Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (96)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

96. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of eligibility for naturalisation in the case of person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the processing of the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. Should further documentation be required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union level, and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. 

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time. 

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.

Workplace Relations Services

Ceisteanna (97, 98)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

97. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of actions taken by the WRC enforcement section on foot of the refusal by an employer to fulfil an award made to an employee after a WRC hearing or an adjudication in each of the years 2016 to 2018. [16993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

98. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the reason the WRC has decided not to take action to enforce its own findings in a case in which an employer claims they did not receive documentation regarding a hearing; if such defences by employers are routinely accepted by the WRC as a defence when an employer has lost a hearing adjudication decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16994/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 98 together.

If an Employer/Respondent fails to comply with a decision of an Adjudication Officer of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), or a decision of the Labour Court arising from an appeal of an Adjudication Officer's decision, within the prescribed time, an application may be made to the District Court in accordance with section 43 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 for an order directing the Respondent to carry out the decision. The application can be made by the following:

- The complainant concerned;

- The WRC;

- A Trade Union, with consent of the employee; or

- An excepted body of which the employee/complainant is a member.

In the case of an Adjudication Officer’s decision, the application to the District Court can be made after a period of 56 days has elapsed from the date the decision was issued to the parties. A period of 42 days must have elapsed from the date the Labour Court decision was issued to the parties before the application can be made in respect of that decision. The application must be made to a judge of the District Court in which the Respondent concerned ordinarily resides. Failure to comply with an order of the District Court is a criminal offence under section 51 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015. A person found guilty of such an offence, shall be liable on summary conviction, to a class A fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. It is open to a complainant who has received a decision from an Adjudication Officer which has not been appealed, to make an application for enforcement of this decision in the District Court.

The WRC has discretion, having regard to resources, capacity available, cost and the circumstances of a case, to accept a request to make an application to the District Court on behalf of the complainant for an order directing the Respondent to comply with the decision. In exercising that discretion, the WRC has regard to the matters set out in the Criteria for Enforcement contained in the Guidance Notes to the Application Form for making such requests. This is available at the following link.

https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/Complaints_Disputes/Enforcement/.

In 2016 a total of 43 decisions were enforced following an application by the WRC to the District Court with 85 and 66 completed in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

In the case the Deputy has referred to, the Complainant, when completing the initial complaint application form, had not correctly identified the legal entity they were raising the complaint against. This is a very important requirement and the necessity to do so is emphasised in the complaint form. Complainants are instructed to check details on the Companies Registration website before completing the complaint form.

The case was referred to the Legal Proceedings Committee of the WRC for a decision as to the appropriateness of seeking an order in the District Court. In the circumstances, obtaining an enforcement order was not possible.

Industrial Relations

Ceisteanna (99)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

99. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to grant access to An Garda Síochána and other representative groups in the Defence Forces or those that represent retired employees access to the industrial relations machinery of the State under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2018 was published on 20 July 2018.  The purpose of this Bill is to facilitate access by An Garda Síochána to the services of the WRC and Labour Court by amending the definitions to capture members of the Garda Síochána as 'workers' and the Garda Commissioner as 'employer' for the purposes of section 23 of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 1990. This Bill is expected to shortly commence Committee Stage in the Dáil.

Any decision to seek access to the services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the Labour Court by the Defence Forces is a matter for the Minister for Defence.

Access to the industrial relations machinery of the State is governed by the definition of “worker” in Section 23 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990, which provides, inter alia, that a “worker” means any person aged 15 years or more who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer.

In addition, Section 3 of the Industrial Relations Act 1946 provides that a dispute between a worker and an employer only arises if it is connected with the employment, non-employment or the terms of the employment or with the conditions of employment of any person.

Where a person is retired they cannot have a dispute concerning their employment or non-employment.  However, a matter which arose prior to an individual’s retirement and which was referred to the Workplace Relations Commission or Labour Court prior to the individual’s retirement can be investigated.

Access for individual former employees to the industrial relations machinery of the State under the Industrial Relations Acts, where they have not referred their claim prior to their retirement, was extended by the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2015.  This was done by means of an amendment to Section 26 of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.  Such access is limited to 6 months from the date employment ceased. This may be extended to a further 6 months if reasonable cause is shown.

IDA Ireland

Ceisteanna (100)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

100. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when the new advance factory locations for inward investment will be announced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The IDA's €150m Regional Property Programme (RPP) is designed to provide property solutions for overseas companies considering investing or expanding in Ireland. As part of Budget 2019, I announced an additional €10 million in funding for the RPP. These increased resources will enable the IDA to develop new buildings as part of the next phase of the Programme in Dundalk, Monaghan, Athlone, Waterford, Limerick, Galway and Sligo. 

As the IDA's record 2018 results demonstrated, significant progress has been made in terms of generating new foreign direct investment-driven employment opportunities outside of Dublin. In fact, 58% of all IDA client-supported employment is now located outside the capital. I am confident that the next phase of the RPP will help us increase that percentage even further in the years ahead.

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (101)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

101. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will consider changes to the work permit system to allow healthcare assistants and other categories of healthcare professionals to be recruited abroad and to be treated more favourably by the work permit rules in view of the shortage of qualified personnel here as highlighted by the nursing home operators; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17085/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The State's general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of the State and other EEA states.  Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State and EEA, the employment permits system offers a conduit into the Irish labour market for non-EEA nationals with in-demand skills and is operated as a vacancy led system.  

The system is managed through the operation of the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List (previously known as the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List), for the purposes of granting an employment permit.  The Lists are subject to twice-yearly review which is predicated on a formalised and evidence-based process and involves consideration of the research undertaken by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (Solas), the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), the National Skills Council, and input by relevant Government Departments in addition to the public consultation phase.  Submissions to the review process are also considered by the Economic Migration Policy Interdepartmental Group chaired by DBEI and which includes the Department of Health.  

In order to have an occupation considered for adding to or removing from the Occupations Lists, there would need to be a clear demonstration that recruitment difficulties are solely due to shortages across the EEA and not to other factors such as salary and/or employment conditions.  Organisations in the sector would need to provide the necessary evidence to substantiate their claims.

Healthcare assistants are currently on the Ineligible Occupations List.  Following completion of the most recent review, the role of Healthcare Assistant was not proposed for amendment at this time.    The views of the lead policy Government Department for the sector, in this case, the Department of Health, are an important part of the decision-making process.  Officials of that Department have advised the sector of the need for further evidence, demonstrating genuine efforts to recruit across the EEA. In particular the sector needs to engage with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social protection who have responsibility for EURES the (European Employment Services), and who are well positioned to help sectors to recruit from within the EEA. 

The next review process to consider changes to the lists of occupations is scheduled to commence with a new public consultation phase over the next few weeks with any changes proposed based on the evidence considered, for implementation soon after.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (102)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

102. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the State contracts awarded to a company (details supplied) over the past seven years; and the contracts delivered according to the original contract. [17107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department has not awarded any contracts to the company in question in the past seven years.

Business Regulation

Ceisteanna (103, 104)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

103. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on requiring large accountancy firms to separate audit functions from non-audit business further to a parliamentary report in the UK. [17145/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

104. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on audit proposals (details supplied) as proposed in the UK. [17146/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.

I understand that the Deputy is referring to a UK Parliamentary Committee Report on the Future of Audit.  It would be inappropriate for me to comment on a Report concerning activities in another jurisdiction.

Competition Law

Ceisteanna (105)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

105. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the EU and domestic regime pertaining to competition policy; and the sanctions available to the national regulator for breaches of competition law. [17147/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) was established on 31 October 2014 under section 9 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, following the amalgamation of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency. One of the CCPC’s principal statutory functions as a competent authority is to investigate suspected breaches of EU and Irish competition law (i.e. Article 101 and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“TFEU”), and section 4 and section 5 of the Competition Act 2002, as amended, (the “Competition Act 2002”), respectively).  ComReg was empowered as a competent authority for competition law under the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007, specifically in relation to the electronic communications sector.

At the conclusion of an investigation into a suspected breach of Irish or EU competition law, the competent authority may form the view that an infringement of either section 4 or section 5 of the Competition Act 2002 (and/or Article 101 or Article 102 TFEU) has occurred. It may then decide to initiate civil or criminal proceedings in the courts against the undertaking(s) and individuals (including company directors and managers) involved. In Irish law, the power to impose financial sanctions for breaches of competition law is reserved exclusively to the criminal courts.

Section 14A of the Competition Act 2002 sets out the two possible civil sanctions available. The competent authority may seek a declaration of illegality (i.e. a court ruling that a particular arrangement or behaviour is unlawful) and/or an injunction (i.e. a court ruling requiring a particular arrangement or behaviour to be terminated).

The Competition Act 2002 provides that all infringements of competition law are potentially criminal in nature and section 8 of the Competition Act 2002 sets out the possible criminal sanctions. If a summary criminal prosecution is brought for breach of competition law, the District Court may impose fines of up to €5,000 on the business or individual concerned and/or a prison sentence of up to 6 months on an individual. On conviction on indictment for competition law offences, the Central Criminal Court may impose fines of up to €5 million or 10% of annual turnover on a business or individual. In the case of ‘hardcore’ breaches of competition law, the Central Criminal Court can impose a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years on an individual. In addition, section 839 of the Companies Act 2014 (in conjunction with the Companies Act 2014 (Section 839) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 147 of 2016)) provides that individuals convicted on indictment for a competition law offence are automatically disqualified from acting or being appointed as a director or other officer, auditor, receiver, liquidator or examiner, or being in any way concerned in the management of a company for a period of five years after the date of conviction (or for such other period as the court may order). 

In addition to seeking the civil and criminal sanctions described above, negotiated compliance agreements can be sought by the competent authority pursuant to section 14B of the Competition Act 2002. This mechanism provides that a party under investigation may offer binding commitments or undertakings to the competent authority to allay its competition concerns and thereby bring the investigation to a close. The commitments are then made an order of the High Court, breach of which exposes the responsible party to contempt of court.

Directive (EU) 2019/1 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 14 January 2019. Known as the ECN+ Directive, it has to be transposed by 4th February 2021 and will give the competent authorities additional enforcement powers and will necessitate the introduction of non-criminal fines for breaches of EU competition law.

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (106)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if an application for a work permit will be reconsidered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17157/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Employment Permits Section of my Department inform me that the named individual applied for a General Employment Permit on 9th January 2019. On 1st April 2019, this application was refused for the following reasons:

- Failure to carry out a Labour Market Needs Test which is a requirement for this permit type as the job on offer is not listed on the Critical Skills Occupation List (previously known as Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List);

- The applicant did not provide the required Revenue documentation;

- Photograph provided was not the same size and form as a passport photograph; and

- Failure to provide a copy of a signed declaration by the prospective employer stating that it will ensure the prospective employee has access to suitable accommodation and training (including language training).

In addition to being informed of the decision to refuse this application and being provided with the reasons for this decision, the applicant was also informed that she had twenty-eight days to request a review of this decision. My officials inform me that, to-date, no such request has been received.

A refusal to grant an employment permit does not preclude an applicant from submitting another application for an employment permit. Such an application should comply with all of the legislative requirements for the particular employment permit type.

In order to assist with the application process, the Department has produced a suite of information including details on how to carry out the Labour Market Needs Test and a "Checklist document for Horticultural Workers, Meat Processing Operatives and Dairy Farm Assistants" which, if followed, should result in the granting of an employment permit.  This information can be found in the Employment Permits section of my Department’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie 

General Medical Services Scheme

Ceisteanna (107)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

107. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that patients with a medical card in an area (details supplied) are being charged for services which should be free of charge for persons with a medical card. [16983/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with "all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess." There is no provision under the GMS GP contract for persons who hold a medical card or GP visit card to be charged for medical services provided under the contract.

As this question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for it to be referred to the Health Service Executive for investigation and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospitals Car Park Charges

Ceisteanna (108)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

108. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if the promised review into car parking charges in hospitals has been completed; if national guidelines to regulate car parking fees in hospitals will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16984/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In March 2018, I requested the HSE to carry out a review of hospital car parking charges, with the aim of establishing clear national guidelines in this area.

The HSE report on Hospital Car Parking Charges has been submitted to the Department of Health and is currently under consideration in collaboration with the HSE.  The report will be published in due course.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (109)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

109. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health when a MRI scan will be carried out for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16985/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Dental Services Provision

Ceisteanna (110)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

110. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health if the reason a school (details supplied) has not been allocated a dentist for the provision of dental services for children under 16 years of age that attend the school will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16986/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

General Practitioner Services

Ceisteanna (111)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

111. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that general practitioner surgeries in counties Sligo and Leitrim have put up signs stating blood tests are taking one month to process due to staff shortages (details supplied) in Sligo University Hospital; the way in which he plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16988/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly.

Patient Safety

Ceisteanna (112)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

112. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the status of a further external review of the case of a person (details supplied). [16992/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, I am concerned about this incident and remain committed to conducting an external and independent review, so that I can be assured that any patient safety risks are identified and addressed, and that any learnings are disseminated across the health service so that such an event can be avoided in the future

My Department is continuing to engage with the relevant parties to ensure that a further review now takes place. These engagements have been positive and productive, and it is my expectation that this matter will be further progressed in the near future.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage

Ceisteanna (113)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

113. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if he will establish a registry for persons suffering from fibromyalgia; if fibromyalgia can be added to the long term illness list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The LTI Scheme was established under Section 59(3) of the Health Act 1970 (as amended).

The conditions covered by the LTI are: acute leukaemia; mental handicap; cerebral palsy; mental illness (in a person under 16); cystic fibrosis; multiple sclerosis; diabetes insipidus; muscular dystrophies; diabetes mellitus; parkinsonism; epilepsy; phenylketonuria; haemophilia; spina bifida; hydrocephalus; and conditions arising from the use of thalidomide. Under the LTI Scheme, patients receive drugs, medicines, and medical and surgical appliances directly related to the treatment of their illness, free of charge.

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Scheme at this time. However, I wish to inform the Deputy that it is proposed that the LTI Scheme would be included as part of a review of the basis for existing hospital and medication charges, to be carried out under commitments given in the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

The establishment of a Registry of patients suffering from fibromyalgia is a service matter and as such this PQ has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (114)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

114. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the further length of time a person (details supplied) must wait for treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (115)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

115. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an operation for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.