Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (261)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

261. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment of a school (details supplied). [5636/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is in negotiations to purchase the building currently occupied by the school in question. In order for my Department to undertake refurbishment of the building, ownership will need to have transferred to my Department. My Department will be in contact with the school authority on the matter.

Education and Training Boards

Ceisteanna (262)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

262. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 911 of 3 November 2018, the usage to be made of the vacant site at Gaol Road, Kilkenny, once occupied by a school (details supplied); the length of time the site has been vacant; the reason therefore; if the site can be leased to an organisation that wishes to provide training courses for volunteers at a central location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5644/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the building in question is being used by Ormonde College of Further Education for the provision Post Leaving Courses since September 2018.

However, it is open to the organisation referred to by the Deputy to contact Kilkenny and Carlow Education and Training Board with a view to having access to the building outside of college time.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (263)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

263. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason lower paid teachers, qualified post-2012 and working in a non-casual substitute position that do not get paid for holidays and so on, had incorrect tax deductions made to their salaries before Christmas 2018 and despite protestations, his Department has failed to rectify the position (details supplied); the steps he will take to refund all moneys due to these teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5700/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Revenue Commissioners introduced real time PAYE on the 1st January 2019, which was the biggest change to the PAYE system since the 1960s. The first payroll of 2019 paid by the Department was on the 3rd January 2019 for post primary teachers and substitute teachers and on the 10th January for primary, non-teaching staff and retirees.

Schools input records of employment through the On Line Claims System for substitute teachers and the details of each period of employment transfers to the Department where the appropriate rates of pay are applied, statutory deductions are calculated and the payment issues in the regular payroll run for the sector.

In the first payrolls of the New Year, the payroll files that transferred to Revenue inadvertently included an end date for substitute staff which informed Revenue that these staff would not be paid under this employer number in the future. This notification caused Revenue to immediately reduce the tax credits and cut of points to zero for this cohort of staff which meant that when they were next paid, there were no tax credits available to be applied to the salary if the same people were paid in the second payroll issue.

The payroll software has been amended to prevent an end date transferring to Revenue for future payments which means substitute teachers paid for the first time in 2019 on payrolls after the 17th January will not have problems with tax credits. However this did not correct the issues that arose for the staff who were paid already.

A solution is being tested at present in consultation with Revenue. It is expected that this solution will be successful and all primary substitute teachers and substitute non teaching staff will have the correct tax deducted on the next pay day of 21st February.

Work is ongoing in relation to the post primary payroll and it is anticipated that some adjustments will be processed for the payroll issue of the 14th February and further adjustments will be processed for the next pay issue of the 28th February.

Seirbhísí Uisce

Ceisteanna (264)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

264. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an raibh aon chomhráití aige leis an Aire Tithíochta, Pleanála agus Rialtais Áitiúil maidir le na scéimeanna coireála eisiltigh atá ag Údarás na Gaeltachta a aistriú chuig Uise Éireann le go bhfeadfaí na córais seo a úsáid le aghaidh an pobail i gcoitinne; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5755/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Leis an Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta a bhaineann an t-ábhar seo. Tuigim gur chuir an Teachta an cheist chéanna ar an Aire sin agus go gcuirfear freagra ar fáil an tseachtain seo.

Citizenship Status

Ceisteanna (265)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

265. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to change the process by which British citizens who are married to Irish citizens and living and working here for a number of years have to go through the full citizenship process in order to obtain an Irish passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

There is specific provision made in the Act in relation to persons resident on the island of Ireland. Section 15A provides that, where the application is based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the requirements include that the couple are married or civil partners to each other for a period of at least 3 years and are living together and, immediately before the date of application, have a period of one year's continuous residence in the island of Ireland and, during the preceding four years, have a further period amounting to 2 years (i.e. 3 years in total).

It is also open to an applicant generally to apply under Section 16(a) of the 1956 Act where the applicant is of Irish descent or has Irish association. In such cases the Minister may in his absolute discretion waive the conditions for naturalisation set out under Section 15 of the Act, including residency. The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of Irish descent or Irish association to the Minister for consideration.

There are no plans at this time to revisit the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie .

Child Custody and Access

Ceisteanna (266)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

266. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if progress is being made to ensure that fathers have equal rights when applying for custody and access to their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4955/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Irish family law places an emphasis on recognising the rights of a child to the society of both his or her parents. Very significant modernisation of the law in this area was brought about in 2015 with the enactment of the Children and Family Relationships 2015, which amended extensively the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.

The reforms in family law provided for in that Act recognise the crucial role of parents and the need for a child to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents.

Married parents of a child are automatically joint guardians and have joint custody of their children. Where married parents separate or divorce, they can decide between themselves on custody arrangements for their children or apply to the courts to decide on the matter.

The Deputy will be aware that Article 42A.4 of the Constitution requires that provision be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings concerning the guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration. Section 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration for the court in any proceedings where guardianship, custody or upbringing of, or access to, a child is in question. Section 31 of the 1964 Act sets out a wide range of factors that the court is required to take into account when determining the best interests of the child in such proceedings. These factors include the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with each of his or her parents. The courts shall have regard to all of these factors or circumstances that it regards as being relevant to the child concerned and his or her family and make its decision accordingly.

Section 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that either parent of a child, whether or not he or she is also a guardian of the child, may apply to court for a direction regarding the custody of a child or the right of access to the child. Section 11D of the 1964 Act obliges the court in proceedings under section 11 to consider whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with each of his or her parents on a regular basis.

Section 25 of the 1964 Act also requires the court, as it thinks appropriate and practicable, to take into account the child's wishes in guardianship, custody and access matters, having regard to the age and understanding of the child.

Section 12A of the 1964 Act provides that in making any order under the Act, the court may impose such conditions as it considers to be necessary in the best interests of the child.

The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 made provision to assist parents who need to return to court because the other parent has breached a court order in relation to custody of, or access to, a child. Section 56 of the 2015 Act inserted a new section 18A into the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964. This provides that where a parent or guardian of a child has been granted custody of or access to the child under the 1964 Act, but he or she has been unreasonably denied such custody or access by another guardian or parent, that person may apply to court for an enforcement order.

I have no role in the making of court orders in relation to guardianship, custody and access to children. This is a matter for the courts, which are, subject to the Constitution and the law, independent in the performance of their functions.

While there are no plans at present for further amendment of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 in relation to custody and access, the operation of the law in this area is kept under ongoing review by my Department.

I aim to publish proposals early in 2019 for a new approach to handling family law cases in Ireland at District, Circuit and High Court levels. This will be done by legislation to create a new dedicated Family Court within the Circuit and District Courts which will sit with dedicated Family Court judges and deal only with family law business. These courts will have new procedures aimed at less adversarial resolution of disputes, and facilities and case management aimed at helping litigants and seeking to resolve issues between the parties short of having to bring them before the courts.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Ceisteanna (267)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

267. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if applications are open for the community-based CCTV scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4962/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems. In furtherance of this commitment, a grant-aid scheme to assist groups in the establishment of community-based CCTV systems in their local areas is being administered by my Department. In total, funding of €1 million is available each year for three years. Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities, can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000.

There have to date been 28 applications to the scheme and 20 applications have been approved, involving grants totalling more than €500,000.

I can confirm that the scheme remains open for applications from interested groups in 2019.

I am keen to ensure that all interested groups, in both rural and urban areas, have the opportunity to take advantage of the availability of this grant aid scheme. If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, details of the grant aid package are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups to apply for this funding through a dedicated email address communitycctv@justice.ie

More generally, the Deputy may wish to be aware that all community CCTV schemes are governed by Community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI No 289 of 2006). This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,

- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner, and

- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller.

This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded and the Deputy will appreciate that as such, these statutory requirements must be met by applicants for funding from my Department.

I would encourage any groups interested in the scheme to examine the details available on my Department's website and to make contact with my officials, via the email address detailed above, if they require further assistance.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (268)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

268. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a review of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 will be carried out in view of recent statistics on arrests for prostitution offences (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5030/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 provides for two new offences of paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person. The Act also removes those who offer their services as a prostitute from the existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution.

Part 4 of the Act specifies that, not later than 3 years after its commencement, a Report will be prepared on the number of arrests and convictions in respect of the new offences, as well as an assessment of the impact on those who provide sexual services for payment. I am expecting that this review will be published in March 2020.

Inputs to this report will come from a number of sources. Firstly, the monitoring of investigations, arrests and convictions by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau. Additional information will be provided by the HSE’s Women’s Health Service and by civil society organisations working in this field. Furthermore, this year my Department is funding a number of research projects that will measure the impact of the new legislation on the welfare of women engaged in prostitution, the outcomes of which will also inform the Report.

Regarding the second part of the Deputy’s question on statistics relating to arrests for prostitution offences, I have requested information from An Garda Síochána, and will be in further contact with the Deputy when this is received.

Public Inquiries

Ceisteanna (269, 279, 280)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

269. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress with regard to establishing a public inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5062/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

279. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action he has taken to establish a public enquiry into an incident as passed by a vote in Dáil Éireann on 14 June 2018; the reason for the delay in giving effect to this decision; if he has received advice from the Attorney General in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5293/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

280. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to media reports (details supplied); if he will direct An Garda Síochána to provide an explanation on the discrepancies as reported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5294/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 269, 279 and 280 together.

The Deputy will recall that last June the Dáil passed a motion calling for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fatal road incident in which a young man, Shane O'Farrell, tragically lost his life.

Since the passing of the Dáil motion I have been considering how best to give effect to the wishes of the House. I have consulted with the Attorney General. As I have previously emphasised, this Government has long been committed to considering what further steps could be taken with regard to this case once the ongoing investigations into the matter by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission were completed.

I have now been informed by GSOC that their disciplinary investigation is complete and that they have provided a copy of the report to the Garda Commissioner for follow up and written to the O’Farrell family with regard to their findings. I met with the O'Farrell family today to outline how I intend to take the matter forward. A District Court Judge, Gerard Haughton, is being appointed to conduct a scoping exercise into the circumstances leading to Shane O'Farrell's tragic death.

I also took the opportunity to once again express my sincere condolences to Mrs. O'Farrell and her family for their tragic loss and I have assured them that Judge Haughton will meet with them in early course and that he is entirely free to recommend any course of action to me which he considers appropriate.

The judge has been asked to submit an interim report within 8 weeks, as part of which he will indicate the expected timeframe for completion of the scoping exercise. The terms of reference will be published on my Department’s website today.

Garda Powers

Ceisteanna (270)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

270. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the role of An Garda Síochána in the supervision of a service (details supplied) in view of recent online posts in which instruction was given to users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5070/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am aware of the issue referred to in the Deputy's question and of the reported comments of the Garda authorities.

Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that the Commissioner is responsible for the direction and control of the Garda Síochána. This issue is clearly an operational matter for An Garda Síochána and I have no role in that regard.

For clarification purposes, however, I can advise the House that An Garda Síochána have informed me that they have no role or function in the supervision of Twitter or other forms of social media, or in enforcing the data protection responsibilities of organisations or individuals. That is a matter for the Data Protection Commissioner.

I am informed that in the case of Cycle Cam footage posted on Twitter in this instance, the objective of An Garda Síochána was to advise individuals of their responsibilities in circumstances where another person’s personal data is involved. It should be noted that the public were requested not to post or link such videos to Garda social media accounts. I am informed that various options for reporting crime are outlined on the Garda website and if cyclists feel that they have evidence of the commission of an offence they can do so using the appropriate methods.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (271)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

271. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if legislation will be introduced to provide for domestic homicide reviews as has been introduced in the UK under section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crimes and Victims Act 2004. [5090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have been advised by the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána that the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) has introduced a process whereby specific homicide incidents, which are believed to have involved domestic violence, are the subject of review. The purpose of each review is to establish lessons which can be learned from examining the circumstances of an incident, in order to inform the updating of current Garda Síochána policy on domestic violence.

While there are no plans to amend the law at this time, the matter is being kept under review, including assessing the UK experience, as referred to by the Deputy.

Crime Prevention

Ceisteanna (272)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

272. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans make the text alert facility free of charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5140/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Text Alert Scheme, which was developed with the support of Muintir na Tíre, Neighbourhood Watch and the Irish Farmers Association, was introduced in September 2013. The scheme provides an effective means for Gardaí to distribute local crime prevention information and advice. I understand that approximately 200,000 text messages are sent under the scheme each month.

I am advised that the yearly costs typically incurred by Text Alert groups include affiliation fees with a Text Alert service provider, the cost of issuing text messages to each member of the community who is signed up to receive text alerts as part of their local scheme and some insurance costs.

My Department provides annual funding to Muintir na Tíre in relation to the employment and associated costs of the national Community Alert programme, including the employment of three regional Development Officers. These Development Officers provide support to Community and Text Alert schemes and offer advice on how to establish new schemes. Funding is also provided to offset the costs incurred by community groups including the cost of issuing the text messages under the Text Alert Rebate Scheme.

Funding of up to €150,000 was made available by my Department for local communities towards the cost of running the scheme in each of the years 2017 and 2018. A total of 441 groups received a rebate on the basis of vouched costs. Where documentation was not available but a group had been active during the year, a nominal rebate was offered and the group was encouraged to retain all receipts and documentation relating to monies spent on the local Text Alert scheme in the subsequent year, in order to claim a full amount. At present, there are no plans to change the methodology of how the scheme is funded, but the administration of the scheme is reviewed by my Department on an ongoing basis.

The Garda authorities indicate that Text Alert is an effective crime prevention initiative. The financial support is in keeping with a commitment in the Programme for Government and is a tangible recognition of the considerable voluntary effort which goes into Text Alert and similar community-based schemes.

In addition, I should also mention that, for many years, my Department has supported community crime prevention by providing funding for the Community Alert programme, which is operated by Muintir na Tíre in partnership with the Garda authorities.

Spent Convictions

Ceisteanna (273)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

273. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if each person that has a spent conviction under the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016, has had their record dealt with electronically in such a way as to ensure that systems such as PULSE do not militate against them. [5155/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 provides that a person is not obliged to disclose certain convictions which are over 7 years old, subject to specified limitations. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the following convictions are now spent:

1) All convictions in the District Court for motoring offences which are more than 7 years old subject to the proviso that spent convictions for dangerous driving are limited to a single conviction.

2) All convictions in the District Court for minor public order offences which are more than 7 years old.

3) In addition, where a person has one, and only one, conviction (other than a motoring or public order offence) which resulted in a term of imprisonment of less than 12 months (or a fine), that conviction is spent after 7 years. This provision applies to either a District Court or Circuit Court conviction.

Sexual offences or convictions in the Central Criminal Court are not eligible to become spent convictions.

The Act also made a series of amendments to the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 in respect of the arrangements for the disclosure or otherwise of past convictions in the context of the vetting process. These provisions are applied by the National Vetting Bureau in the context of processing vetting applications.

The fact that a conviction may be a spent conviction does not mean it ceases to be part of the person's criminal record; however a person will not be penalised in law or incur any liability for failing to disclose a spent conviction.

There is no formal procedure to be gone through to have a conviction declared spent. If the conviction is eligible to be spent, it becomes spent once seven years has passed from the date of conviction.

While a person would not be penalised for failing to disclose a conviction that is spent, disclosure is required in certain circumstances including for example for specified work, such as with An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, or applying for a public service vehicle, private security, taxi or firearm licence.

It is also the case that section 7 of the 2016 Act provides that a court may admit or require evidence regarding a spent conviction in certain circumstances and subject to any necessary restrictions with regard to publication of that evidence.

Arising from the above, An Garda Síochána is not required to expunge the details of such offences from PULSE. The Deputy will appreciate that the day-to-day operation of the PULSE system is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

Naturalisation Certificates

Ceisteanna (274)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

274. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the fees for pensioners seeking citizenship will be reduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5202/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011).

The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is set at €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil.

There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, duration of residency or age. The current rate of fees are comparable with other jurisdictions.

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.

Any review of fees would have to consider other categories of applicants, such as EU nationals, and the impact any changes would have on the level of fees for other applicants.

Wards of Court

Ceisteanna (275)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

275. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if wards of court continue to benefit adequately from their status in the case of children or adults that have been made wards of court; the extent to which questions have been raised on this issue by family members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5209/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in wards of court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that there are two categories of ward of court, adult and minor. An adult might require the court’s protection because of mental incapacity. This covers the majority of persons taken into wardship. When considering whether or not a person over the age of 18 years should be taken into wardship, the court must be satisfied that the person is, on the basis of the medical evidence available, mentally incapacitated and incapable of managing his or her affairs, and that it is necessary for the protection of his or her person or property that s/he be taken into Wardship.

A minor (child under 18 years of age) might also require the court’s protection and there are a number of reasons why it might be necessary to take a young person into wardship. The most common reason is that the child has been awarded substantial damages by a Court and has special housing or care needs. Wardship is declared only where it is considered necessary for the protection and/or benefit of the relevant person. While the needs of each ward are different, all wards are under a legal disability and are therefore vulnerable persons.

The Wards of Court Office, under the direction of President of the High Court, takes its responsibility to protect the person and property of every ward seriously. It ensures that the ward’s assets are protected and appropriately invested, approves expenditure on the ward’s behalf, deals with the ward’s committee or guardian (usually a family member) to ensure that the ward’s personal needs are met, deals with proposals for sale, purchase or adaptation of accommodation for the ward’s benefit, liaises with healthcare professionals and drafts proposals on the person and property of the ward for the President of the High Court.

The Courts Service has also advised that the committee or guardians are usually family members. In cases where there is no suitable relative who is prepared to act, or where there is disagreement among the ward’s relatives which cannot be resolved, or where a conflict of interest arises, the court may appoint the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court to act as an independent committee or guardian to ensure that the interests of the ward are protected.

Furthermore, the Wards of Court Office appoints a case officer for each ward of court when the person is brought into wardship. The case officer meets with the committee or guardian appointed by the President of the High Court and will liaise with that committee or guardian throughout the wardship to ensure that the care and monetary needs of the ward are met. Case officers in the Wards of Court Office are all experienced Civil Servants of at least Assistant Principal level. If any concern is raised by the committee or guardian as to the property, affairs or welfare of the ward that is dealt with by the case officer in conjunction with the committee or guardian.

The Deputy will be aware that the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on 30 December 2015 and provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. New administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health), must be put in place before the substantive provisions of the Act can be commenced.

The Act provides for the repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and the Marriage of Lunatics Act 1811. The current Wards of Court system for adults will be phased out over a three year period from the commencement of Part 6 of the Act. The Act offers a continuum of options to support people in maximising their decision-making capability.

Each adult ward (a ward who has attained the age of 18 years by the date of commencement of Part 6 of the Act) will be reviewed in accordance with the new system. A ward who is found to have capacity will be discharged from wardship. A ward who continues to have capacity needs will be discharged from wardship and offered the support option most appropriate to his or her needs.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (276)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

276. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of an application for residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5214/19]

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 requested permission to remain on 8 October 2018. It would appear, from a preliminary examination, that the person's presence in the State is unlawful.

The Deputy will appreciate that, under the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2004, a non-national may not be in the State other than within the terms of a permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality.

In that regard the individual’s circumstances are currently under consideration by INIS and it is expected that a decision will issue by end of March, 2019.

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 Data

Ceisteanna (277)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

277. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide details relating to the provision of accommodation in emergency reception orientation centres to persons arriving through the Irish refugee protection programme; the number of centres operating; the location of each; the number of persons being accommodated in such centres; the length of time in months persons have been accommodated in tabular form; and the person or body that has oversight for the conditions in centres. [5237/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Persons arriving in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme are initially accommodated in Emergency Reception and Accommodation Centres (EROCS).

Three EROCs are in operation. These are:

- The Abbeyfield Hotel, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon

- The Clonea Strand Hotel, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

- Mosney Accommodation Centre, Co. Meath

Information in relation to the numbers accommodated in such centres including the length of time these persons have been accommodated is currently being compiled and will be provided directly to the Deputy in the coming days.

It should be noted that accommodating persons in EROCs is considered to be good practice as it allows for a period of acclimatisation, de-stressing and on-site processing. It is also a process that is supported by the UNHCR as best practice. The services provided in EROCs include education, the services of a General Practitioner, HSE medical screening and access to the services of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Oversight for the conditions in centres is the responsibility of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme within the Department of Justice and Equality. In addition to this, since April 2017, residents in accommodation centres can make complaints to the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children in relation to the services and facilities provided in their accommodation centre.

Employment Rights

Questions Nos. 279 and 280 answered with Question No. 269.

Ceisteanna (278)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

278. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to implement legislation that will outlaw in most instances contracts that stipulate a person has to retire at 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Minister for Justice and Equality’s role in relation to retirement ages is limited to aspects covered by equality legislation. Equality legislation provides that retirement ages are in line with the relevant EU Directive provision permitting differences of treatment on the grounds of age, if, within the context of national law, they are objectively and reasonably justified by a legitimate aim. It is a matter for employers to comply with those requirements and to respond to any complaint made by any individual, who believes that he or she has suffered discrimination under one of the grounds contained in the Employment Equality Acts, to the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Minister has no responsibility for mandatory retirement ages applied by employers, either in the public or private sector.

Questions Nos. 279 and 280 answered with Question No. 269.