Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (265)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

265. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to extend the right to Irish citizenship to British persons who have lived here at some time in their life for more than five successive years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8412/19]

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. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.

Section 15 of the Act provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation if satisfied that certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are that the applicant must :

- be of full age, or a minor born in the State,

- be of good character,

- have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence in the State amounting to four years,

- intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation,

- have, before a judge of the District Court in open court, in a citizenship ceremony or in such manner as the Minister, for special reasons, allows—(i) made a declaration, in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and(ii) undertaken to faithfully observe the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values.

Section 15A provides that, notwithstanding the above, where the application is based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the requirements are, inter alia, 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). Section 15A(2) provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion waive some of the conditions in relation to an application from a spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen if he is satisfied that the applicant would suffer serious consequences in respect of his or her bodily integrity or liberty if not granted Irish citizenship.

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

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory conditions as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. There are no plans to amend the legislation at this time.

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

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (266)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

266. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe in which a passport can be returned to a person who submits it alongside an application for citizenship. [7698/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that all applications for naturalisation must be accompanied by a current in-date passport.

Every effort will be made to return an applicants passport as quickly as possible. An applicant for naturalisation should, however, allow a period of about 6 weeks for its return as relevant documents submitted in support of an application are the subject of document verification checks.

It is therefore strongly advised that an applicant does not submit an application for naturalisation prior to any upcoming travel or in the knowledge they will need their passport urgently. In exceptional cases, arrangements can be made to have the return of a passport expedited but it is incumbent on the applicant to make the Citizenship Division of my Department aware of such a need.

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

Courts Service Properties

Ceisteanna (267)

John Brassil

Ceist:

267. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of plans to redevelop Tralee court services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7699/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that, as part of its provincial capital building programme, one of the objectives is to provide improved court accommodation in Tralee which is one of a number of provincial city/county town venues nationwide still requiring new or upgraded courthouse accommodation. Collectively these venues will be the next priority for investment in courthouse facilities outside the capital.

The Courts Service has advised that it envisages a courthouse comprising four courtrooms and related facilities (consultation rooms, custody facilities, facilities for juries and vulnerable witnesses, and legal practitioner’s suites) as being required to meet current and future needs in Tralee and that this will require a building significantly larger than the existing courthouse on Ashe Street. The scope for refurbishing and developing the existing courthouse on Ashe Street to provide the envisaged accommodation is extremely limited due to the nature of the building and the constrained nature of the site.

The Courts Service has also advised that it is currently considering a number of options for Tralee Courthouse, including the level of extension and refurbishment achievable within the confines of the existing courthouse site; whether it would be feasible to acquire an adjacent town centre site and the degree of extension and refurbishment this would allow. Previous efforts to acquire adjacent sites on Ashe Street have not been successful as the sites could not be acquired at a price that represented value for money.

A further option is to build a new modern courthouse on a greenfield/brownfield site and a number of potential sites are being considered in this regard.

The Courts Service has further advised that the Chief Executive of the Courts Service has recently met with the Chief Executive of Kerry County Council in Tralee to discuss the future provision of court facilities there. The Courts Service has informed me that a decision has not yet been made and that all options are under review.

A number of developments in relation to Courts Service accommodation requirements are outlined in the Government's recent National Development Plan 2018 - 2027. They include:

- Further new or refurbished courthouses in regional cities and county towns where facilities remain substandard (including Galway City, Wicklow Town, Portlaoise, Tralee and Roscommon) and further provincial locations such as An Clochan Liath (Dungloe) to serve as the Gaeltacht court for the region, and Tuam;

- Regional Family Law Centres;

- A nationwide condition survey of all court buildings in the estate will be undertaken to determine their condition and identify works required in relation to any issues identified and meet ongoing maintenance requirements.

The precise allocation and timing of additional funding over the entire ten year period remains to be fully determined. It will be dependent on the outcome of further detailed planning and analysis of costs which will determine prioritisation of projects from a timing and budgetary perspective.

New Communities Unit

Ceisteanna (268, 270)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

268. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the funding an organisation (details supplied) receives through its membership of the new communities partnership each year; the reason this funding is given to the organisation; and the legislation under which the organisation receives funding from his Department. [7717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

270. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has a service level agreement directly with an organisation (details supplied); if so, the service provided by the organisation; and the persons for whom the service is provided. [7719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 270 together.

I can confirm that my Department does not have a service level agreement with nor does it provide funding directly to the Venezuelan Community in Ireland.

I have outlined in my response to question 269 the grant funding provided by my Department to the New Communities Partnership for different migrant integration programmes, including the purposes to which that grant funding goes.

New Communities Unit

Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 268.

Ceisteanna (269)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

269. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has a service level agreement with the new communities partnership. [7718/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department has three grant agreements with the New Communities Partnership, which is an national network of immigrant-led groups.

In September 2016 an invitation issued to organisations, by way of an open call, to submit proposals to receive funding for projects related to the Integration and Employment of Migrants. New Communities Partnership was one of five projects who were successful in securing grant funding. A Grant Agreement is in place for an award of €329,045 over a four-year term from 29th March 2017 to 28th March 2021. The Grant Agreement sets out the terms and conditions related to the grant and includes details about eligible expenditure, reporting requirements, payment schedule, budget, operations plan, etc. The grant is 50% co-financed by the Department of Justice and Equality and 50% by the European Social Fund. To date, €197,427 has been paid to New Communities Partnership under this grant award.

The grant is to support New Communities Partnership’s ‘Migrant Access Programme’ which provides employment training and supports for unemployed/under-employed migrants in Ireland. The supports include assessment of needs for participants and training courses and workshops to create and upskill their capability to access the labour market.

The Department of Justice and Equality is a beneficiary of funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and administers funding for the Programme for Employment, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-20. This programme has a number of actions and in this case Action 2.7 related to the Integration and Employment of Migrants. The funding awarded to New Communities partnership is subject to EU rules regarding the management of funds and its operations and finances are closely monitored by the Department in accordance with the Grant Agreement.

The other two grant agreements with the New Communities Partnership are as follows:

The organisation received €117,000 in 2017 for a 3 year project aimed at youth integration, as part of National Funding to Promote the Integration of Immigrants, and funding of €5,000 allocated under the Communities Integration Fund in 2018, for a Cork city-based integration programme. Both the National Funding to Promote the Integration of Migrants and the Communities Integration Fund are administered by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration within my Department, with awards made following an open competitive process.

Question No. 270 answered with Question No. 268.

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (271)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

271. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of occasions in each of the years 2016 to 2018 when An Garda Síochána intervened to cease the unlawful operation of gaming machines. [7735/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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.

Execution of Wills

Ceisteanna (272)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

272. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he or the Law Reform Commission will examine the procedures appertaining to the making of wills with a view to minimising a scenario (details supplied); the extent to which such cases have had to be dealt with by the courts in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The position is that Part VII of the Succession Act 1965 sets out the following legal requirements for the making of a valid will:

- it must be in writing;

- the testator must be over 18 years of age (the testator may be under 18 if he or she is or has been married);

- the testator must be of sound mind;

- the testator must sign or mark the will in the presence of two witnesses;

- the two witnesses must sign the will in the testator's presence;

- the witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will;

- the witnesses must see the testator sign the will;

- the signature of the testator must be at the end of the will.

These statutory provisions, as interpreted by the superior courts in relevant case law, provide robust safeguards in relation to the validity of wills.

It is, of course, possible for a person to commence legal proceedings challenging a will on the grounds of either the diminished capacity of the testator to make a valid will, or the testator's ability freely to make decisions in disposing of their property by will.

When determining whether or not a testator had the capacity to make a will, courts will generally consider whether he or she understood the nature of the act of making the will and its effect, and whether the testator understood the extent of the property of which he or she was disposing.

Where undue influence is alleged, the law places the burden of proving such undue influence on the person alleging it. In order to succeed, the court must be satisfied that:

(a) the person alleged to exert the influence had the power or opportunity to do so;

(b) undue influence was in fact exerted; and

(c) the will was the product of that influence.

Detailed information on cases taken in the courts in relation to alleged undue influence is not available; in any event, the outcome in each case will depend on the particular circumstances of that case.

While I have no current plans to amend legislation in this area, the operation of the law in this area is kept under review in my Department.

Citizenship Status

Ceisteanna (273)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

273. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person who has been resident and married here for over 20 years must provide proof of residency for each of those years; and if as a spouse of an Irish citizen he or she must prove residency for the past three years. [7801/19]

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. It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory conditions for naturalisation prescribed in the Act.

The statutory residence conditions are that the applicant must have a period of 1 year's continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the 8 years immediately preceding that period, have had a further total residence amounting to 4 years (in the case of an application based on being the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen the Act reduces this further period to 2 years during the preceding 4 years).

Proofs of residency are required for each of these years, not each year the applicant has been resident in this jurisdiction.

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.

National Children's Hospital Expenditure

Ceisteanna (274)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

274. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the projects which have been delayed as a result of cost overruns at the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

No projects in the Justice and Equality sector have been delayed for the reasons referred to. It has been agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to re-profile an amount of €10 million in capital expenditure for the construction of the new Forensic Science Laboratory from 2019 until 2020/21 based on an assessment by OPW of procurement and expenditure timelines. The funding is not being withdrawn but rather re-profiled to when it is needed. No delay or rescheduling of the project arises as a consequence.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (275)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

275. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it is acceptable to send a certified copy of a passport with a citizenship application in circumstances in which an applicant may need to travel abroad in the interim. [7856/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that all applications for naturalisation must be accompanied by a current in-date passport.

Every effort will be made to return an applicants passport as quickly as possible. An applicant for naturalisation should, however, allow a period of about 6 weeks for its return as relevant documents submitted in support of an application are the subject of document verification checks.

It is therefore strongly advised that an applicant does not submit an application for naturalisation prior to any upcoming travel or in the knowledge they will need their passport urgently. In exceptional cases, arrangements can be made to have the return of a passport expedited but it is incumbent on the applicant to make the Citizenship Division of my Department aware of such a need.

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.

Road Traffic Offences Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (276)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

276. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who have been prosecuted, fined or penalised for the offence of tailgating at the M1 toll barrier in each of the years 2014 to 2018. [7887/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that my Department is not responsible for road traffic enforcement, which is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. However, to be of assistance, I have asked An Garda Síochána whether it is possible to extract the specific statistics sought in response to your query.

I will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of a Garda response.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question 276 of 19 February 2019, in which the Deputy asked for information on the number of persons that have been prosecuted, fined or penalised for the offence of tailgating at the M1 toll barrier, in each of the years 2014 to 2018. The Deputy may recall I had asked An Garda Síochána whether this data is available. Unfortunately, I have been informed that such statistics cannot be compiled as there is no specific offence for "tailgating".
An Garda Síochána state that in instances where a vehicle is reportedly driving too close to a vehicle in front, they can consider prosecuting for other offences such as driving without reasonable consideration[1], careless driving[2] or dangerous driving[3] . Of course, it should be noted that any statistics compiled on incidents involving these offences would also include incidents not related to tailgating.
[1] Section 51(a) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as substituted by section 4 of the Road Traffic (No. 2) Act 2011)
[2] Section 52(1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as substituted by section 4 of the Road Traffic (No. 2) Act 2011)
[3] Section 53(1) of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 (as substituted by section 4 of the Road Traffic (No. 2) Act 2011).

Deportation Orders

Ceisteanna (277)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

277. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if regard was given to the marriage of a person (details supplied) to an Irish citizen before review and the decision to deport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7897/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order signed on 29 September 2017. This Order requires the person to remove themselves from the State and remain outside the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

Representations were received from the person concerned, pursuant to the provisions of section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked including information regarding her marriage. Following the detailed consideration of the information submitted in support of the request, the Deportation Order was affirmed and notified to the person concerned by letter dated 27 November 2018.

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.

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (278)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

278. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount An Garda Síochána spent on purchasing new Garda mountain bikes in 2017 and 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7944/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

There has been unprecedented investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years. The budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 is €1.76 billion and very significant capital investment is also being made in Garda ICT, the Garda estate and the Garda fleet.

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána and for allocation of Garda resources, in light of his identified operational demands. As such and as the Deputy will appreciate, decisions in relation to the effective and efficient use of resources, including mountain bikes, are also a matter for the Commissioner. I understand that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that no new mountain bikes were purchased in 2017. I am further informed that a total of €33,173 was spent on new mountain bikes by An Garda Síochána in 2018 and that a total of €6,399 has been spent to date in 2019.

Garda Accommodation

Ceisteanna (279)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

279. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of funding allocated for the building programme of An Garda Síochána under the Capital Plan 2016 to 2021; the amount spent in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7945/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for An Garda Síochána and is responsible for carrying on and managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána including the allocating of funding within An Garda Síochána.

Further, the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for the information requested and when it is received I will write directly to the Deputy.

Citizenship Ceremonies

Ceisteanna (280)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

280. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the citizenship ceremonies will take place in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7986/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the next date for a citizenship ceremony has been set for April 29th 2019 at the INEC in Killarney County Kerry.

As soon as additional dates for 2019 are agreed, these will be communicated via the INIS website. www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/citizenship.

Garda Strength

Ceisteanna (281)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

281. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda numbers for the Donegal division in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, respectively; the Garda numbers stationed in each Garda station within the division; the number of community gardaí within the division; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8002/19]

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.

The Garda strength by Station and Rank for the Donegal Division in each of the years from 2010 to 2018 is available on my Department’s website through the following link: www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and%20Station_2009_to_30_December_2018.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and%20Station_2009_to_30_December_2018.xlsx.

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

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the Community Garda Strength in the Donegal Division in each of the years from 2010 to 2018, the latest date for which figures are currently available, as supplied by the Garda Commissioner are as set out in the following table.

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

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

Garda Strength presented - Community Gardaí Donegal Division 2010 - 2018

Year

Community Gardaí

Total

2010

37

466

2011

35

444

2012

24

427

2013

29

409

2014

26

397

2015

24

392

2016

2

382

2017

2

386

2018

4

404

Total: means all those Gardaí at a station all of whom have community policing as an inherent part of their role

Community Gardaí: are those with the official categorisation and are exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities including giving talks to schools, community groups and others.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (282)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

282. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has written or is writing to disability organisations under the aegis of his Department or in receipt of funding from same requesting savings to be made in their budgets; if so, the details of the organisations; the saving required from each; the rationale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8023/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Department of Justice and Equality does not provide any services to people with disabilities and does not fund any service providers. As a consequence, it has not written to any disability organisations requesting that savings be made in their budgets.

Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (283)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

283. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of knives seized by An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8024/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (284)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

284. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the Thornton Hall site in Fingal; if a detention centre or prison is planned for the location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8062/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the Thornton Hall site was purchased in 2005 with the intention of constructing a large scale prison campus to replace the 19th century complex at Mountjoy Prison which the then Government planned to sell to fund the development. Due to the downturn in the economy, the scale of the project could not be accommodated within the capital allocation available and the project did not proceed. In the decade since the original plan, international research has tended to favour smaller prisons within reach of support communities as the best option for rehabilitation. In addition, in light of the decision not to proceed with Thornton Hall, significant capital investment has been made at the Mountjoy campus over recent years to upgrade accommodation and eliminate the practice of slopping out.

In the meantime, the Thornton Hall site, which is fully serviced and adjacent to Dublin airport, remains in my Department’s ownership. In recent years a working group, which included representatives from the OPW, considered future use options for the site. This included discussions with Fingal County Council. More recently, the site has also been flagged to the Department of Housing and Local Government, and to the Land Development Agency. As such, the site will be considered both in the context of broader State requirements for land assets as well as any future requirements in relation to detention of prisoners.

Ground Rents Abolition

Ceisteanna (285)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

285. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce legislation providing for a referendum to abolish ground rents here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8065/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The general position regarding ground rents was considered by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in its 2004 Report 'Private Property'. The Committee took the view that ground rent is a form of property right which is constitutionally protected and that abolition of such rents would be unconstitutional in the absence of adequate monetary compensation for the landlord. The Committee also noted that where leases were approaching their expiry date, any legislation providing for the abolition of ground rents would have to provide for the payment of enhanced compensation in such cases.

As regards a referendum, the position is that while I have no plans to introduce legislation providing for a referendum to abolish ground rents, operation of existing ground rents legislation is kept under review by my Department.

In this context, I should add that section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978 introduced a prohibition on the creation of new ground rents on dwellings. Moreover, as regards existing ground rents, Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No.2) Act 1978 provides for a statutory scheme whereby a person may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in their dwelling. To date, over 80,000 applicants have acquired freehold title to their property under this scheme. In the case of property other than dwellings, such as commercial premises, the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1967 contains provisions which facilitate acquisition of the fee simple subject to agreed terms or on terms set out in an arbitration carried out by the County Registrar.

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (286)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

286. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 233 of 4 December 2018 and Parliamentary Question No. 432 of 15 January 2019, if he stands over his statement in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 233 of 4 December 2018 that all lawful gaming in amusement and gaming arcades here is confined to areas in respect of which Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 is in force in view of the fact that in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 432 of 15 January 2019, he states that he is advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are two premises in Dublin that either have a gaming licence and are licensed to make available for play or were so licensed up to a recent date in view of the fact that local authorities in Dublin have not passed resolutions to permit such gaming activity under Part III of the Act. [8121/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In my response to Parliamentary Question No. 233 of 4 December 2018, I set out the factual position regarding the provisions of Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 which provides for the lawful pathway for the licencing of gaming machines. This factual position has not changed.

I also highlighted the fact that my Department does not have any role in the licensing of gaming machines under Part III of the 1956 Act. That also remains the position.

In preparing a response to Question No. 435 of 15 January 2019, and in order to present the Deputy in question with the most complete information, my Department sought information from the Revenue Commissioners, who are the licensing authority for gaming machines. It was that information that was provided to the Deputy.

As neither I, nor my Department, is responsible for the issuing of gaming licences, I am not in a position to comment on any circumstances in which such licences may have been issued. I can only suggest that the Deputy makes enquiries of the Minister for Finance in that regard, given his oversight function in relation to the Revenue Commissioners.