Garda Youth Diversion Projects

Ceisteanna (209)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

209. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he can intervene to ensure that children at risk are protected from being forced into crime or prostitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7074/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

 The Deputy will appreciate that crime prevention and investigation, including in relation to the involvement of children in crime or prostitution, are matters for An Garda Síochána in the first instance.

However, an important initiative funded by my Department, known as the "Greentown” project, is examining the influence of criminal networks on children in Ireland. The initiative is being led by the REPPP Project, (Research Evidence into Policy, Programmes and Practice), at the School of Law in the University of Limerick (UL). The REPPP project is a strategic research partnership with UL which is supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and also by my own Department.

In the absence of international models of intervention that could be readily deployed, the original Greentown report (December 2016) recommended the design of a programme to include interventions with children and their families to help them withstand the influence of criminal networks. This new “Greentown Programme” has been designed with the input of leading international expertise on crime and criminal networks, together with Irish scientific, policy and practice expertise in child protection and welfare, drugs and community development.

I understand that it is intended to commence a trial of the Greentown Programme approach, on a pilot basis, during 2019.

More generally, my Department provides funding through the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) to support the operation of 106 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs). These projects are community based multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime/anti-social behaviour.  

For 2019, IYJS has a renewed emphasis on preventative work by GYDPs, looking at the child in the context of the specific family and the specific community.  This includes family support work and working with children aged 8 to 11.

IYJS also supports established and planned pilot projects, to help develop better approaches in areas such as engagement with hard-to-reach or more challenging children, as well as family support and other preventative interventions.

A range of relevant legislative provisions are already in place, including the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, which provides offences for the organisation of child prostitution and related matters. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, as well as the Children Act 2001, provide for several offences relating to the sexual exploitation of children. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act, 2008 (as amended), outlaws the trafficking of children for criminal exploitation, and applies to exploitation both within and outside the State. The sanctions for these crimes include, potentially, imprisonment of up to a life sentence for the most serious instances.

Finally, there are also offences in relation to adults who use or force a child to commit a crime, in particular Section 7 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1997, as well as offences where a child is used for begging in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2011 and the Children Act 2001.

Courts Service Data

Ceisteanna (210)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

210. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 5 March 2019, if the value of the fines imposed by the court as requested will be provided; if no fines were imposed, the sanctions given to the eight disqualified drivers for not surrendering their licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12031/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy was informed in the previous Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 5 March 2019, the Courts Service has indicated that eight people were summoned to Court for failing to surrender their driving licences and in relation to these summonses, no convictions are recorded.

The orders made by the Court in these cases are set out as follows:

ORDERS MADE

TOTAL

ADJOURNED

1

STRIKE OUT

1

STRIKE OUT NOT SERVED

2

TAKEN IN TO CONSIDERATION

3

WITHDRAWN

1

Departmental Consultations

Ceisteanna (211)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

211. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the result of the public consultation carried out by his Department on the impending decision regarding daylight saving time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12038/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department  ran a public consultation process on the future of the twice-yearly clock change in October and November of 2018.  The consultation comprised a public survey (which received over 16,000 responses) and general submissions from individuals and stakeholders (receiving 171 responses).  In addition, the Department commissioned an Amárach Research opinion poll of a sample of 1,000 respondents aligned with the national population. 

A report on the consultation exercise is being prepared and will be considered by an interdepartmental steering group for submission to Government.  Once the group has reported to Government, more details concerning the consultation process and its outcome will be published on the Department’s website.

Probate Data

Ceisteanna (212)

James Lawless

Ceist:

212. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the waiting times for the granting of probate in the Probate Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12127/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. 

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that waiting times for Grant applications in the Dublin Probate Office are currently 3 weeks for applications made by solicitors on behalf of clients and 13 to 14 weeks for personal applications.

As the Deputy will appreciate all applications for Grants in deceased persons' estates are made on foot of a number of mandatory legal documents which must be furnished by the applicants. These require detailed checking by the Dublin Probate Office to ensure that the estate of the deceased person is administered correctly and in accordance with the law. Where a person opts to apply for a Grant personally, without the assistance of a solicitor, the process requires significant extra support from the Dublin Probate Office. 

As the Deputy will be aware, the Report of the Probate Services Review Group was approved by the Courts Service Board on 23 April 2018 and made a number of recommendations in relation to improvements to business processes. The Courts Service has advised that there are ongoing improvements to the internal processes in the Dublin Probate Office which will form part of a process of continuous business improvement into the future. These changes, in addition to the allocation of additional resources, have provided significant improvement in waiting times.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (213)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

213. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí assigned to the Roscommon and Longford division and the Galway division in each of the years 2010 to 2018, in tabular form; the number of Garda stations in these divisions which have closed since 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12164/19]

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 am informed by the Commissioner that 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 resources.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,600 recruits have attested as members and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, some 18 and 41 of whom have been assigned to the Roscommon/Longford and the Galway Divisions respectively.

The Government has increased the budget by for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, which includes provision for the recruitment of up to 800 Gardaí this year.  The Commissioner has now informed me that he plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and he also intends to recruit 600 Garda Civilian Staff.  This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019. 

The Garda Commissioner has confirmed that the Government’s commitment to increase the overall strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members will be achieved by the target date of 2021. The Government fully supports the Commissioner’s management decision which is to ensure that increasing numbers of Gardaí are available for frontline duties in the prevention and detection of criminal activity.

The Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme implemented during 2012 and 2013 resulted in the closure of 39 Garda stations in 2012 and 100 Garda stations in 2013.  This included 9 stations in the Roscommon/Longford Division and 11 stations in the Galway Division. These are detailed in the table. The primary objective of the Programme was to identify opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within An Garda Síochána.

The Programme was based on a review of the Garda Station Network by Garda management which concluded in relation to certain stations, many of which were only open part-time and occupied by a single Garda, that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if those stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained.  In reaching these conclusions, Garda management reviewed all aspects of the Garda Síochána policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations.  The Programme supports the provision of a modern 21st century policing service for both urban and rural areas and allows front line Gardaí to be managed and deployed with greater mobility, greater flexibility, and in a more focused fashion, particularly with regard to various targeted police operations.  As a result of the Programme, communities have benefited from increased Garda visibility and increased patrolling hours which has enabled  An Garda Síochána to deliver an improved policing service to the public.

Garda Station Closures in 2012

Division

District

Station

Roscommon/Longford

Castlerea

Loughglynn

Roscommon/Longford

Boyle

Tarmonbarry

Roscommon/Longford

Boyle

Cootehall

Galway

Galway

Corrandulla

 

Garda Station Closures in 2013

Division

Current District

Station

Roscommon/ Longford

Roscommon

Ballyforan

Roscommon/ Longford

Roscommon

Knockcroghery

Roscommon/ Longford

Castlerea

Ballintubber

Roscommon/ Longford

Longford

Newtowncashel

Roscommon/ Longford

Granard

Ballinalee

Roscommon/ Longford

Granard

Ardagh

Galway

Galway

Kiltullagh

Galway

Loughrea

Tynagh

Galway

Loughrea

New Inn

Galway

Gort

Shanaglish

Galway

Gort

Kilchreest

Galway

Gort

Kilcolgan

Galway

Clifden

Leeane

Galway

Ballinasloe

Menlough

Galway

Tuam

Kilconly

Galway

Tuam

Ballymoe

The Garda strength of the Roscommon/Longford and the Galway Divisions from 2009 up to 31 January 2019, as provided by the Garda Commissioner, as provided by the Garda Commissioner is available on my Department’s website through the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_January_2019.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_January_2019.xlsx

The information regarding new recruits as provided by the Garda Commissioner, is available on my Department’s website through the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/008_Allocation_of_Probationer_Gardaí_by_Division_and_Station_2014_to_January_2019.xlsx/Files/008_Allocation_of_Probationer_Gardaí_by_Division_and_Station_2014_to_January_2019.xlsx

For additional and more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Ceisteanna (214)

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

214. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capacity of a centre (details supplied); if it is at full capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12190/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The facility at St. Margaret's Road, Balseskin, County Dublin is a reception centre contracted by my Department to provide initial reception services to persons entering the state and seeking international protection.

During their stay in Balseskin, protection applicants are offered health screening and are processed for PPS numbers and medical cards. The purpose of Balseskin is to provide a short orientation period before residents are accommodated in centres around the country.

The current contracted capacity at Balseskin is 350 persons and the current occupancy is 289 persons.

Balseskin plays a pivotal role in the process as it allows the delivery of necessary supports and services to persons newly arrived in the state. The issuing of PPS numbers and medical cards allows persons seeking international protection to access direct provision allowances and medical supports once accommodated in a centre.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (215)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

215. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of legislation to tackle the ongoing issue of scrambler and quad bikes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12234/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I would like to thank the Deputy for his continued interest in this important public order issue.  Legal advices were sought from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in November 2018 in order to identify feasible next steps in response to this public safety concern.  These advices were discussed with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) in January.

My Department has also consulted with An Garda Síochána in relation to the enforcement challenges associated with the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes. I am aware that Gardaí have experienced serious difficulties from an enforcement perspective when attempting to apprehend persons engaging in this dangerous and anti-social behaviour. Interception poses significant risks, not only to the drivers and passengers of these vehicles, but also to members of the public and local Gardaí in affected communities. Most recently, my officials have sought formal views from An Garda Síochána concerning the OAG’s legal advice from an enforcement and prosecution perspective.

I have asked my officials, as a matter of priority, to convene a cross-agency meeting comprising DTTAS, An Garda Síochána and Advisory Counsel in order to agree specific measures to deal with the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes. This meeting is scheduled to take place this Friday, 15 March, and I will be happy to update this House further following this meeting.

In terms of current legislation available to Gardaí in the context of the matter referred to by the Deputy, DTTAS has highlighted the following key legislative provisions:

- Scramblers and quad bikes are mechanically propelled vehicles (MPVs), as defined by section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (as amended). Under road traffic legislation, users of MPVs in a public place must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence, and must also wear a helmet, with severe penalties (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) in the event of non-compliance with these requirements.

- Section 20 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 provides that Gardaí can perform an examination of roadworthiness of any vehicle being used in a public place. Failure to comply with specific standards (for example, in relation to brakes and other essential matters) means that a MPV is not considered suitable for use in a public place as defined in road traffic legislation.

- Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 makes it an offence to supply a mechanically propelled vehicle to a person under 16 years of age. The supply of such vehicles includes a gift or a loan. Section 41 of the Road Traffic Act 1994 provides for the detention of vehicles by An Garda Síochána for driving without a driving licence, insurance or motor tax.

- An Garda Síochána also has recourse to a range of public order provisions, including section 13 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 (i.e. offence of endangerment).  

I am further informed that the use of quad bikes and scramblers in certain public parks and open spaces is strictly prohibited by the local authorities under the Parks and Open Spaces Bye-Laws 2011.

Insofar as national parks are concerned, my colleague, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has legislative powers to prohibit the unauthorised use of off-road vehicles.

Student Visas Data

Ceisteanna (216)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

216. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in considering applications under the special scheme for non-EEA nationals who held a student permission during the period 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2010; and when the remaining applicants can expect a decision. [12246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the Special Scheme for Students closed to new applications on 20 January, 2019.  INIS received approximately 3,100 applications comprising former students and their family members.  To date, INIS has made a decision in approximately 560 cases. 

The Deputy will appreciate that it is necessary to process such applications in compliance with legal requirements and in accordance with the Scheme criteria.  While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the overall volume of applications and the complexity of individual cases.

INIS has already taken a number of measures to address this cohort of complex cases including the introduction of an on-line application facility for the Scheme to make it as streamlined as possible for applicants.  The resources available for these activities, which includes the provision of overtime, and the accompanying operational and organisational structures, are kept under ongoing review to ensure that applications are processed as efficiently as possible.

Immigrant Investor Programme Data

Ceisteanna (217)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

217. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the qualification criteria for the immigrant investment programme; the turnaround time and number of applications for participation in the programme which were determined and given approval or refusal within periods (details supplied) in each year since the programme was introduced; the number of staff exclusively dedicated to assessment and decision making in respect of the applications; the Civil Service grade of such persons; the specialist professional expertise and qualifications they hold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) was introduced by the Government in April 2012 to encourage inward investment for the creation of business and employment opportunities in the State.

The IIP provides non-EEA nationals with a number of options to invest in Ireland, and successful applicants are granted a permission to reside in Ireland for a fixed period. Applicants must be high net worth individuals with a personal wealth of at least €2 million. An investment of €1 million in projects must be made for a minimum of three years, which may be renewable following a review. 

In common with the operating model found across member states; programmes such as the IIP are first and foremost an Immigration matter.  The Immigrant Investor Unit of my Department has eight staff members, comprising of a Principal Officer (who also performs other duties), Assistant Principal Officer,  1.5 Higher Executive Officers, 2 Executive Officers and 3 Clerical Officers.  Additionally, this unit has recourse to additional resources from within the Division to support peak processing.  The composition of the team is multidisciplinary including experienced immigration officials and staff members with a background in finance

It is important to note that applications are assessed by an Evaluation Committee, composed of senior civil and public servants from relevant Irish Government Departments and Irish State Agencies involved in enterprise development in Ireland.  Applications are assessed on the basis of the profile of the applicant, the commercial viability of the project, employment outcomes associated with the proposed investment and the overall benefit to the Irish State. The Evaluation Committee makes recommendations to me on those applications that it decides should be accepted and approved under the Programme.

I am advised that statistics are not compiled in such a way as to provide the specific information requested by the Deputy in respect of time periods. The following table provides details of the outcome of applications processed since the introduction of the programme.

Year

 Approved

Refused

Withdrawn

 2012

 5

 0

0

 2013

 15

 0

0

 2014

 30

 2

1

 2015

 65

 0

1

 2016

 272

 53

0

 2017

 294

 8

1

 2018

 45

 3

15

It should be noted that a total of 420 applications were received in 2018 of which 357 are  currently being processed.  A decision on a significant number these applications is expected in the coming weeks once processing has been completed.

A major external review of the IIP is underway and a tender process will be launched shortly to select a suitable candidate to undertake an independent evaluation. It is expected that the review will be concluded in the second half of 2019.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Ceisteanna (218)

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

218. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase the capacity of a centre (details supplied) to accommodate additional asylum seekers and their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The facility at St. Margaret's Road, Balseskin, County Dublin is a reception centre contracted by my Department to provide initial reception services to persons entering the state and seeking international protection.

During their stay in Balseskin, protection applicants are offered health screening and are processed for PPS numbers and medical cards. The purpose of Balseskin is to provide a short orientation period before residents are accommodated in centres around the country.

The current contracted capacity at Balseskin is 350 persons and the current occupancy is 289 persons.

Balseskin plays a pivotal role in the direct provision process as it allows for the delivery of necessary supports and services to persons newly arrived in the state. The issuing of PPS numbers and medical cards allows those seeking international protection in Ireland to access direct provision allowances and medical supports once accommodated in a centre.

The Reception and Integration Agency is in negotiations with the contractor for Balseskin about upgrading the site to meet the increasing demands for services. This upgrade will include the construction of a modern medical centre located away from the accommodation blocks and will enable HSE staff to deliver a quality health service to residents. As part of the upgrade works, a new accommodation block will be constructed on the site of the existing medical block which will provide an additional 137 bed spaces. The additional capacity is necessary to respond to the increased number of persons claiming international protection.

It is worth noting, however, that while the current capacity is 350 persons, Balseskin has had a higher capacity previously and from 2001 to 2003, it was contracted to provide 423 bedspaces.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (219)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

219. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the tendering process for direct provision services within 40 km of Newbridge, County Kildare, has concluded; if so, the details of the successful bidders; if not, when it will conclude; when the successful bidders will be announced; and the effect the outcome of the process will have for the future of a direct provision centre (details supplied) after June 2019. [12330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Following the completion of the assessment of tenders received following a public procurement process, the Department of Justice & Equality has formed a framework for centres within a 40km radius of Newbridge to provide accommodation and ancillary services for persons seeking protection through the international protection process.

Four bids were submitted and placed on the framework for 40 km of Newbridge.  These bids are as follows:

Bidder

Location

Proposed Capacity

Fazyard Ltd

The Montague Hotel, Emo, Co. Laois

202

Oscar Dawn Ltd.

Hazel Hotel, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare

143

Fazyard Ltd

The Towers, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

250

Peachport Ltd.

The Eyrepowell, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

125

The Department has commenced the drawdown process in respect of those placed on the frameworks. Bidders must commence a mobilisation period to carry out all works required to deliver on their proposals. It is a condition of the tender that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms.

Contracts will be commenced on completion of the mobilisation works. Contracts are for an initial 2 year period with two potential extensions of one year each.

I am pleased that the Towers Accommodation Centre has been successful in being placed on the framework and following the completion of the mobilisation works, residents will enjoy greater autonomy and independence in the centre.  The contract with the Towers Accommodation Centre, as with other centres placed on this framework, will be for a minimum of two years.  

The Department is continuing to roll out its public procurement process on a regional basis throughout the state in 2019. As with the competitions for Sligo and Newbridge, it will be a condition of the tender that that all residents will be able to cook meals of their own choice and that families will have access to designated living areas where they can carry out normal family activities outside of their bedrooms.

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (220, 221, 222)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

220. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when Strokestown Garda station, County Roscommon, can expect to return to its five permanent gardaí status. [12342/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

221. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a serving sergeant stationed at Strokestown Garda station, County Roscommon. [12343/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

222. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí stationed full-time at Strokestown Garda station, County Roscommon. [12344/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 to 222, inclusive, together.

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 am informed by the Commissioner that 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 resources.

Strokestown Garda Station forms part of the Castlerea District in the Roscommon/ Longford Division. The Garda strength of the Roscommon/Longford Division from 2009 to 31 January 2019 as provided by the Garda Commissioner is available on my Department’s website through the following links.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_January_2018.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_31_January_2018.xlsx

I am informed by the Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda Division. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly. In addition, as you will appreciate, in order to deliver an effective policing service, it is essential that Garda management have the flexibility to deploy Garda resources to meet operational policing needs and address critical issues as they arise. For this reason, the number of Gardaí available in any one Garda Station on a particular day is subject to the operational requirements of the overall Division.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,600 recruits have attested as members and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 18 of whom have been assigned to the Roscommon/Longford Division.

The Government has increased the budget by for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, which includes provision for the recruitment of up to 800 Gardaí this year.  The Commissioner has now informed me that he plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and he also intends to recruit 600 Garda Civilian Staff.  This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019. 

I believe that the injection of this large number of experienced officers into the field, along with the new recruits, will be really beneficial in terms of protecting communities. This and on-going recruitment will clearly provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible effective and responsive policing service to communities across all Garda Divisions including the Roscommon/Longford Division.

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (223)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

223. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he or his Department has met with a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department met with SEFF and participated in an event organised by them on 3 July 2018.  The event was held at Farmleigh and was an opportunity for my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to outline how the Irish Government are delivering on our commitments to implement the Legacy framework of the Stormont House Agreement.  The event was attended by survivors and family members of victims of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Crime Prevention

Ceisteanna (224)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

224. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which sufficient provision continues to be made to intercept and prevent suspected mail bombing attempts; if he is satisfied with security procedure in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Protecting the State and the people from terrorism is the highest priority for the Government. 

The expert assessment of the terrorist threat to Ireland is that, while an attack is possible, it is not considered likely. The authorities here remain nonetheless very vigilant and the level of threat is kept under constant and active review by An Garda Síochána.

The Garda Authorities supported by the Defence Forces have in place robust response and prevention capabilities and the authorities here work continually with their international counterparts to identify and manage threats.

The discovery in London and Glasgow last week of a number of suspicious postal packages containing small incendiary devices is a matter of serious concern.  I commend the emergency services there for their swift response to these threats. 

This was a reckless and cowardly attack and I condemn in the strongest possible terms the perpetrators.

Cooperation between An Garda Síochána and their counterparts in the PSNI, as well as the British Security Services and the (London) Metropolitan Police, in countering security and terrorist threats, is a priority for Ireland and continues to be excellent. They are primary partners for us in this field, especially in terms of intelligence co-operation and information exchange. 

This positive relationship at all levels should remain positive and be enhanced, where possible, even with the advent of the UK’s departure from the EU.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Ceisteanna (225)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

225. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the Criminal Assets Bureau continues to pursue organised crime activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12376/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a multi-agency statutory body established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996. The Bureau’s remit is to target a person's assets, wherever situated, which derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct.

Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in this jurisdiction and disrupting the activities of criminal gangs through the removal of their ill-gotten gains.

The Bureau is widely regarded, both nationally and internationally, as a best practice model in the context of combating organised crime. The structure and powers of the Bureau have also been modelled by other jurisdictions as a template for countering those seeking to benefit from the proceeds of crime.

The Bureau works closely with Gardaí and all law enforcement agencies at national and international levels and continues to focus its efforts on targeting assets deriving from all types of criminal conduct.

The Criminal Assets Bureau continues to relentlessly pursue the illicit proceeds of organised crime activity, and to disrupt criminal enterprises and deprive criminals of the benefits of their ill-gotten gains. In doing so, the actions of the Bureau sends a strong message to criminals and to local communities that profiting from crime will not be tolerated.

Reflecting the Government's commitment to ensure that the Bureau is adequately resourced, the CAB’s staffing and budgetary allocation has increased significantly in recent years. Since 2016, the Bureau's staffing resources have increased from 71 to 89, while its budgetary allocation has gone up from €7.042 million in 2016 to €8.648m in 2018.

I am informed that the increased resources of the CAB have given rise to substantially increased levels of Bureau activity in recent years, and its successful operations have become a regular feature in media reports. In 2018, the Bureau brought 30 new Proceeds of Crime proceedings before the High Court, up from 28 in 2017 and 13 in 2016. This is the largest number of new cases ever commenced by the Bureau in a single year. Likewise, the money returned to the State as a result of CAB actions increased from €3.8 million in 2016 to €4.3 million in 2017.  I understand that provisional figures indicate that this figure is in excess of €5.6 million for 2018.

I am pleased to say that the number of asset profiles submitted to the Bureau, by the nationwide network of asset profilers, increased from 66 in 2016 to 184 in 2018, a 178 per cent increase. This increase has been driven by the increased numbers of Garda, Revenue and Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection personnel who have been trained as Asset Profilers.  There is now a national network of some 378 trained asset profilers as compared with 279 profilers at the end of 2017.

Garda Strength

Ceisteanna (226)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

226. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which Garda numbers have increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12377/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 January 2019, the total Garda strength was approximately 14,000. As of the same date, there were approximately 2,530 Garda Staff employed by An Garda Síochána undertaking a range of administrative and technical duties in the organisation.  

The Deputy will be aware An Garda Síochána is currently undertaking a programme of accelerated recruitment, as part of the Government’s commitment to achieve an overall workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, including 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.

Since the re-opening of Templemore College in September 2014,  approximately 2,600 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to duties in communities throughout the country.

This approach to continue and increase recruitment of both Gardaí and Garda Staff is very much in line with the recommendations of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland which Government approved in December. The Government also at that time published an implementation plan ‘A Policing Service for the Future’ which among its actions will include the recruitment on 600 Garda in 2019 and the redeployment of 500 Garda to visible front line duties and the recruitment of 600 Garda Staff.

These proposals will ensure a strong and visible police presence throughout the country which will maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (227)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

227. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the upgrading of Garda stations nationally is scheduled for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12379/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019.  Very significant capital investment is also being made, 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. This investment is in support of the Government’s commitment to ensure a strong and visible police presence throughout the country.

Significant 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 Station 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. The clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and to provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff as well as the public interacting with them. This work is being progressed in a planned and structured way.

For example, I am informed by the Garda authorities that works continuing under this programme in 2019 includes the new station and immigration centre at Transaer House, Dublin Airport as well as major refurbishment of Athlone Garda station. The programme includes construction of a new Garda station in Glanmire, Co. Cork and development of a new station in Bailiborough, Co. Cavan.  Other works planned for 2019 include planned remedial works in Henry Street station, Co. Limerick and Ballincollig, Co. Cork.  I am further informed that work is ongoing to progress plans for the development of Property and Evidence Management Stores at stations in Naas, Co. Kildare, Drogheda, Co. Louth and Tallaght, DMR South.

I understand that as part of the programme, the Custody Management Facilities in Carlow Garda station will be refurbished this year.  Works at a further 17 stations nationwide will also be carried out under the Cell Refurbishment Programme, under which the cells at over 80 Garda Stations have been completed to date.

I understand that a contract has recently been awarded in relation to the provision of upgraded facilities for the Garda Water Unit in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.  The refurbishment of Ashtown Gate on the Navan Road, Dublin will be completed in Q1 2019 and a modular building extension in Garda Headquarters is also nearing completion. 

In addition to the Building and Refurbishment Programme, a number of other major projects are advancing in relation to the Garda estate and will continue in 2019.

For example I understand that enabling works to refurbish Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station commenced in 2018. I am informed that the OPW is at an advanced stage in the design of the Garda facility to be located at Military Road, Dublin 8.  The Pilot Garda station Reopening Project continues to progress and I understand that the OPW expects work at all 6 stations included in that project to be complete this year.

These are some of the many works to the Garda estate now ongoing, on the basis of agreed Garda priorities. I am informed that An Garda Síochána and OPW continue to work on the remaining projects under the Garda Station Building and Refurbishment Programme, all of which are at various stages of design, development or procurement. I further understand that they seek to deal with other maintenance or minor works requirements as they arise, subject to availability of resources and overall Garda accommodation priorities.

Prisoner Data

Ceisteanna (228)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

228. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons serving long-term prison sentences for murder; the number scheduled for review or release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12380/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that 348 persons are currently serving mandatory sentences of life imprisonment for murder in Irish prisons. The 348 persons are at varying stages of their life sentences as illustrated in the table.

The Parole Board was established in April 2001, their principal function is to advise in relation to the administration of long term prison sentences, including life imprisonment.  Where a life sentenced prisoner is considered suitable for release to return to live in the community, he/she remains under the supervision of the Probation Service for the remainder of their life and can be returned to custody if they breach supervision arrangements or any of their Temporary Release conditions.

Prisoners serving life imprisonment are eligible to have their case reviewed by the Parole Board for the first time after they have served 7 years of their life sentence.  Cases are reviewed several times thereafter, depending on progress made.  The Parole Board advises in relation to the prisoner’s behaviour in custody, the degree to which the prisoner has engaged with the various therapeutic services in the prison and how best to proceed with the future administration of the prisoner’s sentence. 

I have been informed by the Parole Board that 258 persons with life sentences for murder are currently engaging with them.  Of these, 7 have being recommended for Reviewable Temporary Release on successful completion of a phased temporary release programme.

Time served in years on 31 January 2019

Number of Prisoners

40   Years+

1

35   to < 40 years

7

30   to < 35 Years

9

25   to < 30 Years

9

20   to < 25 Years

19

15   to < 20 Years

66

10   to < 15 Years

92

05   to < 10 Years

88

01   to < 5 Years

52

Less   than 1 Year

5

Total

348

The average length of sentence served in custody of those life sentence prisoners who were deemed suitable for release is 18.5 years.

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (229)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

229. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the degree to which the most modern technology is available to An Garda Síochána in the fight against crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12381/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government recognises that Gardaí must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes, and to prevent loss and harm to citizens and their property on a 24/7 basis.

The Deputy will also be aware that the key importance of ICT and digital innovation was also emphasised in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and a number of related actions are included in the Implementation Plan for that report - A Policing Service for the Future.

A total of €342 million is being invested by the Government in Garda ICT infrastructure over the period 2016 to 2021.  The Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of these resources and decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of equipment and resources, including ICT resources, are for the Commissioner in light of identified operational demands. 

I am informed by the Garda authorities that ICT is recognised as an essential tool for supporting the day-to-day operations of Garda members, staff and reserves. On an annual basis, approximately 13.5 million vehicle registrations are read by the Automated Number Plate Recognition System, 1.9 million records are exchanged electronically with the Court Services, 9.3 million PULSE searches are conducted, 19.5 million TETRA digital radio calls are made and 118,000 fingerprints are searched.

A range of ICT equipment is of course generally available, as required, to operational members on a day to day basis in support of these actions.  For example official laptops and mobile phones may be issued to senior managers and certain operational members, depending on business needs. Automated Number Plate Recognition technology is available in a number of Garda vehicles.  ICT technology is also deployed in air support units and mobile command vehicles providing on-site connectivity to Garda ICT systems and communications.

In terms of ICT systems, I am informed by the Garda authorities that a broad range of ICT projects and initiatives are being progressed to support existing systems and develop them further, with the overall goal of supporting the ongoing business requirements of An Garda Síochána in all fields and enabling them to deploy the latest, cutting-edge technologies in the fight against crime.

For example, I am informed that a number of key ICT initiatives are moving to implementation phase this year, including projects such as:

- roll out of the Rosters and Duty Management System, which will give supervisors better and faster information on the resources available to them;

- phased implementation of the Mobility project, which aims to provide operational Garda members with secure mobile access to Garda systems;

- roll out on a pilot basis of the Investigations Management System, which will standardise, digitise and support the management of all investigations arising from a  PULSE incident; and

- establishment of the remaining Regional Control Rooms, to capture emergency calls and dispatch of resources to the incident and staged deployment of a new national Computer Aided Dispatch System.

A project to enhance network access to rural Garda stations is also currently being progressed. Work on this project is well advanced and options are being explored to provide members attached to the remaining stations not yet networked with local access to Garda ICT services.  In that regard it is important to note that any member attached to a currently unconnected Garda station can access PULSE at their local district station and that members attached to non-networked locations can also contact the Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) or an associated networked station if required.

An Garda Síochána is also, in collaboration with my Department, actively progressing a number of EU ICT projects with a view to improving police co-operation, including implementation of the PRÜM initiative and the Schengen Information System.

The ongoing investment in Garda ICT underpinning these and other projects is in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

Gangland Crime

Ceisteanna (230)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

230. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he remains satisfied that adequate resources are made available to An Garda Síochána to enable it to combat gangland wars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12382/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the allocation of the very substantial resources that An Garda Síochána receives. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities.

A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime. An Garda Síochána continues to develop and implement operations and strategies to target, dismantle and disrupt organised criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methodologies. It is important to note that Gardaí, supported by the significant resources allocated to it by this Government, have made important progress in tackling the insidious threat of organised crime. The resources available to the Commissioner have reached unprecedented levels and I am pleased that Budget 2019 provides for the continuation of this with an increase of €110 million in the Garda Vote to bring total provision available in 2019 to €1.76 billion which includes up to €95 million for the payment of overtime.

The Criminal Assets Bureau was established as a national multi-disciplinary agency specialising in targeting of the proceeds of crime. The Bureau draws together the necessary expertise from a number of Departments and agencies. The Bureau has for some considerable time maintained a presence in each of the Garda Divisions through the operation of the Divisional Assets Profiler Programme. Under this Programme asset profilers are providing a criminal asset profiling service across the Garda Divisions in relation to persons or suspects operating within the area, with particular reference to those involved in serious and organised crime. The Bureau utilises the local knowledge supplied to it by the asset profilers which enables it to target the proceeds of crime in local communities. I can inform the Deputy that a number of legislative measures have been introduced to tackle gang-related and associated crime including the Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provides additional powers for Gardaí; in particular, powers to allow for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime to prevent them being disposed of.  

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. This and on-going recruitment will clearly provide significant additional policing hours throughout the country, both in terms of the increase in new Gardaí and the redeployment of Gardaí to frontline policing duties due to civilianisation of their current roles. These new resources coming on stream have allowed the Commissioner to allocate additional resources to the specialist bureaus that comprise Garda Special Crime Operations including the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

The Garda capital allocation has increased from €61 million to €92 million in 2019, a 50% increase. This will facilitate investment of around €65 million in ICT which is now an important element of the fight against organised crime.  This substantial investment will provide new and leading edge technology to support our front line Gardaí in their daily work in tackling the scourge of organised crime in our communities.  

I can assure the Deputy that I remain in close contact with the Commissioner to ensure that the necessary resources are available to An Garda Síochána to robustly confront and tackle those involved in organised criminal acts.

Prisoner Data

Ceisteanna (231)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

231. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners in various prisons nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12383/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the information requested by the Deputy in relation to number of prisoners in various prisons nationally are published daily on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie.  The information can be found in the Information Centre - under Statistics and Information - Daily Prisoner Population.