Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (316)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

316. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a new building will be completed for a school (details supplied); the reason for the delays; and the number of labourers and tradesmen working on site. [31452/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to which he refers has been devolved to Westmeath County Council (WCC) for delivery.

The Deputy will recall from previous answers that the initial delays with the delivery of the project were due primarily to unforeseen ground and weather conditions. However, I can assure the Deputy that I consider that the delays with this project that have arisen in recent months are completely unacceptable for all concerned. In particular, I am very conscious that the school will have to continue to operate from unsatisfactory conditions with increasing enrolments until its new building is ready. 

The Deputy will also recall that a programme provided by the contractor which had indicated a completion date in July has recently been changed to provide for a completion date in October. Let me reiterate my extreme disappointment and frustrated with this development.

The contractor is responsbile for resourcing and programming the construction works in question. WCC, which is responsible for managing the contract, has expressed to the contractor directly its disappointment with the level of resources on site and the slow progress of the construction programme.

I am pleased to say that Westmeath County Council has reported to my officials that there has been a significant improvement in the activity on site in recent weeks. The project is well over 80% complete and, on that basis, I am hopeful that the project will be completed in October as is now planned.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (317)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

317. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact children diagnosed with autism must travel to Kinnegad, County Westmeath twice daily to attend school due to the delay in the completion of a school (details supplied). [31453/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved for delivery to Westmeath County Council (WCC).  

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has met and worked closely with the patron and school authorities of both schools to which he refers. Together, they have put in place contingency arrangements to ensure that the needs of the school that has had a project delayed for the coming academic year are being met.

In that context, the Deputy is also aware that the school authorities and patron for the school in Kinnegad to which he refers have kindly agreed to temporarily provide accommodation for a number of special needs pupils as an alternative to home tuition for those children. The Department will be providing the funding needed to facilitate this arrangement. I would like to express my thanks to the patron and school management of that school who have gone out of their way to provide a temporary home for these pupils.

I can assure the Deputy that I am extremely disappointed that the delays that have arisen in relation to this project in recent months have made it necessary to put these contingency arrangements in place.  I would also assure the Deputy that Westmeath County Council, to whom responsibility for delivery the project in question has been devolved, is continuing to pursue the contractor for as speedy a delivery of the project as possible. It is fully supported by my Department in that respect.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (318)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

318. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the possibility of a SNA for a child (details supplied) will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31454/19]

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 27th September 2019.

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.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (319)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

319. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number and proportion of adults in direct provision in employment. [30785/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 which I signed into effect from 30 June, 2018, includes access to the labour market for qualified international protection applicants. 

My Department provides confirmation in writing to qualified applicants of their entitlement to access the labour market, for use when they apply for a job or become self employed. It is a free, easy to use, accessible service with a very short turn around from receipt of application to the sending out of the permission letter. It is a very broad access to the workplace.

When an international protection applicant is issued with a labour market access permission under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 and takes up employment, the employer (or applicant in the case of self-employment), is obliged to inform the Minister for Justice and Equality within 21 days.  A standard form for this purpose is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department.

I am advised by INIS that, based on the returned declaration forms received to date, a total of 1,267 applicants have indicated they have commenced employment or self-employment, of which 896 are living in Direct Provision.  As the employer or applicant has 21 days from the time they take up employment or self-employment to return the declaration form, there is likely to be a time lag between the actual date of commencement of employment and INIS being notified of same.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (321, 349)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

321. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of FTE members of the Garda traffic corps or equivalent division in each of the past six years. [31185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

349. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of full-time equivalent members of the Garda traffic corps or equivalent division in each of the past six years. [31164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 321 and 349 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, have no role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution under review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure optimum use is made of the resources.

In 2017 the Commissioner established the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau (GNRPB) to ensure a consistent approach to road safety and enforcement of road traffic legislation across the country. This is achieved through coordination of enforcement and development of policy based on research and analysis of statistics and by engaging in campaigns in partnership with other State Agencies.

The Divisional Garda Traffic Corps have been re-named Garda Road Policing Units, to reflect the role the Units will play in denying criminals the use of the roads network. In addition to the Roads Policing Units focusing on the lifesaver offences of speeding, seatbelts, mobile phones and driving under the influence, they will also focus on crime prevention and crime detection. Divisional Roads Policing Units will work closely with other Divisional units to target known criminals and to disrupt their activities through strict enforcement of road traffic legislation.

The allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel is determined by a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfer applications, including welfare issues. When allocations are taking place, comprehensive consultation is carried out with Local Management during which all factors are taken into consideration. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.

The strength of the Roads Policing Units by Division, in each of the years 2009 to 31 May 2019 is available on my Department’s website through the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Roads_Policing_Unit

The overall workforce strength of An Garda Síochána is available on my Department’s website through the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

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 Data

Ceisteanna (322)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

322. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the strength of the Garda fraud unit; the strength in each of the past five years; and the number of personal injury claims defended in each year in tabular form. [31255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing An Garda Síochána including personnel matters.

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.

I have requested a report from the Commissioner in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy and I will revert to him when it is to hand.

Crime Investigation

Ceisteanna (323)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

323. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a historical investigations unit, similar to such a unit in Northern Ireland, will be created; if not, if a committee, body or independent person will be put in place to monitor the progress of State institutions here in investigating legacy issues as recommended in a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31350/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the investigation of crime is a matter for An Garda Síochána and the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the deployment of all Garda resources, including personnel.  I have no role in such matters.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that, in general terms, responsibility for the investigation of criminal offences resides in the first instance with the Superintendent of the District where the offence was committed.

The Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, under the command of the Assistant Commissioner for Special Crime Operations, holds a national investigative remit and it is specialised in the area of major crime investigation.  It undertakes and supports investigations on the direction of the Garda Commissioner.

The support provided includes using the expertise of the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT), which was established in 2007 to provide independent review of historical investigations, including homicides. The purpose of a review conducted by the SCRT is to assist the Senior Investigating Officer with the criminal investigation. Such review is an independent examination of evidence and other material, gathered during investigation and to ensure that it conforms to approved standards; that the investigation has been thorough, conducted with integrity and objectivity; and to identify further investigative opportunities.

The range of other bureaux within Special Crime Operations support major investigations at a national level depending on the category of crime under investigation.

The investigation of terrorist-related offences falls under the remit of the Special Detective Unit under the command of Assistant Commissioner, Security and Intelligence. Other services within An Garda Síochána, such as the Analysis Service or the Technical Bureau, also provide support and assistance in the investigation and review of serious crimes.

The Deputy can be assured that in circumstances where historic, troubles-related offences have not been resolved, the investigations remain open and the Garda Authorities will and do follow up fully on any new evidence or information that becomes available to them, whether that comes from the public, from other police services or from their own investigations.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (324)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

324. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a carpark will be constructed at a Garda station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31415/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019.  Very significant capital investment is also being made, including a capital allocation of €92 million this year.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.  Works in relation to Garda accommodation are progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW.

I am informed by the Garda authorities and the OPW that An Garda Síochána has made enquiries with the OPW about developing parking facilities at the Garda station referred to by the Deputy. A quotation for the work was provided to the Garda authorities by the OPW.  I am informed that the matter is under consideration by An Garda Síochána, in the context of overall Garda accommodation priorities.

Personal Injury Claims

Ceisteanna (325)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

325. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the most recent statistics on complaints and investigations relating to fraud within the personal injuries area as specified in recommendation 11 of the cost of insurance working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As I noted in response to Parliamentary Question 269 of 18 June 2019, the most recent figures provided to me by An Garda Síochána show that, in the period 1 November 2018 (please note the corrected date) to end May 2019, 50 incidents of insurance fraud were recorded on PULSE. This equates to just over seven reports per month, with 1 November 2018 being the date on which a new category for "insurance fraud" went live on PULSE. 50% of these incidents related to staged collisions.

It is important to note that the aforementioned figures refer to reports being made to An Garda Síochána in the respective timeframe. Many of the alleged incidents reported during that period are historical in nature and occurred outside of the reporting timeframe.

It is also important to note that, while all incidents come under the umbrella of the "insurance fraud" category, not all of them relate to bogus insurance claims. For example, incidents of forged 'no claims bonus' documents, while being an insurance fraud, does not necessarily relate to a bogus insurance claim. Alternatively, a report of a staged collision clearly does link to a bogus insurance claim. Such nuances should be kept in mind when analysing this data.

Finally, An Garda Síochána have stressed that the data is correct as at 6 June 2019, however as it is operational data it is, therefore, subject to change.

Family Law Cases

Ceisteanna (326)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

326. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to provide a designated support services area in the family courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30486/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I intend to publish proposals in 2019 for a new approach to handling family law cases in Ireland at District, Circuit and High Court levels. A Family Court Bill will be introduced to create a new dedicated Family Court within the existing court structures. These courts will have new procedures aimed at less adversarial resolution of disputes and will have appropriate facilities and case management arrangements.

A working group was established in 2017, comprising officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Courts Service and the Legal Aid Board, to examine the operational aspects relating to the family court and develop an overall architecture for the new family court structure. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla also participated in the working group. Key issues that arose in consultations included family court venues and facilities, resources and capital investment in family courts and integration of relevant family and child services to provide the best possible family law outcomes.

In 2018, a task force on the Family Court comprising senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Legal Aid Board and the Courts Service was formed to seek agreement on core questions of policy and costs. A representative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs has also joined the group. The work of this group is at an advanced stage. Issues being examined include court areas and locations, use of courthouses, provision of facilities and services, arrangements for management of resources, and oversight arrangements.

Work is well advanced on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill. When finalised, the General Scheme will be submitted for Government approval in the usual manner and will have to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny. The Bill will then be drafted by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.

The Family Court Bill is only one component of a new Family Court system. The provision of appropriate court facilities and services, including the designation of areas for support services, and the capital and current resources that may be required for this, will be important enablers for the operation of a new family court system.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (327)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

327. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the national standards for direct provision accommodation will be published in view of the fact that the consultation concluded in September 2018; his plans to ensure an independent inspection mechanism will be put in place in line with the McMahon report recommendation to ensure oversight and compliance with the new national standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I and my colleague Minister Charles Flanagan T.D. have recently approved new standards for direct provision accommodation centres. They were prepared by a Standards Advisory Group, established in 2017 and comprising officials from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion as well as representatives from AkiDwA, Children's Rights Alliance, the Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service, SPIRASI,  and the UNHCR. The Standards address a range of themes including accommodation provided for those people seeking the protection of the State, food and catering, individual, community and family life, health and wellbeing, governance and meeting the special reception needs of applicants.  They therefore build on the work done in the 2015 McMahon Report and meet the requirements of the Recast Reception Directive.

The standards were opened to public consultation last year which included dedicated information workshops at a number of accommodation centres.   

It is planned to publish the standards shortly. The current procurement process in respect of direct provision accommodation was designed with a view to ensuring that all direct provision accommodation will adhere to these standards, when they come into force in January 2021.

I am committed to developing a robust independent inspection process to monitor and ensure compliance with the standards following their implementation. 

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (328)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

328. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the improvement works due to be carried out at the Towers direct provision centre in advance of the new contract being signed (details supplied). [30495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department, through the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), has commenced a national procurement programme for accommodation centres for persons entering the state and seeking international protection. This will comprise a series of regional competitions through the Government's procurement website www.etenders.gov.ie .

The Department ran a tender competition for premises within 40km of Newbridge, Co. Kildare for accommodation and ancillary services. Successful bidders were required to undertake mobilisation works to provide for residents cooking facilities,  a foodhall (where residents can obtain ingredients and food items as well as toiletries and household items through a points system) and designated living space for families outside of the bedrooms.  There is a 12 week provision for the completion of the required mobilisation works. No contract will be in effect until the mobilisation works are completed and subsequently inspected and verified as complete by RIA.

The provider who is currently providing accommodation and ancillary services at the Towers Centre in Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was successful in being placed on the framework. The 12 week mobilisation period commenced on the 11th April 2019 which required all works to be complete by the 4th July 2019.  My Department has been informed recently that due to logistical reasons, the contractor was unable to commence mobilisation works. Following discussions, the contractor has agreed to commence these works and the current contract has been extended to allow this to happen.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (329)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

329. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of the Garda fleet that are rented vehicles; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30516/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources. 

I have requested the relevant information from the Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when I receive it.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (330)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

330. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the divisional breakdown of gardaí allocated to drug units in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30530/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, do not have responsibility for this matter. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of resources.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that the additional resources coming on stream have enabled him to assign resources to Specialist Bureaus such as the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.  This Bureau leads on the strategy for tackling drugs and works with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in demand reduction and supply reduction at local level.

An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve. All Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences crime or otherwise.  A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime.

 The information requested by the Deputy is as set out in the following link:

Drugs Unit by Division ’08-18

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.

Cyber Security Protocols

Ceisteanna (331)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

331. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cybersecurity protocols under the remit of his Department; if it has had a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30591/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department's ICT Division employs a variety of policies and practices in its attempts to ensure the integrity, confidentiality and availability of the Department’s data and ICT infrastructure and to protect it from all potential threats, both external and internal. In these efforts, ICT Division utilises expert support from specialist resources including its managed service contract. The division also liaises with the Computer Security Incident Response Team (the CSIRT-IE) of the National Cyber Security Centre in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.  The CSIRT-IE issues general cyber security updates on a regular basis and issues continuous alerts to ICT Division in relation to specific potential cyber security breaches, including advices on appropriate actions to mitigate such threats, which are then implemented.  

The Department is not aware of any cyber security breach in the last 12 months but it continues to be vigilant in its efforts to ensure attempted breaches are repelled. In these circumstances, I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot provide detail on the Department’s cyber security protocols in this reply, as it could potentially reduce their effectiveness and increase the risk of breaches.

Prison Visiting Committees Data

Ceisteanna (332)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

332. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide information in respect of prison visiting committees (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

A Visiting Committee is appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality to each prison under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 and Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1925.  There are currently 12 Visiting Committees - one for each institution.

 The function of Visiting Committees is to visit the prison to which they are appointed at frequent intervals and to hear any complaints which may be made to them by any prisoner.  The Committees report to me any abuses observed or found by them in the prison and any other matters which they think may need be addressed.  The Visiting Committee members have free access either collectively or individually to every part of their prison.

Details of visits, announced and unannounced, along with the arrangements generally made by Committees are contained in the Prison Visiting Committee Annual Reports. These Annual Reports up to and including 2017 are available on my Department's website - www.justice.ie.   The 2018 annual reports are being collated at present with the intention of publishing them before the end of this year. 

 This question asks for the number and the dates of visits by members of the visiting committee to each of the prisons for the period 1 January to 8 July 2019.  These statistics are not readily available. My officials will liaise with the Visiting Committees to gather and collate the details requested by the Deputy, but with the completion of the 2018 Annual Reports being the priority. The 2019 figures requested will be transmitted to the Deputy when my officials have them available.

European Arrest Warrant

Ceisteanna (333)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

333. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of European arrest warrants issued for which arrests and-or extraditions remain outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30632/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

A court in the State may only issue a European Arrest Warrant upon application by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions where it is satisfied that a domestic warrant was issued for the arrest of that person but was not executed and the person is not in the State.

My Department is not involved in the issuing of warrants but does have a role in the transmission of such warrants to other member states of the European Union as appropriate.

My Department does not have full details of each case which is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The information held by my Department suggests that of all the European Arrest Warrants issued in Ireland and transmitted to other Member States since 2004, 197 are currently ongoing. Of this overall provisional figure for active outgoing cases, 98 were issued in the period from the beginning of last year to date.

It should be noted that compliance with EAWs issued by this State is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (334)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

334. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which a no-deal Brexit scenario will impact on the level of criminal justice co-operation which exists between parties to the agreement and the UK specifically with respect to outstanding European arrest warrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30633/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can assure the Deputy at the outset that it is the firm intention of the Government and the British Government that the current high level of criminal justice cooperation will continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario.  Cooperation in the area of law enforcement, particularly in relation to Northern Ireland, is at an all-time high and the Government is determined to maintain this.  The Deputy will be aware that national security is outside the competence of the EU, so ongoing day-to-day cooperation in this area with the UK will continue following Brexit, whatever form it ultimately takes.

Notwithstanding this, considerable planning and preparation across the criminal justice area has been ongoing to take account of the potential impact of Brexit, including in relation to ensuring the continuance of effective extradition arrangements between Ireland and the UK.  This is necessary because of Britain’s proposed departure from the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system.  While the EAW will cease to apply when Brexit occurs, the High Court in the meantime is continuing to deal with outstanding UK EAW cases with a view to minimising the impact of Brexit in this regard.

Following examination of the options available for extradition arrangements between Ireland and the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the fall-back solution is to apply the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition, to which both Ireland and the UK are party, to extradition arrangements between Ireland and the UK.  The provisions of the Convention are given effect to by Part II of the Extradition Act 1965.  The 1965 Act has been amended by Part 13 of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019, which can be commenced when Brexit occurs, in order to ensure that this is a workable solution. 

Immigration Data

Ceisteanna (335)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

335. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the processing of applications under the special scheme for non-EEA nationals that held a student permission (details supplied); the number of applications made; the number of applications processed; when the processing is planned to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the Special Scheme for Students was launched on 15 October, 2018 and closed to new applications on 20 January, 2019.  INIS received approximately 3,100 applications comprising former students and their family members.  To date, INIS has made a decision in approximately 1,800 cases.  INIS has also made a decision in approximately 100 applications for review of a decision to refuse permission under the scheme.

The Deputy will appreciate that it is necessary to process such applications in compliance with legal requirements and in accordance with the Scheme criteria.  I am assured that INIS continues to optimise available resources, including the provision of overtime, with the overarching objective of delivering decisions to all applicants under the scheme as soon as possible.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

Ceisteanna (336)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

336. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a deadline by which he expects Ireland’s commitment to admit 4,000 persons under the relocation and resettlement programmes will be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30665/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In 2015, as part of Ireland's response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe, the Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Under this programme, the Government committed to accepting up to 4,000 people into the State, primarily through a combination of the EU Relocation Programme and the UNHCR's Refugee Resettlement Programme. 

 The Government Decision to accept 4,000 persons into the State did not contain a deadline, but the relocation mechanism, in particular, did carry a time limit of approximately two years to end on 31 December 2017. This was extended to 31 March 2018.  In total, 1,022 people were welcomed in Ireland under the EU relocation mechanism, which fulfilled Ireland's commitment to this strand of the Programme. 

A total of 2,555 people have arrived in Ireland to date under the various strands of the IRPP, 51 of whom are unaccompanied minors.  A further 60 refugees are due to arrive in the coming weeks.

An IRPP mission to Lebanon in March 2019 selected 331 refugees for resettlement to Ireland.  A further mission to Jordan later this month will select approximately 300 refugees. This will complete Ireland’s commitment to admit 1,985 programme refugees under the resettlement strand of the IRPP.   The remaining refugees are due to arrive in Ireland during the remainder of 2019.

The IRPP programme also includes the IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme under which Irish citizens, programme refugees, Convention refugees and persons with subsidiary protection can apply for family members to come to Ireland where those persons are living in the top 10 refugee generating countries.  530 persons are being admitted to Ireland this year under that programme.  

The following table shows the current state of commitments made and the number of persons welcomed to Ireland as part of the IRPP. 

Commitments and Arrivals as part of the IRPP

 -

Commitment

Arrivals

Remaining

EU Relocation Strand (concluded on 31 March 2018)

1,022

1,022

-

Of which are unaccompanied minors

6

6

-

UNHCR-led Resettlement Strand

1,985

1,335

650

Calais Special Project

41

41

-

Unaccompanied minors:  Greece / Malta

60

-

60

Total unaccompanied minors

101

41

60

IRPP Humanitarian Admission Programme 2018/19

530

99

431

Mediterranean search and rescue missions

 

 

 

Adults

54

54

-

Unaccompanied minors

9

4

5

Total from search and Rescue missions

63

58

5

Mechanism as yet undecided

299

-

299

Total IRPP Commitment/Arrivals

4,000

2,555

1,445

Migrant Integration

Ceisteanna (337)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

337. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the local authorities that have a published migrant integration strategy; the local authorities without such a strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30666/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is ware, responsibility in relation to the actions of local authorities lay with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have sought the relevant information from the Local Government Management Agency.

I am informed that all 31 local authorities, under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), have “new communities” and Roma listed as target groups for their actions. Actions for the delivery of SICAP are captured in local authority migrant integration strategies by eight local authorities and an additional twelve local authorities have detailed their actions in other plans, i.e., the Local Economic & Community Plan (LECP). The remaining local authorities are in the process of creating plans or strategies in which their actions targeted at new communities and Roma can be captured and tracked.

Migrant Integration Strategies in place (in addition to SICAP)

 Integration actions detailed in other plans (in addition to SICAP)

 SICAP integration actions

1. Dublin City Council

2. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

3. Fingal County Council

4. Kildare County Council

5. Limerick County Council

6. Longford County Council

7. South Dublin County Council

8. Waterford County Council

1. Cavan County Council

2. Cork City Council

3. Cork County Council

4. Donegal County Council

5. Galway City Council

6. Kerry County Council

7. Leitrim County Council

8. Mayo County Council

9. Sligo County Council

10. Tipperary County Council

11. Westmeath County Council

12. Wexford County Council

1. Carlow County Council

2. Clare County Council

3. Galway County

4. Kilkenny County Council

5. Laois County Council*

6. Louth County Council*

7. Meath County Council

8. Monaghan County Council

9. Roscommon County Council

10. Wicklow County Council*

11. Offaly County Council*

* Update provided in January 2019. All other updates provided by local authorities in June 2019 

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (338)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

338. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a sworn affidavit may be of assistance in authenticating a relationship to their late parent in respect to making an application for Irish citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, as indicated in my response to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question No. 117 of 20 June 2019, 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.

All persons making an application for a certificate of naturalisation are required to provide satisfactory documentary evidence of their identity and nationality. This is usually in the form of a currently valid passport and may include other original supporting documents, such as a previously held or out of date passport, birth certificate or register of birth and marriage certificate.

In rare circumstances where an applicant cannot produce their current passport, or a previous passport, birth certificate or other supporting documents the applicant will be required to provide a full explanation. Such explanation should, where possible, be supported by satisfactory evidence that they have attempted to obtain such documentation and correspondence from the relevant authorities or embassy responsible for the issuing of passports and birth certificates in their country, clearly stating the reasons the documentation cannot be provided. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will consider the explanation given and, if satisfied it is for reasons genuinely beyond the applicant's control, may suggest alternative means to the person to assist in establishing their identity and nationality.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship is governed by specific legal provisions and an assessment as to whether an application is eligible or not can only be made after an application has been submitted.

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.

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (339)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

339. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his Department has conducted an assessment of the additional resources that An Garda Síochána may require in the event of a hard or no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30738/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the manner in which the resources of the Garda Síochána are deployed is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard.

However, I can assure the Deputy that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that optimum use is made of resources.

In common with all Government Departments and State Agencies, An Garda Síochána has been preparing for Brexit and there is ongoing engagement between senior Garda management and my Department in this regard.  Preparation has had a wide-ranging focus on operational requirements, including personnel, infrastructure and technology. I know the Commissioner is committed to ensuring the organisation can deal with any policing challenges arising from Brexit though clearly the circumstances which may arise are dependant on the political settlement. 

As the Deputy is well aware, the Government's policy is that there will be no hard border on the island and there are no plans for such.  However, as he is also aware, policing in the border region has always presented particular challenges and this can be expected to increase in the context of Brexit.  It is also the case that violent dissident republican groups continue to seek to frustrate counter-terrorism efforts and organised criminals seek to exploit the two jurisdictions in order to try to evade detection. 

The 2018 Cross-Border Threat Assessment prepared jointly by An Garda Síochána and the PSNI estimated that some 43 per cent of organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland have a cross-border dimension. Likewise, mobile organised crime groups, responsible for multiple instances of domestic burglary, operate on an all-island basis.  There are increasing instances of borderless crimes such as cyber fraud and international terrorism.  

The success of cross border policing actions is grounded in the recognition that the best means of combatting the threat to our communities is to maintain and enhance the excellent levels of cooperation between law enforcement agencies north and south of the border. The Gardaí and PSNI, along with other agencies, have worked together closely for many years and enjoy an excellent working relationship and co-operation at all levels.

The Fresh Start Agreement recognised this and led to the establishment of Joint Agency Investigation Teams which have had considerable success in combatting this type of crime.   I understand this is also the context for the Commissioner’s operational decision to establish an additional Armed Support Unit in Cavan. 

Garda ASUs provide a rapid armed response capacity and capability on a Regional basis. Members of the ASUs are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons and perform high visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout their respective Regions. In the Northern Region ASUs are currently based in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal and Dundalk, Co. Louth.  An additional ASU for the Northern Region is to be established in Cavan.

Garda deployments in all areas of the country including those along the Border have benefitted from increased recruitment in recent years.  I am advised by the Commissioner that the strength of the Northern Region as on 31 May, the latest date for which figures are currently available, was 1,448 Gardaí. There are 56 Garda Reserves and 153 Garda civilian staff attached to the Northern Region.   An additional 50 Gardaí were assigned to the region from the last attestation on 7 June 2019. 

The increased resources coming on stream have also provided the capacity to expand the specialist bureaus including the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, all of which are particularly active in the Northern Region in addition to the Armed Support Units.

The ongoing recruitment will provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible, effective and responsive policing service.  These requirements will be kept under ongoing review by Garda management with a view to addressing any policing requirements for the Border region which may arise depending upon the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. In the event that a “no deal” Brexit gives rise to additional requirements in border areas, further resources can and will be provided through redeployment.

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (340)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

340. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of implementing a living wage €12.30 for all employees directly employed and or in agencies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Based on current salaries and staff numbers, the additional annual salary cost for implementing a  wage of €12.30 per hour is estimated to be €2,105,568.70 for 592 staff.

These figures include bodies under the aegis of my Department with the exception of An Garda Síochána, the Legal Aid Board, and the Courts Service who were not able to supply data within the timeline.  I have asked these bodies to provide the information directly to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (341)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

341. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the different income streams directly paid by persons to his Department or agencies under his remit, such as motor tax; the number of persons making annual payments; the value of same; the number of payments made through staged or increment payments; the value of same; the additional income generated as a result of payments being made on an incremental basis; if incremental payments are not available, the reason for same; the corresponding figures for 1999 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30858/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that the information sought cannot be provided in the time allowed. As soon as the information has been collated I will write to the Deputy on the matter.