School Enrolments Data

Ceisteanna (80)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

80. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary school students nationally in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [24664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

 The enrolment figures for the years 2015-2017, as requested by the Deputy, are in the table. 2018/19 figures are not available as yet.

All first level education institutions aided by the Department of Education and Skills

All ages

2015-16

     553,380

2016-17

     558,314

2017-18

     563,459

Figures refer to pupils in DES-aided schools only, including pupils in special classes in Mainstream primary schools and pupils attending Special schools.

Third Level Scholarships

Ceisteanna (81)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

81. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a scholarship (details supplied) in the National University of Ireland, Cork, which is restricted to students of one particular religious faith; if the matter will be raised with the university; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Scholarship to which the Deputy refers is managed by the University and not by my Department.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (82)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

82. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of progress in identifying a site for a new school build (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The site identification process is ongoing for a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers.  In line with protocols for the use of State property assets, my Department has written to the Department of Defence enquiring if the Department is in a position to provide a site that could be suitable.  Due to commercial sensitivities surrounding site acquisitions in general, I cannot comment further at this point in the process, though I can assure the Deputy that my Department is making every effort to progress the matter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (83)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

83. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of a new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for this school is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b - Detailed Design, which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been obtained.

Following a legal challenge, authorisation to re-commence the pre-qualification process issued to the Design Team and school. This advert has recently closed and the Design Team is currently in the process of compiling a shortlist of contractors for tender stage. 

When the pre-qualification process for the main contract and reserved specialists contracts is complete, the project will then be progressed to tender stage.

A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (84)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

84. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide compensation to qualified teachers who have returned from working abroad and have been paid on a further education basis since their return due to not being registered with the Teaching Council through no fault of their own as a result of a backlog of applications with the Teaching Council; his views on whether teachers who have been working at a reduced salary while awaiting registration due to the backlog situation with the Teaching Council should receive arrears according to the appropriate pay scale which should have been registered or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority for registration of teachers in the State.  Section 30 of the Teaching Council Acts requires that a teacher in a recognised school be registered with the Teaching Council in order to be paid from public funds. 

Teachers are registered by the Teaching Council under the terms of Statutory Instrument 444/2016 which provides for a number of routes to registration, including primary, post primary and further education.  

Where a registered teacher is not available SI 32/2014 enables a school managerial authority to employ a person who is not registered as a teacher for up to five consecutive days. The Teaching Council advise that, for teachers qualified outside of Ireland, the assessment and registration process may typically take up to 12 weeks from receipt of all application documentation and depending on the time of year, recommending that applicants apply in advance of their planned return to or commencement of teaching in Ireland.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012). 

Department Circular 31/2011 sets out to ensure, as far as possible, that people appointed to teach are registered teachers with qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which they are employed and that unemployed teachers are offered employment in preference to those who have retired.  These measures were taken in an effort to increase employment opportunities for unemployed teachers.

An unregistered person who is not appropriately qualified and registered for the sector is paid at the unqualified rate of pay and can only be paid the qualified rate of pay for teachers from the date they are appropriately registered with the Teaching Council.

Special Educational Needs

Question No. 86 answered with Question No. 79.

Ceisteanna (85)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

85. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a report (details supplied) and its findings. [24698/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to acknowledge the important role stakeholders, like AsIAm, play in promoting education and the inclusion of children in education.

My Department Officials are studying the Report to ensure its findings and recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

Enabling children with Special Educational Needs including Autism to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for Government.

This Government is spending nearly one euro in every five of the education budget on special education – about €1.9 billion in 2019.  This includes an allocation of over €300 million towards providing additional resources specifically to support students with Autism in schools.

The work of my Department in relation to special education is informed by evidence based advice from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).  The NCSE consults extensively with stakeholders including parents, experts and organisations like AsIAm who can provide useful insights into difficulties experienced by children and families in getting an education.

The NCSE is currently developing advice for the Department on Education Provision in Special Classes and Special Schools. The Council is examining whether there are any students for whom both specialist and mainstream educational settings are currently not working and consider what might be contributing to this.

We have significantly increased the availability of special placements for children with special educational needs as well as bringing more and more children into mainstream education.

The number of ASD special classes has more than doubled in the last 5 years from 511 in 2014 to 1,196 across the country now. Provision in special schools has increased from 6,848 placements in 2011 to 7,872 this year. The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish approx. 156 new ASD special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year to meet currently identified need.

Where students are excluded from school, the Department provides home tuition as a short term measure until a more permanent solution is identified.

Circulars 0013 and 0014/2017, which introduced the model for allocating special education teachers to schools, noted the importance of educational planning. This is in the context of ensuring that the children with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support.

The NCSE Regional Support Service, which has incorporated the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behavioural Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for the Visually Impaired and Hearing Impaired, provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support for teachers and continuing professional development for teachers.

It is also enhancing the multi-disciplinary capacity of the education system through providing access to expert knowledge in areas such as autism, speech and language and challenging behaviour.

Schools are required to have policies in place for the promotion of student wellbeing, positive behaviour and an environment that is conducive to good teaching and learning.  Advice and support is available to help schools in this regard.

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) supports children with ASD, including those who may also present with Anxiety. This involves working with the teachers to build whole school capacity on working with children with special educational needs including autism and anxiety.  It also involves working with individual children who are experiencing difficulty.

There are legal provisions around the exclusion and expulsion of students and these are the responsibility of TUSLA. Fair procedures are a key requirement. Expulsion should be a last resort and reduced timetables should not be used as a behavioural management technique. 

Children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Special Educational Needs Scheme may be accommodated on existing services, be offered a Special Transport Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements or have a new service established to provide them with transport from their home to school. Children who are not eligible for school transport under the terms of this scheme may also apply for transport on a concessionary basis where suitable services are available.

The NCSE and my Department work closely together to address issues in specialised provision that arise from time in time at local levels and also to ensure that there is appropriate planning in place to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in schools within their communities. 

While the NCSE and my Department continue to encourage stakeholders to open special classes, the process under the admissions legislation will continue and may lead to interaction with education providers entering a more formal process.

Responsibility for ensuring all children have access to a suitable education is a shared responsibility.  I am confident that through the work of NCSE and the cooperation of schools we can address current difficulties.

Question No. 86 answered with Question No. 79.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (87)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

87. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason special needs assistants (details supplied) are not being given full-time posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24711/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I announced on 27 May that 792 additional SNA posts will be allocated to schools for the beginning of the 2019/20 school year, with up to 130 additional posts expected to be allocated by December 2019.

The total number of posts available for allocation for September 2019 is 15,822, increased from the current allocation of 15,030 SNA posts.

By the end of this year, there will be up to 15,950 SNAs working in our schools, an increase of over 51% since 2011.

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.

School Closures

Ceisteanna (88)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

88. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 15 of 6 March 2019, if his Department has completed its analysis of the proposal by Cavan and Monaghan ETB to close schools (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is widespread opposition at local level to the ETB proposal; his plans to ensure that the current delivery of second level school services in the west County Cavan area through the schools will continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24712/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the decision making authority for any amalgamation is the Patron/Trustees of the schools, and this is subject to the approval of my Department.

Any proposed amalgamation involves extensive negotiations at local level and must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of students, parents, teachers, local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system.  

My Department has sought further information, from the Patron of the schools referred to by the Deputy, relating to the proposed amalgamation.  I can confirm that some of the information sought has been received recently, the remaining information is awaited.

School Management

Ceisteanna (89)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

89. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 222 of 29 January 2019 and 253 of 19 February 2019, the reason a board of management member may cease to be a member of the board at the decision or discretion of the patron, which is not provided for in section 16 of the Education Act 1998 and-or in the governance manual for primary schools 2015 to 2019 in section 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24713/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015 - 2019 sets out the circumstances in which Board members may be removed or membership of a board of management shall cease.

Section 16 of the Education Act, 1998, provides that a patron may, with the consent of the Minister, for good and valid reasons stated in writing to a member of a board of management remove that member from that office, or if satisfied that the functions of a board are not being effectively discharged, dissolve that board.

As Minister I have no function within Section 16 until such time as the Patron seeks my consent under Section 16. As outlined in previous replies of 29 January and 19 February, whilst I have a statutory role as Minister regarding the removal of a member of a Board, I have no statutory role in respect of members who cease to be members of Boards for varied reasons.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (90)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

90. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the decision to deny SNA provision for a student (details supplied) will be reviewed. [24797/19]

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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with.  Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

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

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (91)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

91. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application for citizenship by persons (details supplied) received by his Department on 16 April 2019 will be expedited; if while awaiting assessment of same the passports of a spouse and minors will be returned due to the family taking a vacation in their home country on 25 June 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24619/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the passports for the minors referred to by the Deputy were returned to the applicants by registered post on 06/06/19. The passport for the spouse was returned to Citizenship Division of INIS by An Post marked "not called for" on 24/05/18. INIS resent the passport to the spouse by registered post on 11/06/19. 

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. While every effort will be made to expedite the processing of the applications, 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.

Student Visas Administration

Ceisteanna (92)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

92. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the options open to a person (details supplied) under the special scheme for students who would have met the full criteria for the 2005 to 2010 period had the person not been issued a visa in April 2019 changing the person's status and who is now being penalised due to a technicality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24632/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that applications under the Special Scheme for Students during the period 2005 to 2010 are considered against a set of published detailed criteria.  I understand that the criteria includes that applicants must not have obtained a permission to reside in this State on non-student type conditions. 

I am, however, also advised that it is open to the person concerned to seek a review of the decision no later than 20 days from the date of their decision letter.  The review must be submitted on the 'Form SSS Review' that was enclosed with the decision letter.  The completed and signed review form should be submitted to: Unit 1, Domestic Residence and Permissions Division, INIS, 13/14 Burgh Quay, D02 XK70.

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.

Crime Prevention

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (93)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

93. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional measures being utilised to tackle crime in Lusk village; and the steps being taken to ensure the safety of residents. [24642/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

To be of assistance to the Deputy, I have requested a report from the Garda authorities on this matter and I will contact her again when the report is to hand.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 93 of 13 June 2019 where the Deputy sought the information on the additional measures being utilised to tackle crime in Lusk village, and the steps being taken to ensure the safety of residents.
The Deputy will recall that I had sought the information from the Garda authorities and I undertook to contact her again when the information was to hand.
I am now advised by Garda authorities that Lusk is a sub-district of Balbriggan Garda District and Lusk Garda Station has responsibility for the policing of Lusk village. Local Garda management in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) North Division report that there are proactive patrols on a daily basis. The objective of these patrols are to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, and to engage with the local community.
Local Garda management deploys resources and maintains a Garda presence through the use of mountain bicycle patrols, regular and district detective unit patrols, beat patrols and through the performance of checkpoints in the area.
I am advised that local Garda management intends to increase a Garda presence through increased high-visibility mountain bike patrols over the summer months of 2019 throughout the Balbriggan District.
Local Gardaí are supported by national units, such as the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB), Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), the Special Detective Unit (SDU), Armed Response Unit (ARU), Emergency Response Unit (ERU), the Air Support Unit (ASU), as well as the Regional DMR Roads Policing Unit.
I hope this information is of assistance.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (94)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

94. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 will be reviewed in view of the imprisonment of two sex workers, one pregnant, for working in a shared space under the charge of brothel keeping. [24646/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will understand that I am unable to comment on individual cases being adjudicated by the Courts.

In relation to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, Part 4 of the Act provides for two new offences of paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person. The Act also removes those who offer their services as a prostitute from the existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. One purpose of these measures is to provide additional protection to persons involved in prostitution, especially vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking. This measure allows persons working in prostitution to provide information to the Gardaí on, for example, violence towards them by clients, without risking prosecution for selling sexual services.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 does not introduce a new offence of brothel-keeping. This offence has its basis in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993. The 2017 Act increased the penalty for brothel-keeping on summary conviction to a class A fine (€5,000) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both. Prior to amendment these penalties were €1,000 and 6 months, respectively. The penalty for conviction on indictment remained unchanged: a fine not exceeding £10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or to both.

These measures and others introduced by Part 4 of the 2017 Act are part of the Government efforts to target the demand for prostitution and are reinforced through awareness-raising efforts and well-publicised Garda operations. As regards decriminalising the offence of brothel-keeping, there are concerns that this could create a loophole that could be open to abuse by criminal gangs and others who wish to profit from prostitution.

In relation to a review of the 2017 Act, Part 4 of the Act specifies that, not later than 3 years after its commencement, a Report will be prepared on the number of arrests and convictions in respect of the new offences, as well as an assessment of the impact on those who provide sexual services for payment.

Once the mechanism for the review has been finalised, the Department expects that concerns such as those raised by the Deputy will be considered, along with other submissions made.

Garda Vetting

Ceisteanna (95)

James Lawless

Ceist:

95. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if one Garda vetting application can be carried between separate organisations; and if not, if a person has to complete a separate application for each organisation with which the person is involved. [24670/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. It is carried out by An Garda Síochána primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016 and is, as I am sure you will agree, a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly. My Department has no role in the processing of individual vetting applications.

Regarding sharing of vetting between organisations, vetting checks are conducted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau for each new vetting application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. This is because once there has been any significant lapse of time between one employment and another, the original vetting disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.

In addition, the Data Protection Acts require that any sensitive personal data which employers use in regard to their employees must be current, accurate and up-to-date. Importantly, the general non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the current process also helps to protect against the risk of fraud or forgery in the process.

However, the Act provides for the sharing of vetting disclosures in certain circumstances by registered organisations; a facility which is of assistance in the health and education sectors, for example, in reducing the need for multiple vetting applications. Section 12(3A) of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that two or more relevant organisations can enter into a joint written agreement in relation to the employment, contracting, permitting or placement of a person to undertake relevant work or activities, thereby providing for only one of the organisations being required to conduct vetting in respect of that person.

In general, the vetting process is working well and I understand that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda vetting at present. This efficiency has been achieved by the deployment of the e-vetting system which facilitates the on-line processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the e-vetting system is 5 working days for over 85% of applications received. Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online. Furthermore, in circumstances where there is such a sustained reduction in processing times, the issue of vetting “transferability” is largely obviated.

Prisoner Data

Ceisteanna (96, 97)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

96. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of individual prisoners that were held on 22 or 23 hour lock up for 15 or more consecutive days in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24701/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

97. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average length of time individual prisoners spent in safety observation cells and close supervision cells from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019; and the longest duration of time spent in each type of cell over the period. [24702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 97 together.

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that it has not been possible in the timeframe available to collate the information sought. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as this information has been compiled.

Prisoner Discipline

Ceisteanna (98)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

98. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of incidents of sexual violence recorded across the prison system in 2018 and to date in 2019; his views on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24703/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that it has not been possible in the timeframe available to collate the information sought. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as this information has been compiled.

Prisoner Data

Ceisteanna (99)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

99. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners sleeping on mattresses on the floor each night in all prisons during February, March, April and May 2019. [24704/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information in relation to the number of prisoners sleeping on mattresses on the floor each night in all prisons during February, March, April and May 2019 is available in the tables at the link as provided by the Irish Prison Service.

I am advised that the attached tables reflect the number of instances of prisoners sleeping on mattresses on cell floors in Castlerea, Cloverhill, Cork, the Dóch as Centre, Midlands and Limerick prisons each night during the period in question. I am further advised that in the remaining 6 prisons, no prisoner slept on the floor.

The Deputy will appreciate that prison Governors are required by law to accept all prisoners into their custody who have been committed to prison by the Courts. The Irish Prison Service therefore has no control over the numbers committed to custody at any given time.

My officials in the Irish Prison Service work closely with the Governors of affected prisons to alleviate capacity issues, by identifying prisoners who may be suitable for transfer to other prisons or prisoners who may be suitable for structured early release. Decisions in relation to temporary release are considered on a case by case basis and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made.

I can further advise the Deputy that my Department has been working closely with the Director General of the Irish Prison Service to ensure a safe working environment for staff and the safety and security of prisoners in our custody and we are taking a number of short and medium term steps to address the issue of increasing prison numbers.

I am aware that plans are advanced for the re-opening of accommodation not currently being used within the system, including the re-opening of the Training Unit which itself will provide approximately an additional 90 spaces.

In addition, an audit of existing accommodation is underway, in order to identify where additional spaces can be brought on stream with the potential to provide in excess of an additional 100 spaces.

I can also advise the Deputy that the construction of a new female prison in Limerick as well as a new wing to Limerick male prison which will provide 130 new spaces.

Statistics

Prison Service Strategies

Ceisteanna (100)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

100. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the operation of the regime management plan in the Midlands Prison; the impact of the plan on the operation of the prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24715/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that a Regime Management Plan is a management tool to optimise the delivery of structured prisoner activities when reduced staffing levels are encountered through vacancies or the increased demand on available resources including the provision of escorts to courts and hospitals. The application of a Plan ensures a safe working environment for staff and a safe environment for prisoners.

The Plan is heavily focussed on ensuring the continued delivery of structured activities to prisoners and on encouraging prisoners to engage in structured activities by prioritising the assignment of staff to these services, while continuing to prioritise security, safe custody and the safety of staff.

There are clear advantages to the implementation of a Regime Management Plan to address staff shortages and prioritise the tasks that can be delivered at prison level. It should be noted that the objective of a Plan is to direct resources at prisoners who wish to engage in constructive activities and to afford other prisoners the opportunity to avail of out of cell time for exercise and recreation. All prisons have introduced a Regime Management Plan in recent years.

The Regime Management Plan implemented in the Midlands Prison is prioritising constructive out of cell time which includes work and training, education, physical and mental health, engagement with therapeutic services, ahead of non-constructive activities which include access to exercise yards. Exercise yards and recreation areas are prioritised in the evenings and at weekends. All prisoners who wish to engage with structured activities are being interviewed with a view to creating a timetable for each which maximises attendance at structured activity and minimise time spent in cell.

Finally, I have been informed by the IPS that less than 6% of posts in the Midlands are currently vacant. This small shortfall in resources is being addressed with the ongoing recruitment of RPOs and Midlands together with other prisons in the estate are assigned Officers as they complete training.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (101)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

101. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which a review has taken place of residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24718/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State it is not the practice to comment on such applications for confidentiality reasons. The applicant or his legal representative should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

The IPO may be contacted either by email to info@ipo.gov.ie, by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. The International Protection Appeals Tribunal may be contacted either by email to info@protectionappeals.ie, by telephone at 01-4748400 (or Lo-Call 1890 201 458), or in writing to Corporate Services Division, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal, 6-7 Hanover Street East, Dublin D02 W320.

Following the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection (refugee status and subsidiary protection) and cases involving permission to remain in the State have been introduced. Such applications are now processed, as part of a single application procedure, by the International Protection Office (IPO) which has replaced the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) from that date. The staff of that Office (the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers) are independent in the performance of their protection functions.

For your information, on 27 February 2017, the Chief International Protection Officer, following consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), published a statement on the Prioritisation of Applications under the International Protection Act 2015 which is available on the website of the International Protection Office (www.ipo.gov.ie).

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (102)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24719/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme - Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP) is a programme which gives Irish citizens and persons granted international protection status in the State the opportunity to bring family members who are from one of the top ten major source countries of refugees, as determined by the UNHCR, to the State. The Programme  has an important role to play in meeting the Government's commitment under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme to admit up to 4,000 persons overall. The first call for proposals under the Programme was made last summer, and 166 people were ultimately granted permission to come to the State. To date, over 80 of those people have actually arrived in the State. A second call for proposals was issued last December, and those proposals are currently being examined.

The person concerned submitted a proposal under the IHAP, which was received on 14th January 2019. A decision issued in the case on 16th May 2019. A further letter of clarification issued to the person concerned regarding the decision on 28th May 2019.

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (103)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

103. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24720/19]

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 both a right of residency and a right to work in this State based on their parentage of an Irish child on 8 March, 2018.

I am also advised that the INIS wrote to the person concerned on 20 May, 2019 seeking additional information. I understand that the INIS will consider the application further upon receipt of a response from the individual 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. 

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (104)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

104. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected residency status and-or eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24721/19]

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 has been granted permission to remain in the State for the period to 8th August, 2021. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 9th August, 2018.

It will be open to the person concerned to apply to the Citizenship Division of my Department for a Certificate of Naturalisation when they are in a position to meet the lawful residency criteria applicable to the lodgement of such applications. Details on the criteria to be met by persons lodging such applications are available from my Department's Website at www.inis.gov.ie.

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.