clothing in dark conditions. The reality is that this simple, but very important act can prevent serious accidents.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (167)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

167. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the breakdown of staff in his Department by grade. [44359/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The following table outlines the breakdown of staff in my Department by grade as of 15/10/2018.  These figures include staff in a range of agencies under the Department's aegis, including the Probation Service, Forensic Science Ireland, certain staff of the Irish Prison Service, Insolvency Service Ireland, and the Data Protection Commission.

Grade

Total 

Secretary General

1

Deputy Secretary*

3

Assistant Secretary*

19

Principal Officer*

109

Assistant Principal Officer*

305

Higher Executive Officer*

298

Administrative Officer*

325

Executive Officer

430

Clerical Officer*

861

Service Officer

43

Total

2394

*Technical/professional posts have been included with the general Civil Service grade for which they are analogous.

The Deputy Secretary General grade includes the posts of State Pathologist and Director General of Irish Prisons.

Court Judgments

Ceisteanna (168)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

168. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 273 of 29 November 2017, if he will direct the Chief State Solicitors Office to make an appropriate payment in view of the conclusion of a court case (details supplied). [44368/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As indicated in response to a previous Parliamentary Question by the Deputy, I am aware of the case referred to.

I would again point out that I was not a party to these legal proceedings.  However, I have had further enquires made with the Chief State Solicitor's Office and I understand that that office has been in recent contact with the individual in question in connection with the matter.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (169)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

169. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the difference between the capital allocation for his Department under the national development plan for 2019 given as €241 million in Annex 1 of the plan and the lower figure of €220 million that is set out on pages 7 and 121 of the budget 2019 expenditure report. [44422/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As part of the recent Estimates process some €20 million of the capital allocation for the Justice sector in 2019 per the National Development Plan has been reprofiled to 2020. This reprofiling is to more accurately reflect when it is envisaged expenditure will fall due in relation to the multi-year project for the provision of a new Forensic Science Laboratory in Backweston, Co. Kildare.   Enabling works have been carried out on the site and it is expected that the construction of the new laboratory will commence in 2019 and be completed by 2021.  Following this reprofiling there remains capital funding of over €43 million in the Justice Vote for the project in 2019.

There was also a technical adjustment required in relation to €0.560 million in capital in respect of the Property Registration Authority Vote. This arose due to a transfer of functions from this Department to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the capital allocation for this Vote is now reflected under that Department's Vote group for 2019 and subsequent years.

These adjustments  account for the difference in the capital figures for 2019 between the National Development Plan and the recent Budget 2019 Expenditure Report.

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (170)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

170. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the cultural and administrative dysfunction in An Garda Síochána that was identified in the Charleton Report; the way in which he plans to respond to these issues; and the timescale for same. [44435/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Third Interim Report of the Disclosures Tribunal addresses matters at the heart of policing in Ireland. Its findings and conclusions are, as I have already said in the House, stark. Mr. Justice Charleton does not mince words and is very clear about where serious failings took place, how they were allowed to happen and who allowed them to happen. 

It is clear that there are consequences for certain individuals and much of that will fall to the Garda Commissioner. There are also important recommendations to be taken on board by the organisation as a whole. I met with Commissioner Harris earlier this week to discuss the report and I assured him of my support as he addresses its findings.  Both he and I are determined that our response to the matters raised in this report must be forward-looking and contribute to the development of a modern police force for the twenty-first century.

In this respect, the Deputy will be aware that the independent Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland has just reported following its root and branch analysis of policing in Ireland and sets out a plan for the future of policing in this country. Like Judge Charleton's findings, this report makes clear that transparency, good governance and accountability in An Garda Síochána is fundamental. The implementation of that report will be the cornerstone of the necessary transformation in An Garda Síochána. I will be bringing an implementation plan in relation to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland report to Cabinet before the end of the year and I will ensure that this takes careful account of the conclusions of Mr Justice Charleton. 

In parallel, I agree with Mr Justice Charleton that new structures will not of themselves create the culture that would avoid the repetition of bad practice that has been highlighted now in a number of reports on the Garda Síochána.  This will require significant cultural change, embedding consistent good practices and conscientious supervision by those in management ranks. This was discussed in some detail with Commissioner Harris during our meeting, and I was encouraged to see that this report is being held up as a call to action within An Garda Síochána to address these very serious issues. I can assure the Deputy that Commissioner Harris will have the full support of myself and my Department in bringing about the reform called for in this report.

Insurance Fraud

Ceisteanna (171)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

171. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views in relation to the establishment of a Garda fraud squad to tackle insurance fraud specifically; his plans in relation to the establishment of such a unit; his views on whether the unit should be publicly funded or funded by the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44453/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Cost of Insurance Working Group proposed exploring the possibility that a specific unit, funded by the insurance industry, be established within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) to tackle insurance fraud.

I understand that the GNECB has engaged with Insurance Ireland in relation to this matter and submitted a mechanism for establishing an insurance fraud unit to Insurance Ireland in the first half of 2017. Following receipt of the reply from Insurance Ireland in July 2018, I met with the GNECB and the Assistant Commissioner, Special Crime Operations, on 30 August 2018 to discuss this recommendation further.  Following those discussions, I understand the recommendation is receiving further consideration within An Garda Síochána. 

Personal Injuries Commission

Ceisteanna (172)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

172. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he will request that the judicial council compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury as recommended by the Personal Injuries Commission; when the judicial council will be established; the interim measures being commenced in the area of personal injury damages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44455/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the Second and Final Report of the Personal Injuries Commission made recommendations aimed at positively impacting the overall Irish personal injury claims environment. One of these recommendation refers to the Judicial Council, on establishment, compiling guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury and further recommends that, in the event of any delay to the establishment of the Judicial Council, as a contingency arrangement, a formal framework, inclusive of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), should be established to enable the judiciary to complete guidelines in advance of the renewal deadlines for the next Book of Quantum.

I would like to inform the Deputy that the Judicial Council Bill 2017, which provides for the establishment of the Judicial Council, is a legislative priority for the Government and my intention is to make significant progress towards the enactment of the Bill by the end of this year. Once established, it is my intention to request the Judicial Council to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.

With regard to the interim position pending the establishment of the Judicial Council, my Department is currently examining options in that regard and will report to me shortly. As the Deputy will appreciate a number of stakeholders who would be involved in any possible interim arrangement will have to be consulted in that regard.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group was established by the Minister for Finance in July 2016 and is chaired by Minister of State, Michael D'Arcy TD. The objective of the Working Group is to identify and examine the drivers of the cost of insurance, and recommend short, medium and longer term measures to address the issue of increasing insurance costs, taking account of the requirement for the need to ensure a financially stable insurance sector.

Among the significant themes addressed by the Working Group in its reports, which are available with action updates on the Department of Finance website, are improving the personal injuries litigation framework and reviewing the level of damages in personal injury cases.

In addition to the establishment of the Personal Injuries Commission, the Working Group has also made a number of other recommendations in the field of personal injuries, including:

- the Law Reform Commission to be requested to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries,

- the amendment the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to ensure that defendants are notified of a claim been lodged against them and to improve the use and effectiveness of provisions relating to the verifying affidavit,

- facilitating training and information supports for the judiciary in relation to the assessment of damages in personal injury cases,

- tackling fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims, in particular, through a renewed focus on the reporting of suspected fraudulent claims to An Garda Síochána.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (173)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

173. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects the Judicial Council Bill 2017 will go to committee stage in Seanad Éireann; when he expects it will be introduced in Dáil Éireann; when he expects the Bill to be passed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44456/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy notes, the Judicial Council Bill is currently awaiting Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann, having completed Second Stage on 22 November 2017.  The Bill provides for the establishment of a Judicial Council, the function of which will be to promote and maintain excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions.   It will also provide a formal mechanism for the investigation of complaints about judges.

The Bill is a legislative priority for the Government and my intention is to make significant progress towards its enactment by the end of this year.   My Department is currently developing a package of amendments in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General.   Those amendments, which are at varying stages of development, include provisions in relation to sentencing guidelines, a Register of Interests for judges and associated matters in relation to the hearing of complaint proceedings in public.  

 This Bill has been developed in close collaboration with the judiciary and my Department is also maintaining contact with the judiciary in relation to the proposed amendments.

Personal Injuries Commission

Ceisteanna (174)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

174. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his interaction with the Law Reform Commission in relation to the third recommendation of the Personal Injuries Commission in its second and final report; when the report from the Law Reform Commission will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44457/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The matter raised by the Deputy is also the subject of Recommendation 5 of the Cost of Insurance Working Group made in its Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance published in January of this year. As the Deputy will be aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group, chaired by Minister of State Michael D'Arcy TD, brings together the relevant Departments and Offices involved in undertaking a review of the factors which are influencing the increased cost of insurance. Its objective is to identify immediate and longer term measures which address increasing costs, while bearing in mind the need to maintain a stable insurance sector. Under Recommendation 5, the Law Reform Commission was requested to undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries. As tasked by the Working Group, my Department wrote to the Law Reform Commission in relation to this recommendation on 9 February 2018.

It is my understanding that the Law Reform Commission has now included this proposal for consideration as part of its draft Fifth Programme of Law Reform and that a Memorandum will shortly be proposed to Government in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General who liaise with the Commission on these matters. On that basis, it would be anticipated that the Fifth Programme will be finalised by the end of this year at which point the timeline for the delivery of its various outputs by the Law Reform Commission will be determined.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (175)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

175. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the breakdown of the €43,920,000 capital allocation in the justice division within his Department for 2019, that is, Vote 24 of the budget 2019 expenditure report by specific project; the projects that will be commenced in 2019; the projects that will be completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44474/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Capital funding of €43.570 million in 2019 relates to the construction of a new Forensic Science Laboratory in Backweston Co. Kildare.  While certain enabling works have already been carried out on the site it is expected that the construction of the new laboratory will commence in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2021. The balance of the capital allocation of €0.350 million relates to ICT expenditure.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (176)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

176. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the breakdown of the €51,517,000 capital allocation in the courts service within his Department for 2019, that is, Vote 22 of the budget 2019 expenditure report by specific project; the projects that will be commenced in 2019; the projects that will be completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44475/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, following the publication by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform of the Estimates for Public Services on 9 October 2018, the capital allocation for 2019 for the Courts Service was confirmed at €51.517 million. It comprises €8.92 million for maintenance and development of new and existing Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems, €4.88 million for courthouse capital works and €37.717 million for unitary charge payments in relation to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and a number of regional courthouses provided under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements.

As the Deputy will also 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.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that €6.1 million of the €8.92 million ICT allocation for 2019 is contractually committed and this includes managed services, software licences, hardware/software support, database/network administration as well as Lotus Notes support. The balance allows for a small number of system upgrades and other ICT projects.

A breakdown of the ICT allocation for 2019 is as follows:

ICT

Amount

Hardware and Software Upgrades

€1,363,500

New e-Filing Systems (Supreme Court and Legal Cost Adjudicator)

€625,000

New Websites

€385,000

Justice Hub Projects

€446,400

Contractual Committed

€6,100,100

The Courts Service has also provided a list of ICT projects due to be completed in 2019 as set out below:

- Firewall Replacement;

- Legal Cost Adjudicator;

- e-Filing Supreme Court;

- Courts Service Website;

- Supreme Court Website;

- Agresso Upgrade.

The Courts Service has advised that the allocation of €4.88 million for courthouse capital works will allow for ongoing preparatory work on a dedicated Dublin Family Court complex on Hammond Lane; possible further site acquisitions as a prerequisite step to enable future development of courthouses in a small number of County towns and a condition assessment survey of court buildings.

A breakdown of the Courthouse Capital allocation is as follows:

- €1.38 million for repayment of Cork Loan (principal only element) - 2019 repayments to Cork City Council in respect of the refurbishment it carried out to Washington Street Courthouse in 2003;

- €0.98 million for capital lease payments;

The balance of €2.52 million will be used to progress a variety of projects, which are in various stages of development and could include, depending on the availability of resources and other variables, the following during 2019:

- Ongoing preparatory work on a dedicated Dublin Family Court complex on Hammond Lane;

- A condition survey of approximately 70 court buildings nationwide (intended to be completed in 2019) to ascertain the physical condition of each courthouse building, to identify works required to bring each building up to an acceptable standard and to determine ongoing maintenance requirements;

- Minor capital works required to enhance buildings and physical infrastructure in Dublin and nationwide;

- Site acquisitions as a prerequisite step to enable the future development/extension and refurbishment of courthouse facilities at a number of County town venues;

- Preparations for courthouse developments at Dungloe and Tuam.

The Courts Service has also advised that the contractual commitment relating to the PPP contracts for the Criminal Courts of Justice Complex in Dublin is €22.973 million and the seven Regional Courthouses is €14.744 million, amounting to €37.717m of the overall capital allocation for 2019.