Education and Training Boards

Ceisteanna (101)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

101. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a night course (details supplied) has been cancelled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22187/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has no role in relation to self-financing evening courses delivered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs).  However, officials have made enquiries about the matter and I understand from Kerry ETB have confirmed that the night classes in Art in Colaiste Gleann Lí on Mondays and Tuesday evenings have finished for the term as scheduled at the end of March and are not be due to commence again until September. The night classes are advertised in the course brochure as short-term courses that take place over an eight week period.  Kerry ETB plans to continue these night courses but intends to relocate them to a building adjoining Colaiste Gleann Lí when they recommence in September.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (102)

John Brady

Ceist:

102. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the work that has taken place in designing the new campus for a school (details supplied) on lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22188/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a major building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.

In this regard, a project manager has been appointed to initiate the master planning process of the site to explore the feasibility of whether accommodation needs of the school in question and an existing education provider could be met on the site. This process will commence shortly.

When the master planning process is completed it will provide an opportunity for further engagement with all parties.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (103)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

103. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether there are sufficient ASD classes in primary schools in Cork city and county, and in particular, the south city area such as Douglas, Carrigaline and Passage West; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22207/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary. The NCSE ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes.  It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to establish a special class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned.   In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

There are currently 246 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Cork City and County. Of these, 28 are ASD early intervention classes, 119 are primary ASD classes and 54 are post primary ASD classes.  Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie    

The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish over 175 new special classes of which approx. 165 are new ASD special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year to meet currently identified need, which will include new ASD classes in Cork county and city.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. 

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs.  Where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

As the Deputy's question relates to particular areas I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

My Department will continue to support the NCSE in opening special classes in areas where there is an identified need.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (104)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

104. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options open to parents of children with a diagnosis of autism in County Kildare in circumstances in which their nearest ASD unit is full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22216/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs.

The NCSE ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

The NCSE and my Department are actively engaging with education service providers in order to encourage them to address the shortage of places. 

A Working Group, chaired by the NCSE, has been established to put in place a new working protocol to ensure that there is effective pro-active planning and timely delivery of specialist educational places for students.

 Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish over 175 new special classes of which approx. 165 are new ASD special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year to meet currently identified need, including new classes in Co. Kildare.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces or to construct additional accommodation.  Similarly, special schools can apply to the Department for capital funding to accommodate additional placements.

Parents/Guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child, using the contact details available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

The NCSE works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child or can offer assistance where a child is out of school. The local service is delivered through the national network of Educational Welfare Officers (EWO). Contact details are available at http://www.tusla.ie/get-in-touch/education-and-welfare/.

 

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (105)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

105. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a SNA for a child (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22217/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.  

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie , in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.  

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

Student Grants Data

Ceisteanna (106)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

106. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of SUSI grants awarded in each academic year since 2011-2012 to 2018-2019; the number of students receiving an award in each rate of award per year by categorisation, for example, PLC, undergraduate and postgraduate; the number receiving the grant in terms of class of applicant, that is, dependent or independent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22233/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information is not collated in the specific format requested by the Deputy. However, the number of grant recipients categorised by PLC, undergraduate and postgraduate for the academic years 2011/12 to 2017/18 is attached. The data encompasses students in receipt of a SUSI grant and grants from the other 66 awarding authorities who have continued to process renewal applications on a transitionary basis, pending the full transfer of all grants to SUSI.

Grantholders

2011/12

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

PLC Grantholders

8,994

8,858

9,170

9,366

UG Grantholders

61,623

66,524

67,100

68627

PG Grantholders

6,027

3,869

2,695

2,558

Total Grantholders

76,644

79,251

78,965

80,551

table contd.

Grantholders

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19 Provisional

PLC Grantholders

9049

9015

8462

8400

UG Grantholders

69249

67748

66782

66000

PG Grantholders

2324

2,141

2186

2200

Total Grantholders

80622

78,904

77430

76,600

Public Sector Pensions

Ceisteanna (107)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

107. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has not received increases to their pension. [22237/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The person to whom the Deputy refers was awarded pension on retirement in 1996 by the then existing Vocational Education Committee. These functions are now the responsibility of the Longford and Westmeath Education and Training Board (ETB) and the payment of pension is administered by the Payroll Shared Service Centre (PSSC). My Department has been informed by the ETB, that the person in question is not due an increase in pension under existing policy.

Public servants who were awarded a pension on retirement pre-March 2012 had their benefits based on the pay rates that applied prior to pay rates being reduced under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation.  The application of current policy means that these pensions do not qualify for increases while their associated basic salary is higher than the corresponding basic salary in payment (to serving personnel) at the respective increase dates over the period 2018-2020.

With regard to Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) which was first introduced in 2011 as part of the financial emergency measures, from January 2019 pensions of pre-2012 retirees of a gross annual value up to €39,000 are no longer subject to PSPR.  In relation to the person in question I understand a reduction in the PSPR rates will shortly be applied to the pension in payment and back dated to 1 January 2019.  Should the person have any further queries on this matter he should contact the PSSC at 076 1002702 or PSSCPensions@pssc.gov.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (108)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

108. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new school building at a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to which he refers has been devolved for delivery to Donegal Education and Training Board (DETB).

The project is currently at Stage 2A, the pre-planning stage of the design development process. DETB is liaising closely with officials in my Department to ensure that a number of design issues that have been identified in the Stage 2A submissions for the project are addressed as quickly as possible. Approval can then be given to DETB to lodge a planning application with Donegal County Council, which can be expected to happen in September/October. Subject to any issues arising during the planning process, the project should then proceed to tender.

As part of the close liaison between the DETB and my Department an official from the Department travelled to Moville on Monday night to discuss progress on the project with the school.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (109)

James Lawless

Ceist:

109. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on the application by a school (details supplied) for additional accommodation and emergency works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers submitted an application for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to carry out works to the school building.  Additional information has been requested from the school authority in respect of this application. When this information is submitted, the request for funding will be assessed and a final decision will issue directly to the school authority thereafter.

My Department has also received an application for additional accommodation from the school referred to by the Deputy. The application is being considered and my Department has been in contact with the patron in this regard.

Immigration Policy

Ceisteanna (110)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

110. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) has an entitlement to work here or in Northern Ireland while they are awaiting their naturalisation to be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned made an application for permission to remain in this State as the spouse of an Irish national in November 2018.  Applications are considered pursuant to the Policy Document on non-EEA Family Reunification and I understand that marriage to an Irish national does not confer an automatic entitlement to residence and access to the labour market in this State pending consideration of such applications. The Deputy will appreciate that I have no role in applications for permission to reside or work in Northern Ireland (NI) as they are a matter for the relevant competent authority.

The Deputy will also appreciate that applications  for permission to reside with the right to access the labour market in this State are dealt with in chronological order.  In that regard, it is expected that INIS will write to the person concerned this month to seek additional information and documentary evidence.  I understand that the application will be considered further by INIS in light of a response from the person concerned.  

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.

Parental Leave

Ceisteanna (111)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

111. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the qualifying age of the child in respect of whom parental leave can be taken by public sector employees, including civil servants; his plans to change same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22203/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, Section 6 of the Parental Leave Act 1998 provides for unpaid parental leave for a child up to the age of eight, or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a serious illness or disability.  Once enacted and commenced, the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, will increase the qualifying age to 12 years.

I understand that generally, public servants including civil servants, may take parental leave until their child is 13 years and I can confirm that there are no plans to amend the 1998 Act to reflect this position. 

The Deputy will appreciate that the age of the child provided for in the Act is a statutory minimum, and it is at the discretion of individual employers whether they wish to extend the eligibility criteria for their employees to avail of parental leave beyond that minimum.

Parental Leave

Ceisteanna (112, 114)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

112. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of weeks of parental leave that parents working for the same employer will be able to transfer to each other following the enactment of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22204/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

114. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if correspondence from a person (details supplied) will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22136/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 114 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Parental Leave Act 1998, generally, does not provide for the transfer of parental leave between parents.

Section 6(6) of the Act provides that where two or parents are entitled to parental leave, neither of the parents shall be entitled to (a) the parental leave of any other parent, or (b) to transfer any part of the period of their parental leave to any other parent in respect of their child.

However, there is one very specific exception to this provision. Section 6(7) of the Act provides that where both parents are employed by the same employer, one parent may transfer up to 14 weeks of parental leave to the other, only if their employer consents.

These provisions will remain unchanged by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, once enacted and commenced.

In all other cases, parental leave remains non-transferable, and I can confirm that the Government has no plans to change this position.

Parental Leave

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 112.

Ceisteanna (113)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

113. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if parents will have to wait until 1 September 2019 to use 18 weeks leave which they have not yet availed of in respect of a child aged 8, 9, 10 or 11 years of age following the enactment of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017; if this unused leave can be utilised as soon as the commencement order has taken effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22231/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017,  as passed by both House of the Oireachtas, provides that parents may take any unused leave from their entitlement to parental leave under the 1998 Act, as long as their child is under the qualifying age of 12 years.

I can confirm that parents will be entitled to apply to their employers to take any unused parental leave, from their original entitlement to 18 weeks of parental leave under the 1998 Act, once the Bill is enacted and commenced. Parents will still be required to give their employer six weeks’ notice of their intention to take leave as per section 8(1) of the 1998 Act.  However under section 8(4) of the Act, employers have the discretion to waive this requirement.

As the Deputy will be aware from discussions during the progress of the Bill through the House of the Oireachtas, my officials are currently preparing a commencement order and I expect that Minister Flanagan will sign the order no later than 19 July.

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 112.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (115)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

115. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of young persons resident in direct provision aged 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 years of age, respectively in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22144/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The statistical data the Deputy requires is detailed in the following table.  These figures relate to 17 May 2019.

Age

No. of RIA Applicants

19

104

18

58

17

52

16

91

15

59

The Deputy will be aware that the Direct Provision system is a whole of Government approach to the provision of supports and other services to persons seeking international protection. These supports and services are delivered directly to persons in the protection process in the same manner as to other residents in Ireland by the relevant Government Department or Agency. For example education services are delivered through the Department of Education and Skills and health services are delivered by the Health Service Executive.

My Department, through the Reception & Integration Agency (RIA), is responsible for the provision of accommodation and related services to protection applicants while they await a decision on their claim for international protection.

The Department of Justice and Equality working together with other Departments and agencies have already introduced far-reaching and important reforms to the overall system and this process will continue as we strive to make further improvements in the future.  One of the most significant improvements being the introduction of independent living. 

Independent living allows applicants to obtain food, toiletries and other products in a specially-constructed food hall in the centre.  Applicants then cook the food at either communal or individual cooking stations. 

Independent living provides applicants with a significant degree of autonomy and prepares them for life after the protection process.  As of early April 2019, over 2,200 applicants across eight centres can avail of the independent living model.   In addition, almost 1,400 other applicants have access to other self-catering facilities with food provided by the contractor or the applicant themselves.  The Department of Justice and Equality anticipates that all of the centres under contract to it will have moved to the independent living model by mid-2020.

In addition, there have been significant improvements to recreation opportunities, such as the provision of outdoor sports pitches, including ‘all-weather’ facilities, teenagers rooms and family living rooms in centres to provide social areas for particular age groups.  Friends of the Centre groups have also been established in each centre.  This initiative aims to bring residents, community and voluntary groups together with a view to increasing integration opportunities and providing for the development of greater community linkages with the residents and the centre.

My officials continue to examine best international practice and to engage with relevant statutory and civil society stakeholders to explore options with regard to providing accommodation and supports for persons seeking international protection.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (116)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

116. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there are scenarios in which a legal process (details supplied) is automatic; if fees are always incurred in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.  All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. 

The fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011). 

The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation.  The standard certification fee is set at €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen.  In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil. 

As such, the Regulations make specific provision for particular categories of applicants who may be on a reduced level of income. There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, or based on length of residency.     

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation.  The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.

The fees charged should be viewed in the context of the significant benefits attendant to securing an Irish passport, particularly in the context of visa free travel to other jurisdictions.

Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on the INIS website at ww.inis.gov.ie.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (117)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

117. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in the Henry Street district and the Roxboro road district of Limerick by rank in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is 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.

The Garda strength of the Henry Street and Roxboro Districts from 2009 to 31 March 2019 , as provided by the Commissioner, is available on my Department’s website through the following link:

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.

Garda Resources

Ceisteanna (118)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

118. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will seek additional resources for traffic policing in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22210/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for information in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy and when it is received I will write directly to the Deputy.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (119)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

119. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an appeal in respect of a join family visa by persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22211/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the visa appeal was received in the Visa Office in Dublin on 7 January 2019.

Appeals are processed in the chronological order in which they are received.  While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the volume of appeals received, the resources available to process them and the individual complexity of the application and subsequent appeal.  Processing times may also vary where a detailed assessment of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights is required. In the circumstances, therefore, I cannot at this time give a definitive date as to when this particular appeal will be finalised.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS 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 INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Driver Safety

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (120)

Michael Harty

Ceist:

120. Deputy Michael Harty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the traffic watch lo-call number will be converted to a free call number due the cost of waiting for a reply which can place undue expense on the callers that are carrying out their civic duty in reporting dangerous driving behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22213/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the administration of the traffic watch phone line is a matter for An Garda Síochána, I have asked An Garda Síochána for a report in response to the Deputy's query.

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

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question 120 of 22 May 2019 where the Deputy asked whether the traffic watch lo-call number could be converted to a free call number because of the expense incurred by callers. The parliamentary question has been brought to the attention of An Garda Síochána.
The Traffic Watch lo-call number is generally used to report aggressive driving, driving hazards and other traffic related incidents. However, in emergency cases, i.e. danger to life or serious risk of injury, members of the public should always contact 112 or 999.
Traffic Watch is a partnership between An Garda Síochána, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the Road Safety Authority. It brings road users, An Garda Síochána, the National Roads Authority and the Road Safety Authority together in a united and sustained effort to improve safety on our roads.
The calls are answered and logged by civilian personnel at the Garda Information Services Centre in Castlebar, with incidents then being forwarded to the relevant District Officer (Superintendent) for investigation. The District Officer will appoint a member of An Garda Síochána to investigate a Traffic Watch complaint, who will contact with the complainant to establish the facts, and discuss possible action.
I understand from An Garda Síochána that thee are no plans at present to move away from a lo-call number. This is an issue which Traffic Watch may wish to examine further in the future.
I hope that this is of assistance to the Deputy.