Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (89)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

89. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 197 of 26 February 2019, the exact price deviation to which he refers for the particular school building project; the reason for the overrun; and the steps being taken to ensure the cost of the project is closely monitored. [11308/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that project to which he refers has been devolved to Westmeath County Council (WCC) for delivery. 

It is in the nature of any building project that difficulties can arise.  The objective always is to deal with these as efficiently as possible to minimise delay as well as cost. However, these difficulties can lead to some additional costs by way of requests for change orders by the contractor and can arise during the construction period of any building contract. The project to which the Deputy refers is no different in that respect.  In particular, the Deputy will also recall from my response to the relevant parliamentary question that the contractor experienced a number of issues such as unforeseen ground conditions and the severe weather events of late 2017 and early 2018. These have given rise to requests for change orders. 

In addition, and as with many building contract, issues can arise that form disputes between the Design Team and the contractor.  There is nothing unusual about this and the Public Works Contract provides dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with these matters. A number of issues have arisen on the project in question and these have been referred through conciliation in accordance with the contract. I am not in a position to provide the Deputy with any further detail at this time given that this conciliation is ongoing.

I would, however, reassure the Deputy that the Department is following the procedures it has in place for cost control over the project during the construction stage. These include the provision of monthly progress reports by WCC. I can assure the Deputy that WCC has the full support of my Department in its efforts to achieve the objective of minimising costs and delays on this project without compromising the integrity of the building being delivered.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (90)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

90. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied)on special needs assisting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11319/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The recruitment and appointment of Special Needs Assistants is a matter for the individual school authority. Department's Circulars 34/ 2018 and 21/2011 and Appendix H of the Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015-2019 sets out the current minimum educational requirements for appointment as a Special Needs Assistant (SNA).

People appointed to SNA posts are required to have:

1. A FETAC level 3 major qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications, OR

2. A minimum of three grade Ds in the Junior Certificate, OR

3. Equivalent

The above are the minimum qualifications required for appointment as a SNA. The actual requirements for a post will vary depending on the specific needs of the children and the school to which the SNA is to be appointed. When recruiting an SNA school authorities must list in the advertisement any specific competencies and/ or requirements to meet the special educational needs of the pupil(s).

All standard SNA vacancies and cover SNA vacancies of 24 weeks or more must be advertised on one of the following websites as soon as practicable.

SNA vacancies may also be advertised locally as required / deemed necessary. This will enable SNAs who are being made redundant to know what SNA vacancies are available.

List of Websites:

www.educationposts.ie

www.staffroom.ie

www.educationcareers.ie

www.educatetogether.ie

www.jobsireland.ie

Any Education and Training Board websites

These Circulars can be accessed on the Department’s website at www.education.ie.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (91)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

91. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if years of service in a community college can contribute towards the increments of a teacher (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11333/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The criteria for the award of incremental credit to recognised teachers is outlined in Circulars 29/2007 and 29/2010 was agreed under the auspices of the Teacher Conciliation Council. This Council is comprised of representatives of teachers, school management, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education & Skills and is chaired by an official of the Workplace Relations Commission.

My Department has corresponded with Longford & Westmeath Education and Training Board in relation to previous applications for incremental credit made by the teacher concerned.

The position is that as the teacher’s applications failed to meet the criteria set out under the agreed schemes the applications were refused. The school the Deputy referred to is not a school recognised by my Department.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (92)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

92. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for a new site and premises for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the building project for the school in question is included in my Department's capital programme.

My Department has been working closely with Laois County Council under the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the acquisition of a site to provide permanent accommodation for Dunamaise College, Portlaoise.  Officials have also been closely engaged with officials in Laois Offaly ETB regarding the process.

A potential site option has been identified and negotiations with the landowner are at a very advanced stage.

Department officials continue to liaise with officials in Laois Offaly ETB in order to keep them appraised of the status of the site acquisition process.  Once the site acquisition process is complete the project to provide permanent accommodation for the school can be progressed into architectural planning.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (93)

John Brassil

Ceist:

93. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider multi-annual investment funding to be introduced for special schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11347/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special Schools are funded in the same manner as all recognised schools and I have no plans to change this. 

Capitation Grants are paid to all schools including those with special classes, and to Special Schools, on the basis of enrolments. Additional funding has been made available to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.

Enhanced capitation rates are payable in respect of pupils attending special schools and special classes attached to mainstream schools to assist with the extra costs associated with the running costs of classrooms with a small number of pupils operating specialist provision.

The rates vary, depending on the particular category of disability from €544 per pupil with mild general learning disability to €840 per pupil with complex special educational needs.

The ancillary services grant is intended to assist schools to provide secretarial and/or caretaking assistance.

Special schools are paid the ancillary services grant based on the number of authorised full-time teaching staff approved by the Department for the school compared to mainstream schools, which are paid based on their enrolment figures. The method of payment to special schools is in recognition that special schools generally have smaller enrolments and have a greater administrative burden due to a larger staffing including SNAs and bus escorts.

The maximum grant of €95,500 is paid on a ceiling of 16 teachers.

Funding provided for caretaking and secretarial services may be regarded as a common grant from which the Board can allocate according to its own priorities.

The NCSE is currently undertaking Policy Advice on Education Provision in Special Classes and Special Schools to examine whether placement in specialist settings brings about improved educational

outcomes and experiences, relative to their ability, for students with special educational needs. This Policy Advice is to be completed and a report submitted to the Minister no later than June 2020.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (94)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

94. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the proposed temporary location of a new primary school (details supplied); the length of time the school will be in temporary accommodation; the status of securing a permanent site for the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11349/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, my Department announced plans in April 2018 for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 16 classroom school to be established in September 2019 to serve the area referred to by the Deputy. 

My Department lodged a Planning Application to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on the 20th December 2018 to use a building (on a rental basis) on Ballymoss Road, Sandyford Business Park as the interim location for the school pending delivery of its permanent school building. My Department has received a Request for Further Information by the Local Authority which is receiving attention.

Following on from the announcement, the permanent locations for all of the schools, including this new primary school are currently being determined as part of a site identification & acquisition process. My Department are currently assessing potential site options and a decision on the final site location will be confirmed, when possible, at a later date. Due to commercial sensitivities involved in site acquisitions in general, it is not possible to comment further at this juncture. 

The school will remain in its interim accommodation pending delivery of its permanent accommodation on its permanent site.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (95)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

95. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a project brief narrative has been received from a school (details supplied) further to correspondence of 7 June 2018 on an application by a school for a three room ASD suite; if he is satisfied with the brief provided; if the project as applied for will receive further commitment; if the project will receive sanction to commence works on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11351/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is currently progressing the school project brief once this process is complete, my Department will be in contact with the school concerned with regards to advancing the project into the architectural planning process and identifying the delivery method to be used.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (96)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

96. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if resources will be increased for children with dyslexia for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11352/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department provides for a range of supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with Dyslexia, in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is a separate statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the provision of special educational needs supports to schools.  The NCSE operates within the Department's criteria in allocating such support.

All Primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources to cater for children with special educational needs, including pupils with dyslexia.  In September 2017 the Department introduced a new model to support pupils with special educational needs in our schools. All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019. DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools provide details of how the allocations are being updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.

The new model differs significantly from the old Resource Allocation Model, in that Special Education Teacher allocation is now frontloaded into schools to support children with special educational needs.  Rather than having to make individual application to the NCSE for additional supports schools can now respond to individual needs in a flexible way and pupils do not have to have a psychological assessment, or a diagnosis of a disability, in order to access Special Education Teaching. This means that those with highest level of need can access the highest level of support within the school in a timely manner.

 It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of additional teaching support to best support the needs of identified pupils, in accordance with the Department's guidance.  The teaching time afforded to each individual pupil is decided and managed by schools, taking into account each child's individual learning needs.

Guidelines for schools on the organisation, deployment and use of their special education teachers have been published on the Department’s website, at

http://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/Guidelines-for-Primary-Schools-Supporting-Pupils-with-Special-Educational-Needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.pdf.

Schools are supported in this regard by the National Educational Psychological Services. 

Funding is available to schools under the assistive technology scheme for the purchase of specialised equipment such as computers and/or software to assist children with special educational needs, including children with dyslexia. In order to qualify for equipment under the scheme, a child must have been diagnosed with a physical or communicative disability and must also have a recommendation in a professional assessment that the equipment is essential in order to allow the child to access the curriculum.  It must also be clear that the existing I.T. equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs.  Equipment may only be provided where medical and/or other professional reports outline that the degree of communicative disability is such that this equipment is essential to allow the pupil to access education and set out how the equipment will provide for this.  An assessment indicating that equipment would achieve improvement in performance is not sufficient since this could be true in the case of any child.

In order for a grant for assistive technology to be made available for a pupil diagnosed with dyslexia, the pupil must have a degree of learning disability specific to basic skills in reading, writing or mathematics which places them at or below the second percentile on suitable, standardised, norm-referenced tests. 

Schools apply to the NCSE, through their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) for such support.  SENOs make recommendations to the Department where assistive technology is required, in accordance with the criteria set out in the Department's Circular 0010/2013.  All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child’s special educational needs, using the contact details available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

Resources provided to schools also include additional training for teachers who support children with Dyslexia, through the Special Education Support Service (SESS). 

The Special Education Support Service (SESS) is part of the NCSE’s Support Service, along with the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for children who are deaf/hard of hearing and for children who are blind/visually impaired (VTSVHI).

The Support Service provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support for teachers and continuing professional development for teachers with additional training needs in the area of Dyslexia. The Support Service continues to update current CPD courses and design new CPD courses in response to the needs of teachers.

Schools can apply for CPD courses directly to the NCSE on their on-line application process at https://www.sess.ie/ncsesupport

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (97)

John Brassil

Ceist:

97. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the way in which special schools can transition students to adult day services during their final year as per the guidelines of his Department in view of the shortfall in service provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special Schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with complex special educational needs from the age of 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

Special school staff typically have extensive engagement with parents, HSE multi-disciplinary teams and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which involves planning for the child’s future, including options for further education, training, employment or other placement options subject to the child’s abilities, including the young person’s transition to adult services when they reach the age of 18 years. 

Some people with a disability, over the age of 18, and who have complex needs, may require specialised support throughout their lives.  Ongoing care and support services within the community, in a post school setting, are provided by voluntary or statutory organisations; responsibility for such care and support rests with the HSE. 

It is important to note that students who transfer to adult service settings can continue to participate in educational programmes through further adult educational programmes or in adult settings which are allocated resources towards educational provision.

The provision of Health Services, including the provision of respite and residential services, is a matter for the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.  The Deputy should address this question directly to my colleague, the Minister for Health, in relation to the availability of adult day service places.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (98)

John Brassil

Ceist:

98. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an exceptional teaching post at a school (details supplied) will be committed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11413/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is a separate independent statutory agency, is responsible through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for planning and coordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs.

Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs.

The exceptional teaching post sanctioned by the NCSE for the 2018/2019 school year in the school to which the Deputy refers is currently being reviewed by the Council and will outcome will be notified to the school.

Schools Administration

Ceisteanna (99, 100)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

99. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a policy on the practice of reduced timetables; if so, if such a policy includes direction to schools utilising reduced timetables if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child, be for the shortest duration and a clear reintegration plan is agreed from the outset; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

100. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department gathers evidence of the use of reduced timetables in mainstream primary and secondary schools; if so, the prevalence of this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11418/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 100 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the position of my Department is that all pupils who are enrolled in a school should attend school for the full day, unless exempted from doing so for exceptional circumstances, such as medical reasons.

Reduced timetables should not be used as a behavioural management technique, or as a de facto suspension or expulsion.

Where schools apply a shorter school day in relation to a child, such arrangements should only be put in place in exceptional circumstances in order to assist a pupil to return to a school, where a pupil has been experiencing an absence due to a medical or behavioural related condition.

Any such arrangement should be a transitionary arrangement, which is designed to assist the reintegration of a pupil to a school environment.

In making any such arrangements, school authorities should be mindful of the best interests of the child and of the child's right to a full day in school. Schools should seek the advice of the National Educational Psychology Service before implementing such arrangements.

I can advise the Deputy that my Department's Inspectorate has recently introduced a model of inspection of provision for children with special educational needs in post-primary schools (SEN-PP).  As part of this inspection model, inspectors will engage with schools on a range of issues including the use of reduced timetables. 

This mirrors the practice that has also been recently introduced for inspections of provision for children with special educational needs in primary schools (SEN-P) where inspectors raise the issue of numbers of children on reduced timetables.  Similarly, inspectors raise this issue when conducting DEIS evaluations. 

As the inclusion of a focus on children on reduced timetables within the inspection models is a very recent development, it is too early for an analysis of any information gathered to have taken place.  The Inspectorate intends to challenge the inappropriate use of reduced timetables in the context of the school inspection process.

Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is engaging with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and TUSLA Educational Welfare Service on the matter of reduced timetables, with a view to examining options which can be taken to address the issues raised.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (101)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

101. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the number of students placed on reduced timetables have been included in the special needs inspection model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11419/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Departments Inspectorate has recently introduced a model of inspection of provision for children with special educational needs in post-primary schools (SEN-PP).  As part of this inspection model, inspectors will engage with schools on a range of issues including the use of reduced timetables. 

This mirrors the practice that has also been recently introduced for inspections of provision for children with special educational needs in primary schools (SEN-P) where inspectors raise the issue of numbers of children on reduced timetables.  Similarly, inspectors raise this issue when conducting DEIS evaluations. 

As the inclusion of a focus on children on reduced timetables within the inspection models is a very recent development, it is too early for an analysis of any information gathered to have taken place.  The Inspectorate intends to challenge the inappropriate use of reduced timetables in the context of the school inspection process.

The position of my Department is that all pupils who are enrolled in a school should attend school for the full day, unless exempted from doing so for exceptional circumstances, such as medical reasons.

Reduced timetables should not be used as a behavioural management technique, or as a de facto suspension or expulsion.

Where schools apply a shorter school day in relation to a child, such arrangements should only be put in place in exceptional circumstances in order to assist a pupil to return to a school, where a pupil has been experiencing an absence due to a medical or behavioural related condition.

Any such arrangement should be a transitionary arrangement, which is designed to assist the reintegration of a pupil to a school environment.

In making any such arrangements, school authorities should be mindful of the best interests of the child and of the child's right to a full day in school. Schools should seek the advice of the National Educational Psychology Service before implementing such arrangements.

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is engaging with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and TUSLA Educational Welfare Service on the matter of reduced timetables, with a view to examining options which can be taken to address the issues raised.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (102)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when payment of a higher education grant will issue from SUSI in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my officials were advised by SUSI that the student in question has been awarded 100 % special rate of maintenance grant at the adjacent rate. 

 A letter advising the student of this decision was issued by the awarding authority on 19th February 2019.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (103)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

103. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for legislation allowing prisoners to be repatriated to serve their sentences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11293/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, on foot of a number of Supreme Court judgements, it is necessary to amend legislation which facilitates the transfer of prisoners from abroad to serve their sentences here in the State. 

Last month, the Government approved a General Scheme of a Bill to amend the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 to 1997.  Following this decision, the General Scheme was forwarded to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.  The General Scheme was also sent to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for the Committee's consideration as to whether they wish to carry out pre-legislative scrutiny.  In the meantime, my Department will continue to liaise with the OPC to progress this matter so that a finalised Bill can be brought to Government and presented to the Oireachtas as soon as possible.

Criminal Prosecutions Data

Ceisteanna (104)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

104. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions of purchasers of sexual services under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 since its enactment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11314/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested the specific information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and will write directly to the Deputy on receipt of same.

Criminal Prosecutions Data

Ceisteanna (105)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

105. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions of sex workers, including brothel keeping, there has been under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 since its enactment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11315/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested the specific information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and will write directly to the Deputy on receipt of same.

Criminal Law Review

Ceisteanna (106)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

106. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 will be reviewed with a view to amending it in order to cease end of criminalisation of sex work. [11316/19]

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.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (107)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

107. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the implementation of a process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11403/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 to 1997 give effect to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons 1983.  The Deputy will also be aware that there have been a number of recent Court judgements which have implications for transferring prisoners from other States to Ireland.  These judgements raised a number of complex issues about the legislation and its administration, indicating that legislative change is required.

A further judgement in 2018 of the Court of Appeal has a bearing on those applications that were on hold as a result of the complex issues raised by the Supreme Court decision.  The outcome is that the statutory scheme provided for in the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts must be implemented, and each transfer application must be considered on its own merits under the existing legislation. All relevant applicants have been informed of this and will be further informed of any developments in their respective cases as they arise. 

My Department prepared the General Scheme of a Bill to respond to the judgements.  The General Scheme was approved by Government and has been forwarded to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.

Garda Deployment

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (108)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

108. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it is planned to allocate extra members of An Garda Síochána with competent Irish to the western division to ensure that all members allocated to duties in the Gaeltacht will be fluent in Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11438/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the manner in which the resources of the Garda Síochána are deployed is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy on receipt of same.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No 108 for answer on Thursday, 7 March 2019. At the time, I responded that I would request the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and that I would write directly to you on receipt of same.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is solely the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are 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.
A Garda Síochána is fully committed to fulfilling the organisation’s obligations under the Official Languages Act and the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Section 33 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that the Commissioner shall determine the manner in which members of An Garda Síochána are to be distributed and stationed throughout the State. In carrying out this function the section further provides that the Commissioner shall to the extent practicable ensure that members of An Garda Síochána stationed in a District that includes a Gaeltacht area are sufficiently competent in the Irish language to enable them to use it with facility in carrying out their duties.
I am informed that the Commissioner seeks to meet this obligation by providing for a specialist Irish language stream in recruitment campaigns. I was pleased to note that the current Garda Recruitment Competition which closes on Wednesday 24 April 2019, has a special Irish Language stream whereby eligible applicants who are fluent Irish speakers may opt to be considered for inclusion in a specialist Irish language stream within the overall recruitment competition run by the Public Appointments Service. Candidates appointed from the Irish Language stream are expected to provide a full range of services in Irish and are allocated to Gaeltacht areas for a period of time as determined by the Garda Commissioner.
In addition all new recruits complete a Bachelor of Arts in Policing Studies which includes Irish language modules and ensures that trainees have the opportunity to improve their level of proficiency in the language.
I am advised that a Garda HQ Directive issued in September 2018 under which Sergeants and Gardaí interested in transferring to a Gaeltacht Garda Station must now pass an Oral Irish Proficiency Assessment so as to ensure that only members of these ranks that are fluent in Irish are permitted to serve in Gaeltacht stations. The Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga has viewed the new system and is satisfied that is an appropriate system for the organisation to determine a member’s ability to serve in a Gaeltacht station. When the new system of assessment is fully implemented it is expected that a panel will be formed from which members will be assigned to Gaeltacht Garda Stations as required.
I hope that this information is of assistance.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (109)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11443/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department that insufficient details have been provided by the Deputy, and I am therefore  not in a position to answer the question as it currently stands. 

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.

Peace Commissioners Appointments

Ceisteanna (110)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

110. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the peace commissioners appointed since 1 January 2019 to date; the location of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11444/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that to date in 2019 I have appointed 10 individuals to the Office of Peace Commissioner. Their date of appointment, names and locations are outlined in the following table:

2019

Month

Date

Name 

County

Garda Sub-District

January

 

 

 

 

 

17

John Nisbet

Dublin

Ballymun

 

31

Caroline Clarke

Clare

Shannon

February

 

 

 

 

 

13

Rosemary  Conway Smith

Meath

Ashbourne

 

13

Tereasa McGuire

Mayo

Westport

 

13

Noreen Malone

Kilkenny

Mullinavat

 

13

Mark Small

Tipperary

Clonmel

 

14

Noel McGowan

Leitrim

Kinlough

 

14

Rachel Doran

Kilkenny

Kilmoganny

 

18

Aoibhinn Tormey

Dublin

Ballymun

 

18

Paul McCabe

Meath

Moynalty

Asylum Applications Data

Ceisteanna (111, 112)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

111. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons waiting more than six months for a decision on an application for international protection from an international protection officer as defined by section 30 of the International Protection Act 2015; the number of months each of these persons have been waiting for such a decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

112. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average waiting time for a decision on applications for international protection from an international protection officer as defined by section 30 of the International Protection Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 112 together.

I can inform the Deputy that new applicants arriving today at the International Protection Office (IPO), who complete their questionnaire, are now being scheduled for interview as follows: for prioritised applications, within 4 months of application; and for non-prioritised applications, within 8 to 10 months. The IPO target is to issue its recommendation within 8 weeks after the interview. This timing of the latter is dependent on the complexity of the relevant case.

With regards to the number of persons within the system and the length of time awaiting a decision, a number of factors impact on this, some of which are outside the control of the IPO. For example, there are a significant number of applicants (in the order or 2,000) who have not returned their completed questionnaire or had not provided a valid address to the IPO. This number significantly skews the figures of those longest in the system without a decision, as they are more likely to fall into that category.

Work is currently underway to further analyse this cohort of applicants both in terms of processing their cases and the impact it has on overall processing averages. The statistical aspect of this work is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. I will contact the Deputy directly once this analysis is complete.

I should also add that the IPO assumed responsibility for some 3,500 legacy cases carried over when the International Protection Act 2015 was commenced in December 2016. All cases in this category that could be progressed were contacted by the end of 2018 with a date for their interview.

I am further advised by the IPO that there were a total of 5,933 applications on hand at the end of February 2019 and that at the end of January there were some 1,011 applicants waiting to have an interview scheduled. The Deputy will appreciate that this figure changes constantly as new applicants enter the system and in that regard over 750 new applications alone have been received in 2019 to the end of February.

Insurance Fraud

Ceisteanna (113)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

113. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of formal complaints made to An Garda Síochána regarding allegations of insurance fraud in each year since 2012 to date; the number of instances in the same period in which charges have been brought in relation to insurance fraud; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11457/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance (E&PL report) was published in January 2018.  Among the recommendations contained in the report was the production of statistics by An Garda Síochána relating to insurance fraud.  I am informed that, to facilitate this, an insurance fraud category was added to the Garda PULSE system with effect from November 2018.

I am informed that this change will facilitate the production of statistics on complaints, investigations, prosecutions and convictions relating to insurance fraud.

I understand that as the data becomes available, it will be made available to the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) in order to inform discussions in relation to insurance fraud within the personal injuries area.  

The Deputy may also be interested to note that An Garda Síochána has issued revised guidelines for the reporting of allegations of fraudulent insurance claims to An Garda Síochána by insurance entities. These guidelines were drawn up and agreed between the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and Insurance Ireland, and arose from Recommendation 13 of the E&PL report. The guidelines were published in October 2018 and are available on the Garda website. I am informed that the CIWG will continue to seek updates on the practical use of the guidelines through consultation with the relevant stakeholders, in order to ensure successful application.

I have requested a report from An Garda Síochána in relation to available statistics and will contact the Deputy directly on receipt of same.