Legal Aid Service Data

Ceisteanna (287)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

287. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the eligibility criteria for accessing free legal aid for repossession cases; the average time persons are waiting to access the service for repossession cases; the amount of funding allocated to and drawn down by the Legal Aid Board in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and the amount that has been allocated for 2019. [8131/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I want to start by reiterating the Government’s commitment to providing assistance to persons who may be in danger of losing their home.

Legal aid to defend repossession proceedings is available from the Legal Aid Board, pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, to persons who satisfy the financial eligibility criteria laid down in that Act and in the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017. Principally, the person must have disposable income of less than €18,000 per annum and disposable capital assets of less than €100,000 (excluding the home in which they live).

The person’s case must also satisfy the merits criteria laid down under that Act. These criteria include if the applicant is reasonably likely to be successful in the proceedings and if having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the cost to the Board as against the benefit to the applicant, it is reasonable to grant legal aid.

The Deputy should note that in many repossession cases the applicant is unlikely to have any prospect of success as the lender will usually be entitled to orders for possession and sale in circumstances where the mortgage is valid and in arrears. In such circumstances the applicant is unlikely to meet the criteria for the granting of civil legal aid.

However, they may be eligible under the Abhaile Scheme for both financial and legal advice and help to get a solution in place which will resolve their home mortgage arrears and ensure they can stay in their homes, and I deal with this below.

There is no specific funding provided to the Legal Aid Board for the defence of repossession cases nor does the Board break down spending on such cases. This is because legal services in repossession proceedings, where provided, are entirely provided by salaried solicitors in Legal Aid Board law centres who do other legal aid work e.g. family law and child care. Services are therefore provided out of the Board’s general resources i.e. its grant from the Oireachtas and income from contributions and costs recovered.

There is no separate waiting list for repossession cases and the waiting time applicable is the waiting time at the particular law centre to which the person applies. The waiting times at Legal Aid Board law centres as at 31st January 2019 are set out as an appendix.

I must clarify that the Legal Aid Board is tasked with providing civil legal aid. In most cases this legal aid is not free. While services provided pursuant to the Abhaile scheme are free of charge as they are provided to insolvent persons, most applicants (including those seeking legal services to defend repossession proceedings) pay a contribution for legal advice and a further contribution if they require representation in court.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that insolvent persons seeking legal advice and assistance in relation to repossession proceedings against their home may be able to avail of such advice through the Abhaile scheme, which is the Government’s free mortgage arrears support service, launched by the Government in October 2016.

Abhaile is not focused on bringing challenges to repossession proceedings because in most cases this will not help the borrower, for the reasons explained above. Instead, Abhaile focuses on solving the borrower’s substantive problem, by getting in place a solution to the arrears themselves – at the same time, keeping the borrower in their home and helping them back to solvency. This is a far more sustainable and effective focus for public intervention – both more effective for borrowers, and better for taxpayers.

Abhaile does provides legal aid for a borrower to seek court review under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 (as amended), where creditors refuse a reasonable personal insolvency proposal put forward by the borrower that includes their home mortgage arrears. In the year to July 2018, 64% of such cases were decided in favour of the borrower.

The legal advice and assistance services provided under Abhaile to borrowers regarding home mortgage arrears include advice on repossession proceedings against the home and are as follows :

- A solicitor consultation service, which provides a free legal advice consultation to provide the borrower with independent legal advice on the borrower’s best options for sustainable resolution of the mortgage arrears on their home and on any repossession proceedings affecting the home, with written confirmation of that advice to the borrower. A second consultation is also available under Abhaile, where justified;

- A duty solicitor service, which provides advice and assistance to unrepresented borrowers facing repossession proceedings at county registrars’ courts. With leave of the Court, this can include applying for adjournment to facilitate the borrower getting a solution into place, and speaking for the borrower in court. In addition, MABs court mentors are at court to provide information and support to unrepresented defendants.

The eligibility criteria for the advice and assistance elements of Abhaile are that the person must be:

- insolvent (as defined under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012: i.e. ‘unable to pay their debts in full as they fall due’);

- in mortgage arrears on the home in which they normally reside (principal private residence);

- at risk of losing their home (e.g. they have received from the mortgage lender repossession proceedings, a letter indicating that such proceedings will issue, a letter indicating that they are deemed non-cooperating, or an invitation to consider sale, surrender or other loss of all or part of the home); and

- reasonably accommodated (i.e. the costs of continuing to live in the home are not disproportionately expensive having regard to the needs of the borrower and their dependants).

The Deputy should note that a person admitted to the Abhaile scheme does not need to wait before they are seen by a solicitor for legal advice.

Appendix – Waiting times at Legal Aid Board Law Centres as 31 st January 2019

Waiting for 1st Consultation

Waiting for 2nd Consultation

Law Centre

Longest person waiting

No. Waiting

Longest person waiting

No. Waiting

Athlone

9

28

0

0

Blanchardstown

44

50

0

0

Castlebar

8

21

0

0

Cavan

13

48

0

0

Clondalkin

15

48

0

0

Cork Popes Quay

33

129

0

0

Cork South Mall

21

124

0

0

Dundalk

18

59

0

0

Ennis

16

44

11

16

Finglas

47

130

0

0

Galway Francis St

4

27

0

0

Galway Seville House

8

24

9

20

Jervis Street

19

116

0

0

Kilkenny

20

64

0

0

Letterkenny

11

23

0

0

Limerick

10

56

0

0

Longford

25

70

22

5

Monaghan

15

49

0

0

Navan

23

34

0

5

Nenagh

16

65

0

0

Newbridge

14

44

0

0

Portlaoise

15

47

0

0

Sligo

9

25

0

0

Smithfield

30

89

0

0

Tallaght

25

60

0

0

Tralee

32

120

0

0

Tullamore

10

32

0

0

Waterford

11

57

0

0

Wexford

6

25

0

0

Wicklow

18

52

0

0

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (288)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

288. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average stay of residents living in direct provision up to 31 December 2018, in tabular form; the number of persons staying by time range (details supplied); the percentage of the population in direct provision which these figures represent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The data requested by the Deputy is detailed in the following tabular statement. The figures in this table equate to the total numbers residing in accommodation provided by the Reception and Integration Agency, including emergency accommodation, as of 31st December 2018.

Duration of Stay by applicants in State provided accommodation in Months.

0>3

3>6

6>9

9>12

12>18

18>24

24>36

36>48

48>60

60>72

72>84

84+

722

678

469

495

790

565

868

864

289

146

65

142

11.8%

11.1%

7.7%

8.1%

13.0%

9.3%

14.2%

14.2%

4.7%

2.4%

1.1%

2.3%

Mean length of Stay: 23 Months

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Ceisteanna (289)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

289. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the basis on which the 25 refugees that Ireland agreed to take from a ship (details supplied) in the summer of 2018 were brought here; and if they were relocated here as refugee protection programme refugees or otherwise. [8163/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

With regard to the vessel referred to by the Deputy, Ireland is one of eight EU Member States who, as a gesture of solidarity, agreed to accept some of the migrants who were on board.

On 1 July 2018 a team from the International Protection Office (IPO) travelled to Malta to arrange for 25 migrants from the vessel to transfer to Ireland in line with a commitment given by the Government. Ireland accepted 26 migrants (4 minors and 22 adults) into the State in order to have their asylum claims processed by the IPO.

These migrants were relocated to Ireland under the IRPP (Irish Refugee Protection Programme), under the SARS strand (Mediterranean Search and Rescue Missions). In total 58 migrants have been accepted under the SARS strand of the IRPP to date.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (290)

John Lahart

Ceist:

290. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of motorbikes purchased for the roads policing unit of An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and the number that were withdrawn from the fleet during same period. [8207/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

There has been unprecedented investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years.

In relation to Garda vehicles, €46 million has been provided by the Government for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021, to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet allowing Gardaí to be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. This is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the Garda fleet in the period 2013 to 2015. I am pleased to confirm that a capital allocation of €10 million is available to An Garda Síochána for the purchase of Garda vehicles in 2019.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. This includes responsibility for the distribution of Garda resources, including allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no role in that matter. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that their optimum use.

For the Deputy's information, the following table, provided to me by the Garda authorities, sets out the number of motorbikes purchased and allocated to Roads Policing in the years requested and the number of motorbikes withdrawn from the fleet over the same period.

Year

Allocated

Withdrawn

2016

48

11

2017

0

11

2018

11

7

2019 (*to 14/02/2019)

0

0

Road Traffic Offences

Ceisteanna (291, 298)

John Curran

Ceist:

291. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress being made by the cross-agency group on the issue of illegal use of scramblers and quad bikes; the outcome of the engagement; the steps that will be taken as a result of the recent report issued by the group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8235/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

298. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the work of the inter-agency group to consider problems associated with the widespread and dangerous use of quads and scramblers; if advice has been received from the Attorney General in relation to strengthening the law in respect of the use of these vehicles in areas which are not public roads in addition to the question of strengthening Garda powers to confiscate the vehicles; the way in which he plans to proceed in respect of the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 and 298 together.

I appreciate the Deputies' ongoing concern in relation to this serious public order issue.

As I have previously outlined, my Department's main focus over the past number of months has been on the consideration of legal advice received from the Office of the Attorney General in November. This required engagement with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in the context of existing road traffic legislation.

The Deputies will be aware from my most recent reply that the consensus of both Departments, and the Office of the Attorney General, is that road traffic and public order legislation appear to provide adequate means for prosecuting offences relating to this anti-social behaviour.

My officials are currently consulting with An Garda Síochána in order to identify any specific enforcement issues from a Garda perspective insofar as existing road traffic and public order legislation is concerned and will convene a cross-agency meeting, comprising the Department of Transport, An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Attorney General, in the coming weeks in order to identify specific solutions to deal with the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes.

Insofar as Deputy Curran's reference to a report issued by the cross-agency grouping is concerned, my reference to a report in the House on 13 February was to the legal advice sought from the Attorney General in the aftermath of the initial meeting of this grouping, which as I indicated above, was received in November.

Enforcement in areas which are not public roads has been problematic but the Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to provide any further details in relation to the legal advice until such time as the current consultations are concluded.

A further meeting of the local authority taskforce is scheduled for Thursday of this week, and my officials will provide an update on the consultations to date. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the taskforce for its input into the current consultations and to extend my appreciation to the community-based organisations and other interested parties that have contributed to the consideration of this matter. I also acknowledge the contribution of the Finglas South Combined Residents Association this month. Many of the issues raised will be discussed at the forthcoming cross-agency meeting and I can assure the Deputies of my ongoing commitment to this matter.

Drugs Crime

Ceisteanna (292)

John Curran

Ceist:

292. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons convicted for possession of drugs with a value of more than €13,000; the number that received sentences of less than one year, one to three years, three to five years, five to ten years and more than ten years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8237/19]

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 is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, which includes the provision of information on the courts system.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 provides for the offence relating to possession of drugs with a value of in excess of €12,500. This is an indictable offence that is heard in the Circuit Court.

The Courts Service has further advised that the Circuit Court statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide information requested by the Deputy with regard to specific offences such as offences under Section 15A of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977 as requested by the Deputy.

The Courts Service has informed me that statistics in relation to Drugs Offences dealt with in the Circuit Court in 2017, which would include Section 15A offences, are provided in the Annual Report 2017 and are set out in the following table.

Circuit Court – Drugs Offences 2017

Drugs

Number

Offences

1,955

Defendants*

557

Guilty pleas

1,158

Trials - Convicted

16

Trials - Acquitted

22

Nolle prosequi

620

TIC non-conviction

174

Quash return for trial

0

Accused deceased

2

Note: * There may be more than one offence brought against a defendant.

The Courts Service is currently compiling the 2018 statistics which should be finalised in the coming weeks.

The Courts Service has advised that given the variation in sentences imposed and the fact that the suspended element of a sentence varies from cases to case, it is not possible to categorise the data in relation to the length of sentence as requested by the Deputy.

Private Security Industry Regulation

Ceisteanna (293)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

293. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide the findings of the working group established to investigate the regulation of private security personnel and enforce court orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8267/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Working Group on the proposed regulation and licensing of security personnel assisting personnel in enforcing court orders by the Private Security Authority (PSA) submitted its report to me in January, 2019. The Group examined the administrative, legislative, resource, security and other matters necessary to bring the regulation and licensing of security personnel assisting those enforcing court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority.

I am consulting with the Attorney General in relation to the report and I will make an announcement in relation to this matter in due course.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (294)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

294. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for improving Rathmullen Garda station within the Donegal division; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8276/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, there has been unprecedented investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years, in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement and provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

The allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 is €1.76 billion and very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period.

Considerable capital investment is also being made in the Garda estate. The Deputy will appreciate that 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. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

The Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious 5-year programme based on agreed Garda priorities, which continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country. It is underpinned by over €60 million in Exchequer funding and also includes a major Public Private Partnership (PPP). The clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff as well as the public interacting with them.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the programme, which is based on agreed Garda priorities, includes upgrade works for Donegal Town Garda Station in the Donegal Division, but that it does not include plans for refurbishment of Rathmullen Garda Station.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that the allocation of resources is kept under constant review, in the context of crime trends, policing priorities and operational need, to ensure optimum use of resources and provision of the best possible Garda service to the public.

Public Inquiries

Ceisteanna (295, 296)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

295. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the scoping inquiry into the death of a person (details supplied); when a full inquiry will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

296. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of actions taken since a Dáil Éireann motion was passed on the death of a person (details supplied) in June 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 295 and 296 together.

As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced that I was commissioning a scoping exercise into the circumstances surrounding the fatal road traffic incident in August 2011 in which a young man lost his life so tragically.

Since the Dáil passed a motion last summer I have been considering how best to give effect to that motion while at the same time respecting the fact that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, was still investigating certain matters arising from the same incident. In this regard I had sought the advice of the Attorney General.

At the end of January, I was notified by GSOC that their investigation has been concluded and the report and recommendations had been sent to the Garda Commissioner. The O’Farrell family received a similar notification. Following this notification, and having informed the Government of the approach I had decided to take, I appointed District Court Judge Gerard Haughton to conduct a scoping exercise and to advise me in relation to the case. Judge Haughton retired from the District Court earlier this month.

I met with members of the family of the young man referred to in the Deputy's question to inform them of the decision. I subsequently provided them with a copy of the terms of reference and invited them to give their views on those terms of reference to Judge Haughton. The terms of reference, which I have published on my Department's website, require Judge Haughton to provide me with an interim report within 8 weeks of the commencement of the scoping exercise.

I also asked Judge Haughton to contact the family at the earliest opportunity and I understand he has done that.

I am now awaiting a report from Judge Haughton following his engagement with the family and when I receive that I will be in a position to finalise the terms of reference for the scoping exercise.

I want to thank Judge Haughton for undertaking this exercise.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Question No. 298 answered with Question No. 291.

Ceisteanna (297)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

297. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of fines issued to cars parked on pavements since 2012 in each county and city council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8327/19]

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 Fixed Charge Notice statistics sought in response to your query.

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

Question No. 298 answered with Question No. 291.

Legal Aid Service Reform

Ceisteanna (299, 300)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

299. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the rationale for the recently announced changes to the legal aid terms and conditions that support debtors in appealing rejected personal insolvency arrangements; the impact the change will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8403/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

300. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether the removal of automatic entitlement to junior counsel for S115A applications will adversely impact the equality of arms between a debtor and their personal insolvency practitioner and the relevant creditor; the extent to which the legal assistance of solely a solicitor will be sufficient to engage with the counsel and senior counsel working on behalf of a creditor in the Circuit or High Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8404/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to reply to the Deputy’s Questions Nos. 299 and 300 together.

As the Deputy is aware, under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act, if creditors refuse a reasonable personal insolvency proposal by a borrower to resolve his/her mortgage arrears, the borrower’s Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) can apply to the Court for review. The Court has power to impose the proposal on creditors, if satisfied that it is fair and reasonable to all parties, thereby removing the so-called “bank veto”.

Furthermore, as the Deputy is aware, under the Abhaile Scheme, legal aid may be provided to an insolvent borrower to seek a personal insolvency review under s. 115A of the Personal Insolvency Acts, if the proposal refused by their creditors includes resolving the mortgage arrears on their home. Funding may also be provided for appeals by a borrower in s. 115A cases. A number of appeal cases have already been funded to the High Court, and a small number, to the Court of Appeal.

Where legal aid is certified under Abhaile in such cases, there is no charge to the borrower. Abhaile pays fixed fees to the personal insolvency practitioner (PIP), solicitor, junior counsel and where needed, senior counsel, representing the borrower.

The Legal Aid Board has already certified over 1,000 personal insolvency review cases for legal aid under Abhaile, and it is continuing to provide legal aid for personal insolvency reviews on this basis. I should add that in the year ending 30 June 2018, 64% of such cases were decided in favour of the borrower.

The Deputy’s questions refer to adjustments in the fees payable to professionals for Abhaile legal aid in such cases, which were notified by the Legal Aid Board at the end of January. I should clarify that there are no changes to the level of service which borrowers are expected to receive, or to the eligibility of borrowers for Abhaile support.

These are reasonable adjustments, which represent proper management of taxpayers’ money, while ensuring that the borrowers are fully legally protected.

It would be incorrect to suggest that these changes will have any negative effect on access of Abhaile clients to the necessary processes, including court processes, to get them to a solution. Nor will they adversely impact equality of arms between a borrower and their PIP, on the one hand, and an objecting creditor, on the other.

Firstly, as regards representation by counsel: a borrower will continue to be represented in s. 115A cases by a personal insolvency practitioner, a solicitor, and as needed, by junior and senior counsel.

The Board has indicated that barristers will not be approved automatically in every case. There is no other area of civil legal aid where that is the case – and it is obvious that it may not be always be necessary to approve counsel, for example, in a personal insolvency review case which is undefended.

However, the revised terms and conditions set out by the Legal Aid Board expressly indicate that in personal insolvency review cases, junior and (as needed) senior counsel will continue to be approved ‘where there are legal complexities that require the involvement of counsel’ and this is expressly explained as including where a creditor raises legal issues that need to be argued by a barrister in court. Counsel may also be approved on a case by case basis if there are exceptional circumstances, at the Board’s discretion.

Many personal insolvency review cases raise complex questions of law. I and my Department are fully aware of the nature of the cases brought and decided over the past three years. Indeed, in January this year, on the launch of the Abhaile second year Report, I specifically underlined the priority that I attach to the good work being done under Abhaile, and to ensuring that the personal insolvency review can function effectively.

More broadly, I would point out that under the changes announced by the Legal Aid Board the normal fees for a PIP or a solicitor for a defended personal insolvency court review are unchanged.

However, two reasonable changes are being introduced to the fees payable for all professionals. Firstly, the full fee will not be payable in undefended cases, where no creditor opposes the court review. Secondly, personal insolvency cases often involve parallel applications by both partners, where a couple has the same home mortgage. In practice, the vast majority of parallel applications are treated by the courts as one single case. There is no reason for taxpayers to cover two full fees in such cases, and they will be payable at a full fee for one spouse and a reduced (10%) fee for the second spouse, representing the actual extra work involved.

These are manifestly reasonable changes.

Finally, barristers’ fixed fees are being reduced, but only to bring them into line with fees payable in other areas of civil legal aid where complex legal or procedural issues also arise.

My Department and the Legal Aid Board will continue to keep this area under close review, to ensure that Abhaile borrowers continue to have the necessary level of representation before the courts in personal insolvency review cases. This reflects the Government’s commitment to supporting borrowers who are trying to resolve their home mortgage arrears in a manner which is fair and reasonable to all concerned, and to keeping people in their homes where at all possible.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (301)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

301. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to cost overruns on contracts within his Department with a value in excess of €10 million that came in more than 10% over budget in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8427/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Capital projects in the Justice Sector are undertaken, in the main, by bodies under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality rather than by the Department itself, or are managed by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the Department and its Agencies.

I can confirm that there were no capital projects completed by my Department (that is, under Vote 24) in the period in question with a value in excess of €10 million. Therefore no such cost overruns were incurred by my Department.

I have requested that relevant agencies under the remit of my Department, and operating under a separate vote structure (An Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service and Courts Service) respond directly to the Deputy.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (302)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

302. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of application for permission to remain in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8487/19]

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.

Public Procurement Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (303)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

303. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of State contracts that were not awarded to the lowest tender or bid in each year since 2011 to date in his Department or bodies under the aegis of his Department; the reason the lowest tender or bid was not chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that the information sought cannot be provided in the time allowed. As soon as the information has been collated I will write to the Deputy on the matter.

In addition I have asked that the agencies which fall under the remit of this Department respond to you directly on the question raised.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A:

I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 303 for answer on 19 February 2019, in which you requested the number of State contracts that were not awarded to the lowest tender or bid in each year since 2011 to date in my Department or bodies under the aegis of this Department; the reason the lowest tender or bid was not chosen.

As you will recall, the information you requested could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to contact you again. While I have included returns for the Irish Prison Service which is part of the Department, I have asked that the agencies which fall under the remit of this Department respond to you directly on the question raised.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Year

Description of Tender

Reason for not awarding to lowest bidder

2011

RFT for the Provision of Management, Catering, Housekeeping, General Maintenance & Security Services at State-owned accommodation centres

Tenders were evaluated under the Most Economically Advantageous Tender Model where price is only part of the assessment process. Bids were also scored on the quality of their proposal. The Successful Bidder, outscored the bidder with the lowest price on the quality of their proposal.

2011

Mountjoy B Wing

The contract award criteria was not price only. It was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). This is the aggregate of price marks and quality marks.

2012

Mountjoy B Wing

The contract award criteria was not price only. It was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). This is the aggregate of price marks and quality marks.

2012

Cork Prison Development

The contract award criteria was not price only. It was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). This is the aggregate of price marks and quality marks.

2013

Domino Developers

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) in addition to an overall higher evaluation score across the other relevant criteria

2014

nil

2015

nil

2016

Provision of a National awareness campaign as part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021 - Media Planning and Buying Advertising Services

Most economically advantageous tender according to the rigorous application of the published marking scheme for both competitions

2016

Provision of a National awareness campaign as part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021 - Strategic and Creative Advertising services

2016

RFT for the Provision of Management, Catering, Housekeeping, General Maintenance & Security Services at State-owned accommodation centres

Tenders were evaluated under the Most Economically Advantageous Tender Model where price is only part of the assessment process. Bids were also scored on the quality of their proposal. The Successful Bidder, outscored the bidder with the lowest price on the quality of their proposal

2016

Provision and operation of road safety camera network for An Garda Síochána to monitor vehicle speeds

Most economically advantageous proposal.

2017

Sharepoint Development Resources

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) in addition to an overall higher evaluation score across the other relevant criteria

2017

Business Analyst Team

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) in addition to an overall higher evaluation score across the other relevant criteria

2017

eGates Contract

The eGates project contract was awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender to bidders that met the minimum requirements. In this case, 3 bidders submitted solutions which were reviewed, and marks allocated to each. The tenderer that was given the highest overall mark was awarded the contract. The overall tender evaluation process was managed by the Office of Government Procurement.

2017

Limerick Prison

The contract award criteria was not price only. It was awarded to the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). This is the aggregate of price marks and quality marks.

2018

Deskside Support Team

Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) in addition to an overall higher evaluation score across the other relevant criteria

2019 – to date

nil

Industrial Development

Ceisteanna (304)

Michael Harty

Ceist:

304. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the status of a replacement pharmaceutical industry for a company (details supplied) in view of correspondence from the company to the community detailing the wind down of its operations by mid-2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7767/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

In November 2015, Roche Holding AG announced its regrettable decision to close its facility in Clarecastle, following a review of its worldwide manufacturing network. This review also resulted in closures at plants in other international locations.

Since that announcement was made, the IDA has worked to identify a new buyer for the facility. This has included actively promoting the site to existing clients and potential investors. However, I understand that, despite extensive efforts, no offer has been made for the site to date.

While I remain very disappointed by the closure of this facility, I welcome the continuing overseas investment in Clare, where there are 66 IDA client companies employing a total of 6,948 people. The IDA, in promoting Clare as an investment destination, markets the county as part of the Mid-West region along with Limerick and North Tipperary. The overall trend for employment in multinationals across that region is positive. The total employment in overseas companies in the Mid-West now stands at almost 19,000 people across 125 client companies.

Recent investment announcements by overseas companies reflect the potential of Clare and the surrounding area to attract high-quality FDI. The decision by Jaguar Land Rover to establish a new software engineering facility in Shannon, for example, shows that the region can attract high-tech investment and the employment opportunities associated with such projects. Beckman Coulter’s announcement that they are to expand their current facility with the addition of 70 new roles is further evidence of the area’s attractiveness to investors. Edwards Lifesciences have also established a new facility in Shannon which was officially opened last summer.

Of course, indigenous enterprise also has a critical role to play in the region. That is reflected in the Regional Action Plan for Jobs initiative (RAPJ), which is a central pillar of the Government’s ambition to create 135,000 new jobs outside of Dublin by 2020. A key objective of each of the plans is to have a further 10 to 15 per cent at work in each region by 2020, with the unemployment rate of each region within one percentage point of the national average. Since the launch of the RAPJ in 2015, there are now 18,800 more people in employment in the Mid-West and the unemployment rate is now at 7.2%.

I am confident that we will continue to build on this strong employment base – both FDI and indigenous driven – in the region and in Clare in the coming months and years.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (305)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

305. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the parts of her budget she plans to cut for the savings required to fund the overrun in the national children’s hospital; the amount her Department will contribute in 2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that the re-scheduling of capital monies to accommodate the additional costs associated with the National Children’s Hospital this year will not impact on my department’s Budget. Accordingly the capital allocation for use by my Department in 2019 is €620m as published in the 2019 Revised Estimates Volume.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Reports

Ceisteanna (306)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

306. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when she expects the report from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on motor insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8063/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is the statutory independent body responsible for the enforcement of domestic and EU competition law in the State.

Section 9(5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the Commission is independent in the performance of its functions, including carrying out investigations of alleged anti-competitive practices. As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Commission, I as the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in the matter.

Green Enterprise

Ceisteanna (307)

John Curran

Ceist:

307. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the areas in the green economy in which she plans to prioritise job creation and economic green growth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8234/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I am very much aware that climate change represents a significant challenge for our economy and society. My Department’s vision is to make Ireland the best place to succeed in business, delivering sustainable full employment and higher standards of living across all regions of the country. It incorporates climate action into policymaking, and through our supporting agencies by funding research related to climate change and assisting enterprises to reduce emissions and achieve greater energy efficiency.

In terms of enterprise policy, Enterprise 2025 Renewed, the Government’s national enterprise strategy, recognises the effects of climate change and the imperative for sustainable development. The development of the green economy presents commercial opportunities to companies across many sectors in Ireland, in addition to the desired environmental benefits. Enterprise 2025 Renewed recognises that enterprises and enterprise policy have key roles to play to support, develop and adopt innovative technologies, products and services that increase efficiencies, reduce waste and deliver sustainable development. The ambitions set out in Enterprise 2025 Renewed are given effect through supporting strategies such as Innovation 2020 as well as through the National Planning Framework which has a strong focus on the development of sustainable enterprises.

The bioeconomy and circular economy are seen as both a means to support the modernisation and strengthening of Ireland’s industrial base based on the creation of new value chains and greener, more cost-effective industrial processes, and to create a more sustainable economy based on circular production and consumption practices. The bioeconomy and circular economy present a range of potential opportunities for firms, ranging from micro-enterprises to SMEs to large firms. These potential opportunities span the economy, from food, forestry and marine, to biomaterials and biochemicals, to bioenergy and biofuels. State-owned and semi-state companies as well as social enterprises are also engaging with the opportunities presented.

The transition to a low carbon economy is a central component in Future Jobs Ireland, a new cross- Government economic framework to prepare Ireland for the challenges and opportunities ahead in terms of the transition to a digital and low carbon economy.

Future Jobs Ireland focuses on five pillars namely:

1. Increasing SME productivity;

2. Embracing innovation and technological change;

3. Enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent;

4. Increasing participation in the labour force; and

5. Transitioning to the low carbon economy.

The development and implementation of Future Jobs Ireland is being led jointly by the Department of the Taoiseach and my Department. However, Future Jobs Ireland is a whole of Government approach aiming to enhance the productivity performance of our SMEs; ensure quality and sustainable jobs; and build a resilient and innovative economy. It will ensure our enterprises and workers are well positioned to adapt to the technological and other transformational changes our economy and society will face in the years ahead.

The work so far has included extensive consultation, the highlight of which was the National Summit on 22nd November last which saw over 200 participants engage with me and a number of my Ministerial colleagues, including the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Mr Richard Bruton, T.D., to help shape the Future Jobs Ireland agenda.

We know the move to a low-carbon economy will radically change important sectors of the economy, but it will also present new opportunities to those firms on the cutting edge of this transition. I recognise that we need to support our enterprises and workers in navigating the transition to a digital and low carbon economy. Through Future Jobs Ireland, we envisage the creation of a Transition Teams model to help prepare enterprises in declining sectors and workers in vulnerable job roles to take steps to secure their future.

At the same time, in order to exploit the economic and job creation opportunities presented by the transition, Future Jobs Ireland will ensure we have the right skills and the right regulatory, funding and policy environment in place to do so. Future Jobs Ireland also aims to maximise the potential of the circular and bioeconomy to promote rural economic development and growth and to drive sustainable economic development as we transition to a low carbon economy.

Government is expected to consider Future Jobs Ireland 2019 later this month with a view to launching the report at the end of February.

Finally, my Department is working closely with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in its preparation of the new All of Government Climate Plan. It will be aligned with Future Jobs Ireland 2019 and my Department’s Regional Enterprise Plans. Of particular relevance to economic green growth is the use of networks of businesses to deploy initiatives that reduce carbon emissions. Job opportunities arise in the manufacture of environmental goods, and provision of environmental services (e.g. renewable energy, efficient energy use and management) and includes employment across a wide range of other sectors including ICT, food, tourism, construction and financial services.

Trade Agreements

Ceisteanna (308)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

308. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if Ireland or the EU has a free trade agreement with the Philippines; if no trade agreement exists, the applicable duty for exports from the EU to the Philippines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8256/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

International Trade Policy is a competence of the EU Commission under the EU Treaties and defined as the Common Commercial Policy. Under this architecture the Commission makes legislative proposals and leads on international trade negotiations and the Member States approve negotiating directives (mandates) and engage with the Commission on the substance of all trade proposals through various Committees, including the Trade Policy Committee, and at Ministerial level through the Trade Council. Equally, Member States, at Council level, approve or reject the terms of Free Trade Agreements when negotiated.

In 2007, the EU began negotiating a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which The Philippines is a member. In 2009, a mutual decision was made to pause these region-to-region negotiations. The EU began to pursue FTAs with individual ASEAN countries as building blocks towards a wider region-to-region FTA.

The EU signed an FTA with Singapore in 2018; has completed negotiations with Vietnam; and aims to conclude FTA negotiations with Indonesia by the end of 2019.

Negotiations for an EU-Philippines trade and investment agreement were launched on 22nd December 2015. To date there have been two rounds of negotiations. The first round took place in Brussels in December 2015 and the recent round of talks took place in Cebu City in the Philippines in February 2017. No date has been agreed for further negotiations.

Ireland, the EU, and the Philippines are members of the World Trade Organisation. Ireland and all other EU countries export goods to the Philippines under the tariff rates and quotas determined by the Philippines which are set out in the Philippines’ schedule of commitments under the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Services are tariff-free and are traded under the General Agreement of Trade in Services (GATS).

For tariff purposes goods are divided into several thousand individual tariff lines with varying levels of custom duties applying to these tariff lines.

The Philippines, as a developing country, benefits from the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) which is a special incentive arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance. The Philippines has GSP+ status which means over 66% of EU tariff lines are suspended for exports from the Philippines to the EU.

The European Commission’s Market Access Database contains information on tariffs applying to the exports of goods from the EU to non-EU countries as well as EU tariffs on goods imported from outside the EU. The database can be consulted to identify the applicable tariff for any given product.

Information on exports can be found at http://madb.europa.eu/madb/Information on imports can be found at http://madb.europa.eu/madb/euTariffs.htm