Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (593)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

593. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 192 of 19 July 2019, if appropriate residency status to facilitate employment in the case of a person (details supplied) will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35397/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that there is no record of an application having been received in relation to the person referred to by the Deputy.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application to the Immigration Service outlining the particular circumstances of their case.  The person concerned should write directly to Residence Division, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.  In their correspondence, they should provide sufficient biographical information to allow them to be identified and should set out the details of their case.  Information on the different application types, qualifying criteria, and the required documentation are available to view on the website (www.inis.gov.ie). This may be of assistance when preparing their correspondence.

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

Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (594)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

594. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) who is a stamp 4 holder but may qualify for naturalisation; if such an application will be accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35398/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy. The person concerned currently has permission to reside in the State until 4 April 2020.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. Full details of the eligibility criteria and extensive guidelines are available at www.inis.gov.ie. 

I am aware that the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts with the lodgement of an appeal before the Court of Appeal and is therefore sub-judice.

I can, however, assure the Deputy that my Department is continuing to work on finding solutions to the situation as quickly as possible. The best interests of both current and future applicants are foremost in these considerations and on  Thursday 25 July, 2019 I obtained Cabinet approval for the drafting of a Bill which seeks to resolve the issue.  

My officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the in the Attorney General's Office to have a bill drafted on an urgent basis and be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible on resumption of business in mid-September. Further updates, as they become available, will be posted on the Immigration Service website.

Those who are planning to apply for citizenship should continue to collect all the necessary proofs that support their application and to submit a comprehensive application form. Once a solution is in place, if any additional information is required, applicants will be contacted as part of the processing of the application.

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

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (595)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

595. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) that was awarded stamp 4 status but is still awaiting an appointment to register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35399/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that when the person concerned attended their recent appointment with the Immigration Registration Office in Dublin, they provided an out of date permission letter. They were advised by the Registration Office that they should re-apply to my Department for further permission.

As previously advised in their original permission letter dated 17 September 2018, future renewals of the permission to remain should be applied for four weeks in advance of the permission expiring to the Acknowledgement Unit, Repatriation Division, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

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

Family Reunification Applications

Ceisteanna (596)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

596. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35400/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that a proposal under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admissions Programme (known as IHAP) was received from the person referred to by the Deputy.

The IHAP provides an opportunity for Irish citizens and persons with status (Convention refugee status, subsidiary protection status, and programme refugee status), who have eligible family members under the scheme, to make a proposal for these family members to join them here in Ireland.  The IHAP focuses on family members from the top ten major source countries of refugees listed under the UNHCR's Annual Global Trends Report (currently Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea and Burundi).

The first call for proposals under the Programme was made in summer 2018, and 166 people were ultimately granted permission to come to the State. A second call for proposals issued last December, with a closing date for proposals of 8 February 2019. Over 800 proposals were received in this round in respect of over 1,700 potential beneficiaries. Processing of these proposals is ongoing.

The person referred to by the Deputy, submitted a proposal under the second call. The proposer was notified in writing of the decision in respect of this proposal by letter dated 11 July 2019.

As the Deputy may be aware, queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service 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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (597)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

597. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the case of a person (details supplied) can be re-examined with a view to granting temporary residency; if the matter can be further examined with a view to setting aside the deportation order in order to facilitate a reassessment of the person's case for residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35402/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person referred to is the subject of a Deportation Order made on 11 March 2005.

As previously advised, representations were received on behalf of the person concerned pursuant to Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), to revoke the Deportation Order.  Following the consideration of those representations, a decision was taken in July 2018 that the Deportation Order should be affirmed and this decision was communicated to the person concerned by registered post dated 16 July 2018. 

Further representations were received on behalf of the person concerned requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked, pursuant to Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).  Such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

The Deputy might wish to note that the effect of a Deportation Order is that the person named on the Order is legally obliged to leave the State and to remain outside of the State.  The enforcement of a Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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

Garda Strength

Ceisteanna (598)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

598. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda strength by rank including Garda reserves based in each station in a district (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35407/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the allocation and distribution of resources including the recruitment and training of Garda members and members of the Garda Reserve is entirely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no responsibility in this matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

The Deputy may wish to refer to information published, and regularly updated, on my department's website in relation to the Garda workforce. Information available relates to the breakdown of the force by rank as well as Garda numbers by district and division and it is available here:

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

The Garda Reserve strength in each of the years from 2009 to 30 June 2019, the most recent figures available to me, as provided by the Garda Commissioner is available on my Department’s website through the link below. Please note that the breakdown of Garda Reserves is only available on a Divisional basis.

http://justice.ie/en/JELR/006_Garda_Reserve_Strength_2009_to_June_2019.xlsx/Files/006_Garda_Reserve_Strength_2009_to_June_2019.xlsx

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that a class of approximately 100 Garda reserve recruits commenced training on 23/24 March 2019 at the Garda College, Templemore. This is a positive development and delivers on the target set out under 'A Policing Service for the Future', the implementation plan for the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

As the Deputy will be aware, An Garda Síochána is currently conducting a strategic review of the Garda Reserve to inform future decisions around the use of the Reserve. This approach is in line with the recommendation in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland which recommended that recruitment to the Garda Reserve be paused and a Strategy developed. The Strategy will inform the development and preparation for a new Reserve recruitment drive by the end of 2019.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (599)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

599. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied); the extent to which the case is progressing or approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35450/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the application referred to was received by the Visa Office in Moscow on 17 June 2019. Visa applications are dealt with in chronological order by date of receipt within the particular category. The application is currently being processed by staff in the Immigration Service Moscow Visa Office.

A visa application to join with a family member, where the sponsor is an Irish national, can normally be expected to be dealt with within 6 months of receipt of the required documentation, as set out in the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification.  This is a business target which reflects the detailed assessment that is required to be carried out in relation to applications for family reunification.  It does not constitute a legal obligation and such applications may take longer due to the individual circumstances or complexity of the application.

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

Parental Leave

Question No. 601 answered with Question No. 533.

Ceisteanna (600)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

600. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which parents of children with autism and other special needs are considered to meet the criteria for disability under the provisions of unpaid parental leave legislation and therefore qualify for a higher child qualifying age under the legislation; and the mechanisms in place to ensure that his Department is informed of difficulties for parents of special needs children meeting the criteria for the higher age bracket. [35463/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Parental Leave Act 1998 “a ‘disability’, in relation to a child, is defined as “an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment of the child such that the level of care required for the child is substantially more than the level of care that is generally required for children of the same age who do not have any such impairment".  

For the purposes of establishing an entitlement to parental leave until a child is 16, any child that meets these criteria is considered to have a disability.   

I am not aware of any issues concerning parents of disabled children experiencing difficulties taking parental leave under the legislation, however if parents do encounter any such difficulties, they can avail of the dispute resolution mechanisms under Part IV of the Parental Leave Act, 1998.

Question No. 601 answered with Question No. 533.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (602)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

602. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to change the process of applying for extension of volunteer visas for non-EU citizens beyond the current two years; his further plans and processes to allow volunteer visa holders from non-EU countries to apply for citizenship without having to be resident here for five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that a new Volunteering in Ireland preclearance process for non-EEA citizens was launched in April 2018. Under the terms of the volunteering immigration permission, an individual granted such a permission can work in a volunteering role in Ireland for a period of up to 24 months, and may be eligible for a further extension of one year, to an aggregate total of 36 months. Applications for a third year extension should be made before the volunteer worker’s current permission expires.  An extension will only be allowed for volunteer service with the applicant's current sponsor and will be considered only if the sponsor can demonstrate a genuine need for the volunteer to continue working in that role.

Volunteers are typically granted a Stamp 3 immigration permission when they register for an Irish Residence Permit. I am advised that the Immigration Service currently has no plans to change the policy in relation to the immigration permission and the duration of the permission granted to volunteers. I am further advised that there are no plans to apply separate criteria for citizenship applications to the cohort of persons that come to work in Ireland on a volunteer basis.

Garda Recruitment

Ceisteanna (603)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

603. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question Number 464 of 8 May 2019, if he has engaged or consulted with the Garda Commissioner in respect of extending or abolishing the upper age limit for persons wishing to make an application to become a full-time serving trainee Garda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35565/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013 which provide that the age at which a person may apply to join An Garda Síochána as a full time member is not more than 35 years.

On 18 December 2018, the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and agreed to accept all of its 157 key recommendations, including those related to Garda workforce planning and modernisation.  The report is now being implemented in accordance with the targets and timelines set out in "A Policing Service for the Future", the four year implementation plan for the recommendations of the Commission.

Among the issues highlighted in the report was that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society and should therefore develop recruitment strategies to achieve a more diverse intake.  In this regard, it recommended that age limits for recruitment should be removed.

I can inform the Deputy that as set out in my previous response to the same question of 8 May 2019, the question of the appropriate age for recruitment to An Garda Síochána will be considered as part of my Department's broader review of entry to An Garda Síochána.

Consultancy Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (604)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

604. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training on same to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35580/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Staff in my Department have undertaken a range of training courses on all aspects of GDPR.  Online training was rolled out to all staff in 2018 and continues to be provided to new staff.  In addition an external company was engaged to provide customised training in relation to Data Protection, including GDPR, to nominated staff of my Department. 

Details of costs associated with GDPR training are set out in the following table. 

External Provider

Cost €

Legal Island (Online training)

19,250

Bridgecastle Information Management Ltd t/a Castlebridge (customised, classroom based training)

22,656

Total Cost €

41,906

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (605)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

605. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a visa application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the visa application referred to was refused by the Visa Office in Abu Dhabi. The applicant was advised of the reasons for the refusal by letter dated 27 August 2019. 

The applicant was also advised that the decision could be appealed within two months.  No appeal has yet been received in the Abu Dhabi Visa Office.  Should the applicant wish to appeal the decision, they should address the reasons for refusal in any appeal and submit any information or documentation that they wish the Visa Appeals Officer at the Irish Embassy in Abu Dhabi to consider.

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

In addition, applicants may themselves e-mail visa queries directly to visamail@justice.ie.

Law Reform Proposals

Ceisteanna (606)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

606. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the issue of litigation funding and access to justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35632/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, the funding of litigation in this jurisdiction is illegal.  By way of information, both common law and the Statute Law Revision Act 2007 seek to prevent spurious or frivolous litigation through the torts and offences of “maintenance” and “champerty”. 

“Maintenance” may be defined as giving financial assistance or encouragement to a party to litigation by a person who does not have an interest in the litigation or any motive recognised by the law which would justify interference.  “Champerty” may be defined as an aggravated form of maintenance as it involves the support of litigation by a non-party for a share of the proceeds. 

Aspects of litigation funding are also considered to be contrary to public policy.  In particular, litigation funding may drive a market in legal claims and promote litigation for the benefit of the promoter rather than the litigant.  This in turn may create a substantial injustice to a defendant in an action.

As recently as 23 May 2017, the Supreme Court confirmed that professional third party funding does offend the rules of maintenance and champerty (Persona Digital Telephony Ltd. and others v The Minister for Public Enterprise, Attorney General and others). The Supreme Court also considered the potential for new legislation and other broader aspects of the policy approach in this area.

I am also mindful that there have been developments in relation to these matters in other common law jurisdictions. The torts and crimes of maintenance and champerty were abolished in England and Wales under the Criminal Law Act of 1967 and in a number of States in Australia. New Zealand on the other hand has retained both.

As the Deputy will appreciate, there are a number of legal and broader policy aspects of litigation funding that need to be further considered.  In that context, consideration will be given to the anticipated report and recommendations of the Law Reform Commission consultation arising from its June 2016 Issues Paper on "Contempt of Court and Other Offences and Torts Involving the Administration of Justice". I am advised that under Issue 6 of this paper, the Commission has opened up the retention of the related crimes and torts of “maintenance” and “champerty” to public consultation, along with the question of whether third-party funding of litigation should be permitted.

Departmental Customer Charters

Ceisteanna (607)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

607. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of complaints his Department received under the customer service charter in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to issues and-or problems in having complaints registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35648/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is committed to delivering high quality customer service and aims to provide all customers with a complaints procedure that is accessible, efficient, effective, standardised and fair. The Customer Service Charter and Customer Service Action Plan 2016 – 2018 set out the commitments and standards of service that customers can expect in their dealing with my Department.  A new Customer Service Charter and Customer Service Action Plan for 2019 – 2021 is being finalised.

If a customer is not happy with the standard of service received, they are advised to contact the relevant business area of the Department that they were dealing with to have the matter resolved in the first instance.  If this does not resolve the issue, customers may contact the Department’s Customer Service Officer who will investigate the complaint. 

Complaints received by the Department's Customer Service Officer

2017 

2018

2019

 

4

2

0

If the complaint is concerning the standard of service in respect of immigration service delivery, customers are advised to contact the Quality Customer Service Officer for that area.

Complaints received by email to Immigration Service Customer Service Officer

2017 

2018

2019

 

170

298

190*

 *up to 29th August 2019

Work Permits Applications

Ceisteanna (608)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

608. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of progress to reform the atypical working scheme permit rules enforced by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in order to deal with the damaging impact on the provision of out-of-hours general practitioner services particularly in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35681/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that policy responsibility relating to locum doctors is primarily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The role of the Immigration Service of my Department is to provide immigration mechanisms by which non-EEA medical personnel may be recruited to fill temporary vacancies in the health sector as and when required. I am advised that in recent months the Immigration Service has consulted closely with the HSE to determine if the terms of the Scheme require any amendments. The Immigration Service remains committed  to ongoing stakeholder engagement to ensure the smooth operating of the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) with regards to locum GP’s.

Under current arrangements, which have been in place since 2015, doctors undertaking locum work in the Primary Care (GP) sector may be granted a ‘block’ 90-day permission for the duration of their 90-day contract. Exit from and re-entry into the State is not permitted during this 90-day period, except in exceptional circumstances.  The terms of the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) also provide that at least one month must elapse from the expiry date of the 90 day permission before a new application may be made. The rationale for this approach, which applies to all such permissions, is rooted in the principle that an atypical permission is not a substitute for the replacement of full time labour (either sourced within Ireland or the EU or through the Non EEA Work Permit regime). Thus a person granted such permission cannot automatically roll over their atypical permission.  These conditions have applied to permissions granted under the Scheme since its inception. 

Atypical immigration permissions are specifically designed to cover such short term employments in the State and there are alternative options available for longer term employment through the work permit regime of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Firearms and Ammunition Security

Ceisteanna (609)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

609. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter regarding the deactivation of old guns (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under section 6 of the Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990, as amended, deactivated or defective firearms, not capable of being fired, may be kept on the written authorisation of the local Garda Superintendent. 

As the Deputy may be aware, on 8 April 2016, a regulation came into effect and introduced new EU-wide standards for deactivated firearms - the European Commission Implementing Regulation 2015/2403 establishing common guidelines on deactivation standards and techniques for ensuring that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable.  It has subsequently been amended by Commission Implementing Regulation 2018/337, which came into effect in 2018. 

Accordingly and since April 2016, a two-step process is involved, whereby the firearm is firstly deactivated in accordance with the technical requirements of the revised Regulation, followed by an independent verification of this deactivation by a competent public authority appointed by Member States within each jurisdiction. 

The first step may be carried out by any Registered Firearms Dealer in Ireland.  Arrangements for appointment of a competent public authority in Ireland are currently being progressed by my Department.  Pending appointment of such a competent public authority in Ireland, the deactivation of firearms may be verified by the Competent Authority in any other Member State.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (610, 611)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

610. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015; when it will be commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

611. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the information and communications technology strategy for the decision support services underpinned by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35741/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 610 and 611 together.

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health). 

I am advised that the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act is expected to take place next year.   

A number of the provisions of the 2015 Act have already commenced including Part 1 (excluding sections 3, 4 and 7) and Part 9 (excluding sections 96 and 102 and Chapter 3). These provisions were commenced to progress the establishment of the Decision Support Service and the recruitment of its Director, Ms. Áine Flynn.  Ms. Flynn was appointed in October 2017.

The Decision Support Service is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the 2015 Act next year.  As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, there are many complex strands to this preparatory work, including the involvement of multiple organisations.  I am advised that this lead in time is required to ensure the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place to ensure the Decision Support Service is established effectively.  A high-level Steering Group of senior officials from my Department, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing this on-going work. 

Certain provisions of Part 8 of the Act related to advanced healthcare directives have also been commenced by my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Asylum Support Services

Ceisteanna (612)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

612. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if discussions are taking place and consideration has been given to opening a reception centre for asylum seekers in a premises near a town (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35761/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that my Department is in discussions with a number of parties regarding potential premises in a number of locations to meet our obligations to persons seeking international protection and requiring accommodation. In the first half of this year alone, we have seen a 36% annual increase in the number of applications received.

Furthermore, there is currently an ongoing public procurement process through the Government procurement portal www.etenders.gov.ie for accommodation and ancillary services in the Western Region. As the Deputy will appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further while the tender process is ongoing.

Garda Reorganisation

Ceisteanna (613)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

613. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he was consulted on the Garda reorganisation plan; if he has received a copy of same; if he has been informed of the new configuration of the Garda regions which are being reduced from six to four; if so, the details of the existing regions and the proposed regions as informed to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35767/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I warmly welcome the announcement in recent weeks by the Garda Commissioner of a new Operating Model of An Garda Síochána. 

This functional model has long been recommended by independent policing specialists, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI).  Rollout of this model meets a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future, the four year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

While new to Ireland, this model is the norm in other countries.  It is designed to reduce bureaucracy and will shift real decision-making power from Garda Headquarters to the Chief Superintendents, closer to the communities they serve.  Importantly, it will also result in significantly more Sergeants and Inspectors on the ground where leadership, supervision and mentoring is crucial.

I understand that the finer details of the implementation of the new Divisional structures are currently being determined by the Garda Commissioner and his team, and the new model will be implemented on a phased basis throughout 2020.  I further understand that the Commissioner and his team will be meeting Joint Policing Committees all over Ireland in the weeks ahead and there will be opportunities for detailed local engagement at that stage.

Of course, these changes are being introduced at a time of record investment in An Garda Síochána. €1.76 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to € 92 million this year. In terms of Garda numbers the Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitment to achieving a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021.

I am confident that this ongoing investment in Garda resources together with the ongoing reform process will result in an improved policing service for all communities.  

Finally, I can confirm that while I have been informed of the Commissioner's plan and, of course, I was familiar with the recommendations of the expert Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the CoFPI on these matters, the detail of the plan was solely a matter for An Garda Síochána in line with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 which states that by law the allocation of all Garda resources, including the deployment and distribution of Garda personnel, is solely a matter for the Commissioner.  

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (614)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

614. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Irish citizen child of a person (details supplied) will have to attend with the child's mother who has to lodge their application in France, in view of the fact that they first applied for asylum there; if this is likely to affect the application of the father for naturalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35787/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person referred to does not have a live application for naturalisation but does have an application pending for permission to remain in the State as the parent of an Irish citizen child. This application is being dealt with by the relevant section of the Immigration Service of my Department. The application was submitted on 15 October 2018. 

I am further advised by Immigration Service, that permission to parents of Irish Citizen Children is granted where the applicant can show that they are playing an active role in the life of the Irish Citizen Child.  The child must also be continuously residing in Ireland. If the person concerned is granted permission as the parent of an Irish Citizen Child, the child will need to attend when they are registering their permission.

The Deputy may wish to note that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service 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 Immigration Service is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (615)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

615. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the likely status and procedure to be followed in order to regularise residency in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that, a notification issued from the Immigration Service of my Department to the person concerned under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).  The person concerned has not yet submitted any written representations in response.

The position in the State of the person concerned will be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation.  If any representations are submitted, they will be considered before a final decision is made.

The Deputy may wish to note that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service 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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (616)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

616. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) is eligible to apply for naturalisation; if the person's application has been received by the relevant department; if further information is required to process the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy. As the Deputy will appreciate, a determination on whether an applicant satisfies the criteria for naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.  

It is open to any person to make an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements. Detailed information on Irish Citizenship and Naturalisation, as well as the relevant application forms, is available on the Immigration Service website at www.inis.gov.ie.

In relation to applications for citizenship, I am aware that the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts with the lodgement of an appeal before the Court of Appeal and is therefore sub-judice. I can, however, assure the Deputy that my Department is continuing to work on finding solutions to the situation as quickly as possible. The best interests of both current and future applicants are foremost in these considerations and on 25 July 2019 I obtained Cabinet approval for the drafting of a Bill, which seeks to resolve the issue.  

My officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office to have a bill drafted on an urgent basis and be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible on resumption of business in mid-September. Further updates, as they become available, will be posted on the Immigration Service website.

The Immigration Service are advising those who are planning to apply for citizenship to continue to collect all the necessary proofs that support their application and to submit a comprehensive application form. Once a solution is in place, if any additional information is required, applicants will be contacted as part of the processing of the application.

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

Garda Reserve

Ceisteanna (617)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

617. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Garda Reserve and the geographical spread of active reservists by Garda district. [35794/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the allocation and distribution of resources including the recruitment and training of Garda members and members of the Garda Reserve is entirely a matter for the Garda Commissioner. As Minister, I have no responsibility in this matter. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

The strength of the Garda Reserve in each of the years from 2009 to 30 June 2019, as provided by me by the Garda Commissioner, is available on my Department’s website at the following link

http://justice.ie/en/JELR/006_Garda_Reserve_Strength_2009_to_June_2019.xlsx/Files/006_Garda_Reserve_Strength_2009_to_June_2019.xlsx

It should be noted that the distribution of Garda Reserves is included in that table on a Divisional basis only.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that a class of approximately 100 Garda reserve recruits commenced training in March 2019 at the Garda College, Templemore. This is a positive development and delivers on the target set out under 'A Policing Service for the Future', the implementation plan for the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

Finally and as the Deputy may be aware, An Garda Síochána is currently conducting a strategic review of the Garda Reserve to inform future decisions around its use. This approach is in line with the recommendation in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. The Strategy is expected to inform the development and preparation for a new Reserve recruitment drive by the end of 2019.