Garda Expenditure

Ceisteanna (200)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

200. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the yearly wage cost of a whole-time forensic accountant. [38690/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made in Garda ICT, the Garda fleet and the Garda estate. In total, the Garda capital allocation has increased from €61 million to €92 million in 2019, which represents a 50% increase.

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 training of its members and Garda staff. The Commissioner is also responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to An Garda Síochána.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current (September 2019) yearly wage cost of a whole-time forensic accountant is €68,827. This estimated costing assumes that forensic accountants are placed on the first point of the relevant salary scale. Employer’s PRSI is included in the estimate at a rate of 10.95%.

Family Reunification

Ceisteanna (201)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

201. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a particular issue in the embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, that is causing difficulty in the processing of join family visa applications in view of the fact that there are serious delays in sending the applications to Dublin such as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38233/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the applications referred to by the Deputy were received in the Abuja Visa Office on 7 December, 2018. Our Policy Document on Family Reunification, contains a stated business target that visa applications to join Irish citizens should ideally be dealt with within six months of receipt of application. However, this business target does not constitute a legal obligation. As the Deputy will appreciate, there is detailed and often complex assessment required to be carried out in relation to applications for family reunification.

While the Immigration Service endeavours to have applications of this nature processed as quickly as possible, processing times can vary based on a number of factors. These factors include the number of applications under consideration at the time, the individual circumstances of the applicant and the sponsor, the complexity of applications and whether further information or investigation is required, and the resources available to process applications. Any delays in achieving the business target are primarily related to the processing of more complex cases where the provision of additional documentation is requested or where detailed assessments of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights are required.

The central concern in deciding on visa applications is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time facilitating travel for those who meet the criteria. Each visa application is decided on its own merits taking all relevant factors into account.

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.In addition, applicants may themselves e-mail queries directly to the Abuja Visa Office (abujaembassy@dfa.ie).

Living Wage

Ceisteanna (202)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

202. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of workers employed by his Department and in each office or agency under the aegis of his Department that earn less than the living wage of €12.30 per hour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38244/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Department is currently undertaking a major transformation programme and in light of this 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.

Gender Equality

Ceisteanna (203)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

203. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions taken and planned to address the gender pay gap that exists in the workforce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Tackling the gender pay gap is an important element in the Programme for a Partnership Government and is included as a key commitment in the Government's National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020.

The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2019 was published on 8 April 2019 and the Bill completed Dáil Committee Stage in June. Report Stage is currently awaited.

The aim of the Bill is to provide transparency on the gender pay gap. The Bill provides for the making of Regulations by the Minister for Justice and Equality requiring employers to publish gender pay gap information. The Regulations would initially apply to firms with 250 or more employees but, over the next few years, this would be reduced to 50 employees. Information on differences in bonus pay will be among the data, which must be published. The Regulations will apply to the public sector as well as the private sector, subject to the employment thresholds.

It is intended that mandatory reporting will incentivise employers to take measures to address the issue insofar as they can.

Measures such as those included in the Bill have been taken in a number of other countries and, indeed, EU Member States were encouraged to take such measures in an EU Commission Recommendation of 2014.

The other gender pay gap measures in the National Strategy for Women and Girls include initiating dialogue between union and employer stakeholders on the matter, increasing understanding of the gender pay gap and its causes and developing practical tools to assist employers to calculate the pay gap within their organisations.

Tackling this issue is good for equality and that it makes good business sense, as firms which can report a low or non-existent gender pay gap will have an advantage in recruiting future employees. Initiatives to address the gender pay gap can also be expected to have a positive impact on disparities in income for women across and after their working lives.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (204)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

204. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases in which citizenship was granted in the past three years to persons that had no Irish born grandparent but had Irish born great grandparents under the power he has to use his absolute discretion in the granting of citizenship; the circumstances of such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38286/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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

It is open to an applicant to apply under Section 16(a) of the 1956 Act where the applicant is of Irish descent or has Irish association. Under the legislation, a person is of Irish association if they are related by blood, affinity or adoption to, or is the civil partner of, a person (living or deceased) who is/was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen. In such cases, the conditions for naturalisation set out under Section 15 of the Act, including residency may be waived on a discretionary basis. The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence of Irish descent or Irish association.

Unfortunately, I am advised that statistics are not compiled in the manner requested by the Deputy, i.e. persons that had no Irish born grandparent but had Irish born great grandparents. The retrieval of this data would require a case by case examination of applications received during the timeframe specified and would represent a significant diversion of resources from day to day processing. However, I am informed by my officials that there are currently 292 Irish association cases under active consideration by the Immigration Service of my Department.

Asylum Applications Data

Ceisteanna (205)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

205. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the increase in the number of persons seeking asylum or subsidiary protection over the past three years; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38287/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, applications for international protection, or asylum as the process was formerly described before we introduced the International Protection Act 2015, is demand-led. It is not possible to accurately predict demand but we know that it can be greatly affected by international events such as regional conflicts and general global migration trends.

The total number of applications received over the past three years is provided in the following table, for the Deputy's information.

As the table shows, the number of applications received has been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2017, there was an annual increase of 30% followed by a further annual increase of approximately 26% last year. To date this year, we have seen a 36% increase in the number of applications received.

Applications are examined by the International Protection Office (IPO), which is independent in exercising its international protection functions. The introduction of a single application procedure under the International Protection Act 2015 means that the IPO is now examining all grounds for granting protection or a humanitarian permission to remain in one process rather than sequentially as before. The aim is to identify as early as possible those who are in need of our protection and those who can safely return to their country of origin. Currently, applications are being processed by the IPO in an average of 16 months with prioritised applications being processed in approximately 9 months. Our aim is to reduce processing in all cases to 9 months; however, this is naturally impacted by the number of applications received.

Year

Total Applications

2016 (Asylum)

2,244

2017 (International Protection)

2,926

2018 (International Protection)

3,673

2019 (International Protection)

3,095*

* figure to the end of August 2019

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (206)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

206. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the increase in the number of persons in direct provision over the past three years; the number of persons in direct provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38288/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, while a claim for International Protection is being examined, the State is legally obliged to offer accommodation and related services to anyone without means - which includes all meals, medical care and utilities. A weekly personal allowance is paid to each person in a centre and exceptional needs are covered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The number of applications for international protection has been steadily increasing and is up 36% since the start of this year. To meet the associated increase in demand for accommodation, my Department has initiated two processes to source additional accommodation. We have sought expressions of interest from parties who would be interested in providing accommodation and related services to people in the international protection process and we have also launched a nationwide, regional tendering process.

Following the most recent tender process, an evaluation of offers is underway. When the evaluation and other commercially sensitive aspects of the process are completed, the Department will begin engagement with local communities and their political representatives.

In 2015, 4,696 people availed of the offer of accommodation services in a direct provision accommodation centre. By end 2018, 6,115 persons were residing in these centres. This is an increase of 1,419, which represents a 30.2% increase in the numbers of those in living in accommodation centres in the period 2015 to 2018.

The following table provides the totals for each year from 2015 to 2018, for the Deputy's information.

Numbers of persons residing in Accommodation Centres for the years 2015 – 2018

Year

Occupancy in Accommodation Centres, End of the Year

2015

4,696

2016

4,425

2017

5,096

2018

6,115

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (207)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

207. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the location of each direct provision centre; the estimated number of persons in each centre; the number that are dependent children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38289/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that there are currently 38 accommodation centres in the State. The occupancy, as of 15 September, is set out in the following table along with the breakdown of the number of dependent children, requested by the Deputy.

There are also 1,363 people currently in emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses located throughout the State. My Department does not disclose the specific location of emergency accommodation centres in order to protect the identity of international protection applicants.

Accommodation as of 15 September 2019

COUNTY

LOCATION

ADDRESS

CURRENT OCCUPANCY (incl. children)

NO. OF CHILDREN BY CENTRE

RECEPTION CENTRE

DUBLIN

Balseskin

St.Margaret’s, Finglas, Dublin 11

433

80

ACCOMMODATION CENTRES

CLARE

Knockalisheen

Meelick

238

39

King Thomond

The Bog Road, Lisdoonvarna

129

42

CORK

Ashbourne House

Glouthaune

94

44

Davis Lane

73-75 Davis Street, Mallow, Co. Cork

57

24

Kinsale Road

Cork

278

60

Glenvera

Wellington Road

124

N/A

Millstreet

Millstreet

296

125

Clonakilty Lodge

Clonakilty, Co. Cork

106

46

DUBLIN

The Towers

The Ninth Lock, Clondalkin, D.22

236

80

GALWAY

Eglinton

The Proms, Salthill

200

76

Great Western House

Eyre Square

153

N/A

KERRY

Atlas House (Killarney)

Killarney

89

33

Atlas House (Tralee)

Tralee

96

N/A

Atlantic Lodge

Kenmare

93

15

Johnson Marina

Tralee

84

29

Linden House

New Road, Killarney

57

N/A

Park Lodge

Killarney

44

N/A

KILDARE

Hazel

Dublin Road, Monasterevin

122

21

Eyrepowell

Newbridge

139

31

LAOIS

Hibernian Hotel

Main Street, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

52

23

Montague

Emo, Portlaoise

203

37

LIMERICK

Hanratty’s

Glenworth Street, Limerick

118

N/A

Mount Trenchard

Foynes, Co. Limerick

81

N/A

LONGFORD

Richmond Court

Richmond Street, Longford

76

N/A

LOUTH

Carroll Village

Dundalk

63

31

MAYO

The Old Convent

Ballyhaunis

224

107

MEATH

Mosney

Mosney

721

322

MONAGHAN

St.Patrick’s

Monaghan

198

69

SLIGO

Globe House

Chapel Hill

201

27

TIPPERARY

Bridgewater House

Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary

160

75

WATERFORD

Atlantic House

Tramore, Co. Waterford

80

N/A

Ocean View

Tramore, Co. Waterford

106

46

Birchwood

Ballytruckle Road

150

50

Viking House

Coffee House Lane

80

N/A

WICKLOW

The Grand Hotel

Abbey Street, Wicklow

93

19

WESTMEATH

Temple Accommodation

Horseleap, Moate, Westmeath

90

13

Athlone

Athlone

294

113

TOTAL

6058

1677

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (208)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

208. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for putting asylum seekers, persons seeking subsidiary protection and others in direct provision rather than allowing them to live in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38290/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The State offers accommodation, food and a range of other services (including healthcare, utilities, a weekly personal allowance etc.) to any person who arrives in the State seeking international protection. No one is obliged to accept this offer and applicants can choose to stay with friends or family living in the community or to source and provide for their own accommodation if they have the means to do so.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is not possible to predict how many people will arrive in any given year or indeed on any given day seeking international protection. The current system ensures that applicants can receive shelter, food and other essential services immediately upon their arrival.

More than 60,000 vulnerable people have been assisted by my Department since the Direct Provision system was introduced, including many families with children. Currently, my Department is accommodating more than 7,400 people.

People who are seeking international protection have a temporary right to reside in the State while we are examining their claim. Anyone who receives a positive decision on their application has the same rights to State services and supports, including housing, as nationals and EEA nationals. My Department is currently continuing to accommodate over 900 people who have been granted an international protection status or a permission to remain while we assist them to transition to mainstream housing. We are working with the Local Authorities and the City and County Managers Association, in addition to providing funding support to organisations like DePaul Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust, to provide all possible assistance to help these people to move on from centres. This is extremely important for their integration in our local communities and to foster independence as they begin their new lives.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (209)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

209. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the present tendering process being carried out in the west of Ireland in relation to the provision of direct provision will be concluded; the stage at which local communities will be consulted in relation to same; the nature of the consultation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38291/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food and a range of other services (including meals, utilities, healthcare etc.) and allowances to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their legal claim is being examined. The number of applicants has been steadily increasing (up 36% since the start of the year) and to cope with demand, my Department has invited premises to tender to offer accommodation and other services.

Following the most recent tender process, an evaluation of offers received is now underway. We cannot confirm the location of new centres at this time. When the evaluation and commercially sensitive aspects of the process are completed, my Department will begin engagement with local communities and their political representatives.

It is anticipated that the evaluation process for this region will conclude by mid November 2019.

Additionally, advertisements were placed in the national press seeking expressions of interest from accommodation providers for suitable accommodation, which the Department could contract for 12 months. Accommodation providers can offer premises both through the tender process and the expressions of interest process.

Road Safety

Ceisteanna (210)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

210. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he convened a meeting regarding parking by private motorised vehicles in cycle lanes with the Ministers for Transport, Tourism and Sport and Housing, Planning and Local Government; the actions decided upon; when cyclists will begin to see an improvement in enforcement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38320/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy may be aware that I regularly meet my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross TD, to discuss road safety matters including in particular at the Ministerial Committee on Road Safety.

Minister Ross and I co-chair that Committee, which is made up of all major stakeholders involved in road safety, including the Road Safety Authority, An Garda Síochána, the Health and Safety Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, the Department of Health, the City and County Managers' Association and the Attorney General. It provides an important forum to oversee the implementation of the Road Safety Strategy and facilitate high-level discussion of road safety issues.

Minister Ross and I met most recently in relation to road safety issues at last week’s Committee meeting.

In relation to the specific matter raised by the Deputy, namely parking by private vehicles in cycle lanes, I am informed by An Garda Síochána that there has been a very significant increase in the monthly average of Fixed Charge Notices issued for 'Parking in a Cycle Track'. This highlights An Garda Síochána’s dedication and ongoing commitment to making our roads a safer place for all road users including cyclists.

I have included for the Deputies information a detailed table compiled by An Garda Síochána with details of fixed charge notices issued from 2010 up to the end of June 2019.

Fixed Charge Notices issued for 'Parking in a Cycle Track'

Year

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 (Jun)

Total

FCNs issued

361

240

344

255

154

366

268

471

705

389

3,553

Monthly average issued

30

20

29

21

13

31

22

39

59

65

I am further informed that An Garda Síochána’s Roads Policing Operations Plan for 2019 was developed with a particular road safety focus on the vulnerable road user categories of motorcyclists, pedal cyclists, learner-permit holders and pedestrians. To ensure safety on our roads, all road users must comply fully with relevant road traffic legislation. An Garda Síochána are committed to educating all road users in their attitudes and behaviour, and when necessary detecting and intercepting dangerous drivers, or those who refuse to comply with road traffic laws; including the enforcement of cycle track access for cyclists during designated hours.

Finally, I would reiterate that road safety is a shared responsibility. I would urge drivers to remember that illegal parking in cycle tracks leads to an increased safety risk for vulnerable cyclists, as they are forced to avoid obstructions by moving into adjacent traffic flows.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (211)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

211. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the ongoing lengthy delays in a citizenship application by a person (details supplied) will be examined; when a decision will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38334/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy made an application for a certificate of naturalisation on 19 March 2019.

As the Deputy will appreciate the granting of Irish Citizenship through naturalisation confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to protect the integrity of the process. All applications are examined to determine if the applicant meets the statutory conditions for naturalisation as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, such as good character and lawful residence.

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

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 Question process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service in cases where the response from the Immigration Service is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (212, 216, 221)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

212. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the first draft of new legislation will be brought forward which will grant applicants for Irish citizenship the right to be absent from the country for a set period of time; when clarity will be provided on the issue in view of the fact that the High Court ruling regarding same is causing distress for applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38335/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

216. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to his previous e-mail (details supplied), the position regarding legislation to address a recent High Court judgment on citizenship rights; if citizenship eligibility rules will be brought into line with other countries in which applicants are allowed 90 days or more per year outside the country prior to their application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38413/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

221. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the Irish nationality and citizenship (amendment) Bill will pass both Houses of the Oireachtas in view of the practical difficulties that arise for applicants for naturalisation from a recent court ruling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38579/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212, 216 and 221 together.

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 doing everything possible to put in place a solution on an urgent basis. I have taken expert legal advice and I intend to introduce legislation to address the issue. At the end of July, I obtained Cabinet approval for a proposed Bill and intensive work is taking place in my Department where officials are working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General's Office to finalise the draft Bill.

I am advised that the appeal is likely to be heard early next month. The outcome of the appeal will, of course, have a bearing on whether or not legislation is required. Should it be necessary, I intend to introduce the Bill in the Oireachtas as soon as possible this term. I know that colleagues of all parties are concerned with the difficulty that has arisen and I am hopeful that the Oireachtas will give the Bill early and positive consideration.

As soon as the legal issues are resolved, my officials will make all necessary arrangements for the next Citizenship Ceremony. Invitations will issue four weeks in advance of the ceremony to ensure everyone has adequate notice.

In the interim, the Immigration Service of my Department is advising those who are planning to apply for citizenship to continue to collect all of 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 their application.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (213)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

213. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of meetings he has engaged with the CEO and-or equivalent of each State agency under his remit to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I engage regularly with the heads of agencies and bodies to discuss topical issues as needs arise. Our discussions take place in a range of settings, in particular at events related to my sector. Such meetings would not necessarily be captured in my diary. In the following table, I have listed the meetings recorded in my departmental diary since 1 January 2019. Such meetings include one-to-one sessions, along with conferences and launches specific to that agency/body.

I, along with my colleague, the Minister of State for Justice and Equality David Stanton T.D., host an annual roundtable event bringing together delegates from across the Department and from the agencies and bodies in the justice and equality sector. Participants include senior management from the Department, Chief Executive Officers, Chairs of Boards and senior staff from the agencies/bodies.

This event provides a valuable opportunity to share experiences and consider together new challenges facing the sector. This annual Roundtable is one of the forums developed to encourage interactions, build relationships and inter-agency co-operation and enhance sharing of experience and learning within the justice and equality sector. To date, four such meetings have been held with the most recent taking place on 19 July 2019.

In addition, my officials meet regularly with the heads of agencies/bodies under my remit in accordance with the formal governance arrangements set out for each, keeping me abreast of relevant issues and developments.

State Agency/Body

No. of meetings

An Garda Síochána

7

Coroner's Office

1

Courts Service

2

Data Protection Commission

1

Forensic Science Ireland

2

Inspector of Prisons

1

Irish Prison Service

3

Legal Aid Board

1

Office of the State Pathologist

1

Property Services Regulatory Authority

2

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (214)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

214. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda public service vehicle inspectors assigned to each Garda division at 9 September 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38389/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

There has been an unprecedented level of investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years. The budgetary allocation to An Garda Síochána for 2019 amounts to €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made in Garda ICT, the Garda fleet and the Garda estate. In total, the Garda capital allocation has increased from €61 million to €92 million in 2019, which represents a 50% increase.

This continuing investment in people and capital supports the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

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 personnel matters. The Commissioner is also responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to An Garda Síochána, in light of identified operational demands.

I am assured however that Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that information on the Garda workforce is available at the following link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Finally, I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the following table sets out the number of Garda public service vehicle inspectors and their assignmement, correct as at 9 September 2019.

Region

Division or location

Number of PSV Inspectors

DMR

DMR (Roads Policing)

2

Eastern

Meath

1

Wicklow

1

Laois/Offaly

1

Westmeath

1

Kildare

1

Northern

Sligo/Leitrim

2

Cavan/Monaghan

1

Donegal

1

South Eastern

Kilkenny/Carlow

1

Wexford

1

Tipperary

1

Waterford

1

Southern

Cork West

1

Cork North

1

Cork City

1

Limerick

1

Western

Clare

1

Mayo

1

Galway

1

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Question No. 216 answered with Question No. 212.

Ceisteanna (215)

James Lawless

Ceist:

215. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to extend the application dates for the community-based CCTV scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38401/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, Community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI No 289 of 2006). This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,

- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller, and

- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded and these key legal requirements have not changed since 2006. The possibility of establishing a Community CCTV scheme is available to groups that meet these legal requirements, anywhere in the country.

Since 2017, my Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area.

The Deputy will appreciate that while the Estimates process is ongoing, I am not in a position to respond to his query in relation to my Department's allocation for the coming year. However, I can confirm that the grant aid scheme remains open for applications from interested groups in 2019 and that all fully completed applications received before the end of 2019 will be considered.

Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities nationwide, can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have recently expanded the grant aid scheme to cover not only new CCTV systems but also to allow funding applications for extension or upgrade of existing Community CCTV systems which are incomplete or obsolete. Applicants can now also seek a grant of up to €5,000 for minor maintenance costs.

I must emphasise that grant funding can be considered only for CCTV systems which meet the legal requirements for CCTV, in other words CCTV systems which have been approved by the relevant Joint Policing Committee, the relevant Local Authority (also acting as Data Controller) and which have received the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address communitycctv@justice.ie

Question No. 216 answered with Question No. 212.

Legal Aid Service Data

Ceisteanna (217)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

217. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of solicitors, paralegal and administrative staff participating on the free Legal Aid Board by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38414/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Legal Aid Board and they have provided the information in the following tables:

County

Location

Admin Staff

Paralegal

Solicitor

Cavan

Cavan Law Centre

2

1

2

Clare

Ennis Law Centre

4

1

3

Cork

Cork North Law Centre

6

3

8

Cork

Cork South Law Centre

6

3

7

Donegal

Letterkenny

4

4

Dublin

Blanchardstown Law Centre

4

1

3

Dublin

Child Abduction Unit

3

1

3

Dublin

Clondalkin Law Centre

5

1

2

Dublin

Criminal Legal Aid

8

0

0

Dublin

Finglas Law Centre

4

1

3

Dublin

IT Dublin

7

0

0

Dublin

Jervis Law Centre

5

1

5

Dublin

Medical Negligence Unit

2

2

4

Dublin

Research Learning & Development

10

0

0

Dublin

Smithfield Law Centre

11

11

14

Dublin

Tallaght Law Centre

4

1

4

Dublin

Head Office Smithfield

10

2

2

Galway

Seville House

4

4

5

Galway

Francis Street

5

3

6

Kerry

Cahirciveen Head Office

49

0

1

Kerry

Tralee Law Centre

3

2

4

Kildare

Newbridge Law Centre

3

1

4

Kilkenny

Kilkenny Law Centre

5

1

4

Laois

Portlaoise Law Centre

4

1

3

Limerick

Limerick Law Centre

5

2

4

Longford

Longford Law Centre

4

4

Louth

Dundalk Law Centre

3

1

2

Mayo

Castlebar Law Centre

5

1

3

Meath

Navan Law Centre

5

1

2

Monaghan

Monaghan Law Centre

4

2

3

Offaly

Tullamore Law Centre

3

1

2

Sligo

Sligo Law Centre

3

2

2

Tipperary

Nenagh Law Centre

4

2

4

Waterford

Waterford Law Centre

4

2

3

Westmeath

Athlone Law Centre

5

0

4

Wexford

Wexford Law Centre

3

2

4

Wicklow

Wicklow Law Centre

4

1

4

Below: The number of solicitors offering services via the Board’s private practitioner panels per county.

District Court Panel

Circuit Court Panel

District Court ChildcarePilot Panel*

Coroner’s Court Panel

International ProtectionPanel**

Abhaile Panel

Carlow

31

7

26

Cavan

29

4

1

29

Clare

25

8

32

Cork

83

12

3

30

43

Donegal

30

4

24

3

22

Dublin

189

15

51

2

59

88

Galway

56

16

29

37

Kerry

39

8

17

Kildare

69

11

45

Kilkenny

22

4

32

Laois

32

5

28

Leitrim

30

8

25

Limerick

39

10

2

24

Longford

29

5

1

21

Louth

52

3

2

31

Mayo

14

15

4

27

Meath

65

4

2

41

Monaghan

18

1

36

Offaly

32

3

28

Roscommon

43

15

25

Sligo

25

8

1

19

Tipperary

21

10

1

49

Waterford

24

6

27

Westmeath

43

6

1

27

Wexford

27

5

11

25

Wicklow

54

9

1

32

* The Childcare Private Practitioner panel is currently operating on a pilot basis in three counties.

** The Board offers legal services to International protection clients via three of its law centres and maintains a private practitioner panel on this basis also.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (218)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

218. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the review of the Defamation Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is currently finalising the statutory review of the Defamation Act 2009. I expect a draft report with options for reform, including possible proposals for legislative change, to be submitted to me in the coming weeks.

The Review is addressing all of the issues raised in submissions made to it, including those that featured in a recent campaign by the print media. These include:

- whether changes should be made to the respective roles of the judge and the jury in High Court defamation cases; and

- whether any change should be made to the level or type of damages which may be awarded in defamation cases, or to the factors to be taken into account in making that determination.

The objective set for the defamation review from the outset was to ensure that our defamation law strikes the right balance between protecting an individual’s good name and privacy. Furthermore, our defamation law must protect the right to freedom of expression, taking account of the vital role played by a free and independent press in our democracy.

This is an important and complex area of legal reform and I can assure the Deputy that is a priority for me and for my Department.