I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, INIS, of my Department that on 5 March 2019 the Garda National Immigration Bureau conducted searches of ten residential properties in the Lucan and north inner city areas as part of an ongoing investigation into immigration fraud related to taxi licensing. Officials from the Garda carriage office, the National Transport Authority, INIS and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are also involved in this ongoing investigation and participated in the multi-agency day of action.
This was the latest phase of an investigation entitled Operation Vantage in which GNIB has, to date, uncovered a total of 134 cases where a PSV licenceholder or PSV applicant is the subject of ongoing investigation and the immigration status of the individual is of concern. Of those cases, 64 investigations have been finalised by the GNIB and forwarded to INIS for consideration of revocation of the immigration permission of the persons concerned. Of those investigations, 55 have been examined by INIS and 25 deportation proceedings have commenced to date. Several arrests have been made and a number of persons have been or are in the process of being deported.
I am advised that as a result of the searches conducted on 5 March a further 15 people have been identified for investigation where marriages of convenience and fraud are suspected. Seven people were found to be in the State without immigration permission and are now subject to immigration controls. The immigration status of these persons is being reviewed by INIS. In addition, I am advised that a number of PSV licences are now being considered for revocation and that following last week's operation a number of taxi plates and vehicle permissions have been seized.
Transport for Ireland operates a mobile phone app devised by the National Transport Authority which enables the public to check that a vehicle or person is registered and to report irregularities, acting as an assurance to users of taxi services. I encourage people to use the app, which is free of charge.