Community Policing

Ceisteanna (99)

John Curran

Ceist:

99. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the strength of community gardaí has not increased in view of recent increases in Garda numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

Community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána as it recognises that every community, either urban or rural, has its own concerns and expectations. The role of a community Garda is not a specialist role in An Garda Síochána; rather it is the case that all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. The official categorisation of Community Garda simply refers to those who are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. It is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that a new “Community Policing Framework” is currently at an advanced stage. I understand that under this new Framework which will take into account the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, it is envisaged that Community policing may be a specialism in some urban areas. In rural areas, it may be more of a hybrid model where all Gardaí in a District have a community responsibility but also having to attend normal policing duties.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. This accelerated recruitment of Gardaí saw Garda numbers reach just over 14,000 by the end of 2018. Furthermore, a total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, an increase of over €100 million on the 2018 allocation. This substantial investment will provide new and leading edge technology to support our front line Gardaí in carrying out their work and increasing visibility in both rural and urban communities

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that it is his intention to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 along with a net 600 Garda Staff (civilians). The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy this year a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to the frontline duties for which they are trained. I believe that the injection of this large number of experienced officers into the field, along with the new recruits, will be really beneficial in terms of protecting communities. This and on-going recruitment will clearly provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across the organisation, including Community Policing in the coming years.

The information in relation to the number of Community Gardaí by Division in each of the years 2008 as to 30 December 2018, the latest date for which figures are available, is available on my Department’s website through the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/005_Community_Garda_Strength_2008_to_30_December_2018.xlsx/Files/005_Community_Garda_Strength_2008_to_30_December_2018.xlsx

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Gambling Legislation

Ceisteanna (100)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

100. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of his plans to introduce gambling regulation measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4859/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am happy to update the Deputy on the work I am undertaking to update our laws on gambling.

The Deputy will be aware that an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gambling was established as a result of the Government Decision of 10 January 2018 to review the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill and all relevant developments since. I chaired this group, comprising all stakeholder Departments and the Office of the Attorney General.

The Group met on six occasions since February 2018 and reviewed all of the provisions of the 2013 Scheme. The final meeting of the Group took place on 24 January 2019.

The Group's Report will now be finalised and I hope to bring it to Government for consideration as soon as possible.

I would also like to take the opportunity to update the Deputy on the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill, which I hope to publish early in the current Oireachtas session. This will be an interim reform measure, pending the bringing forward of comprehensive gambling control legislation.

The amendments proposed under the Bill address certain deficiencies with regard to the conduct of activities regulated under the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, and provide for the modernisation of that Act by way of, among other matters, arrangements for the better promotion of lotteries, updating certain stake and prize limits and standardising the minimum gambling age at 18.

Online Safety

Ceisteanna (101)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

101. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review Part 11 or Part 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in respect of extending anti-social behaviour orders to social media usage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4867/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Law Reform Commission produced a report on Harmful Communications and Digital Safety in September 2016. This report contained a number of recommendations to improve the criminal justice and regulatory response to harm perpetrated online. The report is essentially divided into two parts:

It proposed the appointment of a Digital Safety Commissioner to promote digital safety, to publish a statutory Code of Practice on it and to oversee efficient take-down procedures to ensure that harmful communications can be removed as quickly as possible from social media sites. The proposed legislation in relation to the appointment of a Digital Safety Commissioner is being dealt with by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It also proposed significant reform in the area of the criminal law and it was intended that my Department would bring forward legislation to give effect to the criminal law aspects of the report. However, due to competing legislative priorities, progress was not as rapid as I had hoped. In 2017, Deputy Brendan Howlin introduced a Private Member’s Bill, the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 to the Dáil. It completed second stage in January 2018 and was not opposed by Government. Cabinet approval was recently given to discontinue work on the Government Bill and to support Deputy Howlin’s Bill to ensure that legislation can be enacted as swiftly as possible. The main provisions of the Bill as published include:

- The existing offence of sending false, threatening, indecent or obscene messages will be extended. At present, it applies to communication by telephone or sms messaging but the new offence proposed will apply to all threatening, false, indecent and obscene messages sent persistently using any form of online or traditional method of communications.

- Two new offences relating to non-consensual distribution of intimate images with/without intent to cause harm or distress (generally referred to as “revenge pornography”). Whether the person against whom the offence was committed is underage or unable to guard themselves from harm is intended to be an aggravating factor to be considered in sentencing for the offence of non-consensual distribution of an image.

- The existing offence of harassment as contained in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 will be extended to include all forms of communication, including through online or digital communications and will include communication to, or about a person.

- A new stalking offence.

Department officials have been working with Deputy Howlin with the intention of identifying and bringing forward any necessary Government amendments to ensure the Bill can be as robust and effective as possible.

Legislative reform is one of the actions under the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019, which was launched by the Taoiseach in July last year and is currently being implemented. The Action Plan involves a wide range of actions, across six Government Departments - Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment; Education and Skills; Justice and Equality; Children and Youth Affairs; Health and Business Enterprise and Innovation, recognising that online safety is not the responsibility of any one Department and signifying the range and breadth of the issues involved.

In light of the ongoing work in this Department and other Departments to tackle issues relating to online safety, I currently have no plans to review Part 11 or Part 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 to extend anti-social behaviour orders to social media usage.

Juvenile Offenders

Ceisteanna (102, 103, 104)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

102. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juvenile good behaviour contracts issued in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4868/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

103. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juvenile anti-social behaviour orders issued in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019, under Part 13 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4869/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

104. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of anti-social behaviour orders issued in each of the years 2007 to 2018 to date in 2019 under Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4870/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 to 104, inclusive, together.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will contact the Deputy directly when the information is to hand.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (105)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

105. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) will be given a determination in respect of a citizenship application made in August 2016. [4886/19]

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. On completion of the necessary processing the application 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. 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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (106)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 274 of 18 December 2018, the residency status and potential for upgrade or naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); if a case can take such a length of time to process; if there is a likelihood of action in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications and the applicant or his 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 either 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 International Protection Appeals Tribunal 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.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and cases involving permission to remain in the State have been introduced. Such applications are now processed, as part of a single application procedure, by the International Protection Office (IPO) which has replaced the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) from that date. The staff of that Office (the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers) are independent in the performance of their protection functions.

For your information, on 27 February 2017, the Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications under the International Protection Act 2015 which is available on the website of the International Protection Office (www.ipo.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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Travel Documents

Ceisteanna (107)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if travel documents will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that if the person concerned wishes to apply for a travel document he or she must complete a Travel Document application form and submit it to the Travel Documents Section, Ministerial Decisions Unit, Repatriation Division, INIS, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

The application form and information about applying can be found on the INIS website at

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/application_for_a_travel_document

Having received the application, the Travel Documents Section of the INIS will be in a position to consider if a travel document can issue. A travel document will not issue to a person who is not in the State or who does not have permission to be in the State. If a travel document does not issue the fee of €80 will not be charged.

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.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (108)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position with regard to a join spouse visa in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4906/19]

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 made an application for permission to remain in the State as the spouse of an Irish national in November 2018.

The Deputy will appreciate that applications are dealt with in chronological order. INIS acknowledged the application without delay and informed the person concerned that a decision will issue in due course.

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

Ceisteanna (109)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the request of a person (details supplied) for revocation of a deportation order will be considered; if the case will be considered on humanitarian grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4907/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, made following the refusal of their asylum and subsidiary protection applications and the consideration of their case under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

Representations were received in October 2018 from the legal representative 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 is under consideration at present. Once a decision has been made on this request, this decision will be notified in writing. The Deputy might wish to note that any such decision will be to 'affirm' or to 'revoke' the existing Deportation Order. 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.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (110)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

110. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to an offer of temporary residency status or stamp 4 in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4908/19]

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.

His case is amongst many to be considered and, as such, at this point in time, it is not possible to provide a specific indication as to when his case will be finalised. However, he can be assured that there will be no avoidable delay in having his case brought to finality.

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (111)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

111. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and-or expected residency status with potential for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4910/19]

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, who currently has permission to reside in the State until 2 June 2019 is ongoing. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. Should further documentation be required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

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. 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.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (112)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if alternative arrangements will be made to facilitate a person (details supplied) who cannot obtain their national passport and is being encouraged to travel back to their home country in order to obtain the document; if alternative means will be found to update their residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4912/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that an application for a travel document has not been submitted on behalf of this person. This person currently has a Stamp 4 permission and is registered until 29 May 2019 at which point the permission will need to be renewed.

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.      

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (113)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4914/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications and the applicant or his legal representative should contact the International Protection Office directly either 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.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and cases involving permission to remain in the State have been introduced. Such applications are now processed, as part of a single application procedure, by a the International Protection Office (IPO) which has replaced the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) from that date. The staff of that Office (the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers) are independent in the performance of their protection functions.

For your information, on 27 February 2017, the Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications under the International Protection Act 2015 which is available on the website of the International Protection Office (www.ipo.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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (114)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

114. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4915/19]

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (115)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

115. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications and the applicant or his legal representative should contact the International Protection Office directly either 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.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and cases involving permission to remain in the State have been introduced. Such applications are now processed, as part of a single application procedure, by a the International Protection Office (IPO) which has replaced the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) from that date. The staff of that Office (the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers) are independent in the performance of their protection functions.

For your information, on 27 February 2017, the Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications under the International Protection Act 2015 which is available on the website of the International Protection Office (www.ipo.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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (116)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

116. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a travel document or naturalisation in lieu thereof will issue in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4920/19]

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. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. Should further documentation be required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

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. 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.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Ceisteanna (117)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

117. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a matter will be clarified in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that arising from an administrative error, correspondence issued to the person referred by the Deputy in respect of their application under the Irish Humanitarian Admissions Programme (IHAP) inadvertently included an incorrect name in the addressing of the correspondence.

Nothwithstanding the error in the name line on the letter, the content of the letter correctly referred to the application submitted by the person referred to by the Deputy and their nominated beneficiaries under the IHAP Scheme. Arrangements are being made for an amended letter to be issued as a matter of urgency.

I wish to advise the Deputy that INIS will take all necessary steps to ensure that the administrative errors identified are rectified as a matter of urgency.

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.

IDA Ireland Site Visits

Ceisteanna (118)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

118. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she is satisfied with the number of IDA site visits to County Wexford from January 2017 to the end of 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [53442/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As Minister, my objective is to create the best possible environment for enterprise, entrepreneurship, innovation and investment. Creating more jobs outside of our main cities is a key priority for both the IDA and my Department in that regard. Real progress has already been made towards that goal, with 58% of all IDA employment now outside of Dublin. This represents the highest number of people employed by IDA clients outside of Dublin in the history of the organisation. The last 12 months has also seen more IDA jobs added in the regions than at any time over the past 17 years. 

With regard to site visits, they do remain an important tool in helping showcase particular locations to potential overseas investors. In 2017, Wexford hosted three such visits by IDA client firms. There were three further site visits to the County in the first three quarters of 2018. Data on site visits for the entirety of 2018, for both Wexford and the remainder of the country, will be available shortly.

The IDA has a number of locations available for investment in Wexford which are being actively marketed to its clients through its network of offices in Ireland and overseas. These include lands at the IDA Business & Technology Park in Wexford Town, the Whitemill Industrial Estate in Wexford Town and the IDA Business Park in Enniscorthy. I am hopeful that further investors can be encouraged to situate in the County, whether at these sites or others, and thereby contribute further to the wider region's growth and development.

Whilst the IDA is doing everything within its power to ensure its clients locate outside the country’s principal urban areas, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the regions is not without its challenges. Many overseas firms, for example, will only consider large cities for a variety of operational and commercial reasons.

I am nevertheless pleased to say that FDI in County Wexford has exhibited strong growth in recent years. I understand that there are 18 IDA client companies now located there, employing a total of 3,139 people. There has been a 6.5% increase in IDA supported employment in the County from 2017 to 2018. Moreover, Wexford has seen a 25% increase in FDI-driven employment since 2013. It should also be noted that FDI only forms one part of investment in regional locations. Indigenous enterprise is responsible for a significant portion of employment growth, especially outside Dublin.

While the employment trends in Wexford are positive, I recognise that there is room for improvement in the County. I am working hard, together with my colleagues across Government, to further unlock its economic potential and thereby create more jobs and opportunities for the people of the area.

Research Funding Data

Ceisteanna (119)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

119. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount expended here as a percentage of GNP on research spending in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. [4766/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The table shows Ireland's Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) and GERD as a percentage of GNP for 2010 to 2017. Note data on 2018 (or for 2019 to date) is not available yet.

Year

GERD

GERD as % GNP

2010

2669.5

1.92%

2011

2665.9

1.94%

2012

2758.1

1.99%

2013

2849.2

1.89%

2014

2969.3

1.81%

2015

3133.4

1.56%

2016

3242.8

1.46%

2017 estimate

3396.1

1.46%

Employment Data

Ceisteanna (120)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

120. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the benefits accrued to a person (details supplied) when their pension entitlements transferred from a company to the public sector transfer network in 1974; if they were paid a lump sum at the time; the way in which this transfer improved their pension entitlements; the details of the knock-for-knock system of contributions relative to the company at operative date 30 April 1976; the effect on entitlements when they were made redundant in December 1987 by the company; the amount of redundancy received; if a record of the contributions of the person will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department does not hold any employee information relating to the former employees of the company for which the Deputy has supplied details of.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (121)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

121. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which measures have put in place to counter the impact of Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4923/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. These measures aim to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks.

My Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign, including a recent event held in Monaghan in October where I was delighted to welcome many businesses from the Border Region. Officials from my Department and agencies also participated in the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready event in Letterkenny in Donegal on Friday 30 November last, which included Enterprise Ireland, IDA, the LEOs, NSAI and the HSA. Last week, the Revenue Commissioners held a seminar in Dundalk. The seminar focused on customs requirements, procedures and operation of the UK landbridge and transit arrangements. This week the NSAI is hosting Brexit events in Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo and further events are in planning by my Department and agencies.  

Informed by detailed research, my Department has put in place a package of measures in response to the needs of businesses affected by Brexit-related uncertainty.

I allocated an additional €1million to InterTradeIreland (ITI) as part of Budget 2019. ITI works with SMEs on an all-Ireland basis and is particularly well-placed, given its remit to develop cross-border trade, to help SMEs prepare for the particular North-South challenges associated with Brexit.

The ITI Brexit Advisory Service provides a focal point for SMEs working to navigate any changes in cross-border trading relationships arising as a result of Brexit. As part of the service, ITI has organised a series of awareness events focused on improving knowledge of customs processes and procedures and identifying actions that can be taken in areas such as logistics and supply chain management. To date, more than 4,000 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service.

ITI also offers a Brexit Start to Plan voucher scheme, which enables businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan and prepare for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. This support helps businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services. ITI vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. Companies are finding the vouchers very useful and there has been strong demand which can be attributed to the media campaign conducted by ITI across a range of platforms. 

The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the first-stop-shop for anyone seeking guidance and support on starting or growing their business. The LEOs continue to organize various events to enable companies to learn about the potential impacts and opportunities of Brexit. In addition, 471 LEO clients have received one-to-one mentoring solely focused on Brexit.

The LEOs engage in a number of other schemes to help companies prepare for Brexit. Technical Assistance Grants for Micro Export are offered as an incentive for LEO clients to explore and develop new market opportunities, as of 18 January 2018, 419 LEO clients were approved assistance under the grant. Also, i have provided additional capital funding of €5 million in Budget 2019 for local enterprise development.

In addition, the six LEOs in the Border region are working together with their Northern Ireland counterparts under the EU Co-Innovate Programme. The aim of Co-Innovate is to give SMEs from the manufacturing and tradable services sectors in the eligible regions the tools and tailored support to help them to innovate, differentiate and compete successfully.

In December 2018, I announced a further €30 million in funding for successful projects under Call 2 of the competitive Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF).

In April 2017, I asked all the Regional Action Plan for Jobs Implementation Committees to start a process to refresh and refocus all Regional Plans to ensure their relevance and impact out to 2020. This will ensure that the Plans remain effective and that they continue to deliver jobs across the country, in all regions, and can be robust in addressing the challenges we face, including Brexit. As a result, both the North-West and the North-East will both have their own plans in the new iteration and Brexit will be an ongoing priority area for both Committees. These plans are being finalised and will be published in February.

The €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme provides relatively short term working capital, 1-3 years, to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees to help them innovate, change or adapt to mitigate their Brexit challenges.  The scheme is open to eligible businesses from all regions of the country, including those in the Border counties.  Businesses can confirm their eligibility with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) and if deemed eligible, can apply to one of the participating finance providers for a loan under the scheme.

The scheme was launched in March 2018 and, as at close of business on 18th January, there have been 376 eligibility applications received of which 337 eligibility applications have been approved and 65 loans progressed to sanction at Bank level to a value of €14.9m.

The Future Growth Loan Scheme was announced in Budget 2019. The scheme will provide a longer-term facility, 8 to 10 years, of up to €300m to support strategic capital investment for a post-Brexit environment by business at competitive rates. This is jointly funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Loans of €50,000 to €3m will be available, with loans of under €500,000 being provided on an unsecured basis. The scheme will be available to eligible Irish businesses, including those in the primary agriculture and seafood sectors, to support strategic, long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.  The SBCI has issued an “Open Call” for financial institutions to apply by 11 February 2019 for designation as a lending partner under the Scheme. It is expected that this Scheme will be operational in early 2019.

Enterprise Ireland has established a Prepare for Brexit online portal and communications campaign, as well as an online “Brexit SME Scorecard” to help Irish businesses self-asses their exposure to Brexit and a “Be Prepared Grant” to support SME clients in planning to mitigate risks arising from Brexit. It has also launched a new Eurozone Strategy to help SMEs broaden their export footprint beyond the UK.

Over 3,900 business have used Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Scorecard to date and 85% of EI client firms are now taking actions, while 155 applications for the Be Prepared grant have been approved. 165 EI clients have received funding under its “Act On” programme, which supports the engagement of a consultant to help clients identify weaknesses and improve resilience. EI has also hosted 11 Brexit Advisory Clinics.

EI also recently launched a new Customs Insights Online course which is a new online training support to help all businesses understand how customs work including the documentation and process required to operate and succeed post Brexit. The Customs Insights course explains in clear and simple terms the main customs rules and included the key actions companies can take to prepare for customs after Brexit and the options from Revenue that are available to make the customs process more efficient. This will be available for any company to use whether they are importers or exporters and also whether they are agency clients or not.

In order to help build the enterprise capability, under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) EI invested in seven successful projects in the Border region with a total funding allocation of more than €10.6 million. This funding will drive enterprise development and job creation in the Border Region.

Enterprise Ireland will continue to engage with its clients to ensure they have the supports required to prepare for any kind of Brexit.

My Department and I have been very active in the 'Getting Ireland Brexit Ready' public information campaign. This campaign includes workshop events throughout the country aimed primarily at business and people most impacted by Brexit. A ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’ event was recently held in Monaghan in October and I was delighted to welcome many businesses from the Border Region. Officials from my Department and agencies participated in all six Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events in 2018, which included Enterprise Ireland, IDA, the LEOs, NSAI and the HSA.

While I have seen a very positive uptake of the supports available, not everyone is engaging. With Brexit around the corner, I want businesses, particularly those around the Border counties to know my Department and agencies are here to help. My Department and its agencies are providing extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for any Brexit scenario.

Economic Competitiveness

Ceisteanna (122)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

122. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which she expects to be in a position to improve conditions for business and enterprise with particular reference to the extent to which industry can be supported in its competition throughout the sector in view of the changes taking place globally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4924/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As a small open economy, Ireland has always been exposed to factors beyond our control, impacting on our ability to prosper, and the global economic landscape is becoming more, not less, challenging to Ireland’s growth prospects.

In January 2019, the IMF revised down their projections for global economic growth over the next two years, with growth projected to be 3.5% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020. The growth forecast had already been revised downwards (partly because of the negative effects of tariff increases enacted by the United State and China). The further downward revision in part reflects carry over from softer momentum in the second half of 2018 – including in Germany following the introduction of new automobile fuel emission standards and in Italy where concerns about sovereign and financial risks have weighed on domestic demand.

The IMF also note that the risks to global growth tilt to the downside. An escalation of trade tensions beyond those already incorporated in the forecast remains a key source of risk to the outlook. A range of triggers beyond escalating trade tensions – including a no deal Brexit, and a greater-than-envisaged slowdown in China - could spark a further deterioration in risk sentiment with adverse growth implications, especially given the high levels of public and private debt.

Increasing productivity is the only long-term sustainable way of increasing the standard of living for our people, and there are a range of initiatives in train across Government to enhance our competitiveness performance, including:

The review of SME policy designed to assess the SME business ecosystem and the range of supports offered to SMEs undertaken by my Department in conjunction with the OECD;

The development of an Industry 4.0 strategy to respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from the impact of digital technologies; and

The Future Growth Loan Scheme that will allow businesses to borrow for up to 10 years to support capital investment and enhance their competitiveness.

My Department and the Department of the Taoiseach are also preparing the Future Jobs Programme, a cross-government initiative with a strong focus on improving productivity, that will be published in February. This initiative will propose concrete and ambitious actions to enhance our productivity and competitiveness and will ensure that we are well positioned to adapt to transformational changes the economy will face in the years ahead.

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (123)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

123. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which she can assist companies and sole traders seeking to employ persons from outside the EU; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In order to work in Ireland a non-EEA National, unless they are exempted, must hold a valid Employment Permit. The Employment Permits Section of my Department administers the Employment Permits system.  All applications for employment permits are processed in line with the employment permits acts and associated regulations which lay down in legislation the criteria in relation to the application and grant and refusal of an employment permit.

To be eligible to apply for an employment permit a non-EEA national must have a valid job offer from an Irish registered employer.

In order to assist with the application process, the Department has produced a suite of information to assist in the application process including various checklist documents, a ‘User Guide' to our online application system and a comprehensive FAQ Document which answers the most common queries received regarding employment permits.  All this information can be found in the Employment Permit section of the Department’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie. 

My officials are also available by phone on LoCall 1890 201 616 or by e-mail at employmentpermits@dbei.gov.ie to answer any queries regarding employment permits. 

In addition officials from the Department regularly engage directly with stakeholders, and have been invited by various representative groups such as the Irish Farmers Association and the Construction Industry Federation to deliver presentations on the employment permit system.  Officials also attended both the Tullamore Show and the National Ploughing Championships as part of this engagement process.