Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (96)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

96. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 128 of 18 September 2019, the number of groups (details supplied) that have been established; the organisation responsible for establishing each group; the terms of reference for the establishment of each group; the needs analysis carried out for each group; the funding provided for each group; the additional supports provided for each group; the degree to which he engages these groups; the review procedures in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38938/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The establishment of a “Friends of the Centre” group in each centre providing accommodation to persons seeking international protection was a key recommendation of the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers (known as The McMahon Report). All 38 accommodation centres plus the reception centre at Balseskin, have Friends of the Centre Groups.

The purpose of a Friends of the Centre Group is to facilitate links between the residents of accommodation centres and local community, voluntary and sporting groups. It is a contractual obligation for our contractors to provide for Friends of the Centre Groups. The operation of the group is facilitated by staff from the accommodation centre. For example, the operator of the centre must make a room available to facilitate meetings. The composition of each group varies from centre to centre but will include staff members, residents and volunteers from the local community. Officials from the Department will occasionally attend meetings particularly if invited by the group to do so. All aspects of the accommodation system for international protection applicants is kept under continuous review.

The scope of and the types of activities engaged in by the group vary from centre to centre. They reflect the type of residents being accommodated in a centre and also the voluntary groups that are active in a particular locality. For example, the activities engaged in by a group based in a centre that accommodates only single adults will be different to those engaged in by a group based on a centre accommodating families. Examples of groups that have engaged with Friends of the Centre include local Tidy Towns committees, sports clubs, men’s sheds and Mother and Baby clubs. Activities in the centres are eligible to apply for funding under the Communities Integration Fund (CIF). The Friends of The Centre in Ballaghaderreen have received €5,000 funding on 17 September under the Communities Integration Fund for 2019.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (97)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

97. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) will receive a reply to an application for stamp 4S made in December 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38940/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person concerned made an application for the Special Scheme for students 2005-2010 on 18 December 2018. The processing of this application is ongoing and a decision has not yet been finalised. The applicant will be contacted by the Immigration Service once a decision is made on 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 Service is , in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (98)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

98. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when handheld devices will be rolled out to the roads policing unit nationally; if the 2,000 devices will be operable by the end of 2019 as reported to the Committee of Public Accounts on 9 May 2019 by the Garda Commissioner; if not, if it will be the end of 2020 as reported to the Committee on Justice and Equality on 18 September 2019 by the Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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

I have requested additional information from the Garda authorities in relation to this matter and I will write directly to the Deputy when I receive it.

Garda Resources

Ceisteanna (99)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

99. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has received requests from the Garda Commissioner for additional personnel and resources for the traffic policing units of An Garda Síochána in the context of budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38973/19]

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. I understand 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.

Very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána - the allocation to the Garda vote for 2019 was €1.76 billion, along with a total of €92 million in capital investment this year.

As Deputies are aware, the Government has a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021. It is a matter for the Commissioner as to how he best deploys the resources available to him.

Regarding roads policing specifically, the Deputy may be interested to know that a selection competition to increase the overall strength of Garda Roads Policing Units commenced nationwide in 2017. This selection competition is now complete and an additional 146 Garda members were assigned to Roads Policing Units nationwide in Q4 2018.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a further competition to increase the overall strength of Roads Policing Units commenced nationwide in February 2019. This competition is currently ongoing and it is envisaged that by the end of 2019 there will be an increase in members attached to Roads Policing Units nationwide. The following table indicates the Garda staffing projection for the Roads Policing Units Nationwide envisaged by 2021:

Year

Target Level

2018

744

2019

891

2020

980

2021

1035

I would first remind Deputies that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions, is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of his identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no direct role in this matter.

Private Security Authority

Ceisteanna (100)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

100. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a PSA licence will be granted to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Private Security Authority is an independent statutory body under the aegis of my Department. It was established under the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, and holds responsibility for the licensing and regulation of the private security industry in Ireland.

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I am not involved in the day-to-day processing of applications by the Authority. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on any specific application submitted to and being considered by the Authority.

Crime Data

Ceisteanna (101)

John Lahart

Ceist:

101. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the typical offences recorded statistically as offences against Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of the official recorded crime statistics, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

However, to be of assistance, I have asked the CSO to forward the information in relation to this category directly to the Deputy.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (102)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify his reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 272 and 273 of 17 September 2019 (details supplied). [39002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As I have previously informed the Deputy, 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.

Co-operation 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.

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.

As such, I can confirm for the Deputy that should the UK leave the EU without a deal, the UK will as a consequence lose access to the European Arrest Warrant mechanism and will be treated as a third state for extradition purposes. However extradition would be possible between Ireland and the UK under the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition, as is the case for other third states.

EAW cases still active on the date of the departure of the UK from the EU would cease to have effect. As the Deputy will appreciate, what would happen in any particular case will depend on the individual circumstances of that case. However and in general, if an EAW request ceases to have effect, a new request under the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition would have to be issued before the matter could be considered further. I can assure the Deputy that this issue has been factored into contingency planning on these matters.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (103)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

103. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the upgrade works at the Clondalkin Towers direct provision centre, which despite being required to commence within six months of the new contract being signed have not yet commenced; the works to be undertaken at this location; the reason they have not started; when they will start; and the engagement his Department and-or RIA have had with a company (details supplied) to ensure this key aspect of the contract is complied with. [39011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department advertised a tender competition in September 2018 for suitable premises within 40km of Newbridge, Co. Kildare for accommodation and ancillary services for international protection applicants.

Successful bidders were required to undertake mobilisation works to provide for cooking facilities for residents, a foodhall (where residents can procure ingredients and food items as well as toiletries and household items through a points system) and to provide designated living space for families outside of the bedrooms. A period of 12 weeks was permitted for the completion of any required mobilisation works prior to the inspection of the premises by staff of the International Protection Accommodation Service of my Department (formerly known as the Reception and Integration Agency). Successful bidders were advised that no contract would enter into effect until the mobilisation works were completed and the premises inspected.

The provider of premises at the Towers Centre in Clondalkin, Dublin 22 was successful in being placed on the tender framework. The owner of the premises was advised that the 12 week mobilisation period commenced on 11 April 2019, which required all works to be complete by the 4 July 2019. The contractor subsequently advised that they were not in a position to commence mobilisation as they had focused resources on the mobilisation works required at other accommodation centres, which had also been placed on the framework. My Department is continuing to engage with the provider to establish a commencement date for the mobilisation works.

I should also inform the Deputy that, due to increases in the number of people seeking protection in the State, the Immigration Service in my Department has since commenced a national procurement programme for additional accommodation centres. This comprises a series of regional competitions through the Government's procurement website www.etenders.gov.ie. Advertisements were placed last week for a tender competition for the Dublin region.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (104)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

104. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 268 of 17 September 2019, the number of Garda vehicles available in working order and operational in each Garda district within the Cork city division at the end of each of the years 2015 to 2018 and as at 20 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39022/19]

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 An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. In addition, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands.

This includes responsibility for the allocation of vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. 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.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the attached table sets out the number of vehicles allocated to the Cork City Division, broken down by District, from 2015 to date, as requested by the Deputy.

I should also point out that a total of €10 million has been made available to An Garda Síochána for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019. I understand from Garda management that this allocation is being used for the purchase and fit-out of over 300 for operational use in An Garda Síochána. The allocation of these new vehicles across the Garda Divisions is for Garda management and not for me as Minister.

Garda Fleet in Cork City Division, 2015 -2019 (correct as of 20 September 2019)

2019 (as of 20/9/19)

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4x4

*Others

Total

ANGELSEA STREET DISTRICT

56

14

7

1

0

78

GURRANABRAHER DISTRICT

9

1

0

0

1

11

MAYFIELD DISTRICT

8

4

1

0

4

17

TOGHER DISTRICT

13

1

0

0

1

15

CORK CITY DIVISION

86

20

8

1

6

121

2018

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4x4

*Others

Total

ANGELSEA STREET DISTRICT

55

13

7

3

4

82

GURRANABRAHER DISTRICT

11

1

0

0

1

13

MAYFIELD DISTRICT

11

4

1

0

4

20

TOGHER DISTRICT

14

1

0

0

0

15

CORK CITY DIVISION

91

19

8

3

9

130

2017

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4x4

*Others

Total

ANGELSEA STREET DISTRICT

67

15

7

3

4

96

GURRANABRAHER DISTRICT

12

1

0

0

1

14

MAYFIELD DISTRICT

10

3

1

0

4

18

TOGHER DISTRICT

11

1

0

0

0

12

CORK CITY DIVISION

100

20

8

3

9

140

2016

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4x4

*Others

Total

ANGELSEA STREET DISTRICT

65

17

8

4

6

100

GURRANABRAHER DISTRICT

11

1

0

0

1

13

MAYFIELD DISTRICT

9

2

1

0

3

15

TOGHER DISTRICT

14

1

0

0

1

16

CORK CITY DIVISION

99

21

9

4

11

144

2015

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4x4

*Others

Total

ANGELSEA STREET DISTRICT

65

16

4

2

2

89

GURRANABRAHER DISTRICT

8

1

0

0

1

10

MAYFIELD DISTRICT

9

3

0

0

2

14

TOGHER DISTRICT

13

1

0

0

1

15

CORK CITY DIVISION

95

21

4

2

6

128

* The category 'other' refers to MPV, SUV, Minibus or Prisoner Conveyance Vehicles

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (105)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

105. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding gaming lotteries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39038/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the law regulating the licensing of gaming machines is set out in Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. In that Part, licensing requires a local authority resolution, a District Court certificate and a licence, upon payment of the relevant fees, issued by the Revenue Commissioners.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has no role in this process, apart from setting stake and prize amounts. The Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019, currently awaiting Report Stage in the Dáil proposes to update those amounts to a more realistic level.

The machines referred to by the Deputy will not be permitted through the amendment proposed to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (106)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

106. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the work regarding naturalisation applications (details supplied) following a High Court ruling; the impact the ruling has on naturalisation applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39039/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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.

Consumer Protection

Ceisteanna (107, 108)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

107. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a recent survey by an association (details supplied) found that, of a sample of toys purchased from third party sellers on online marketplaces, 58% were non-compliant with UK toy safety regulations and 22% had significant safety issues; and the steps she is taking to address this. [38924/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

108. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she has engaged with her ministerial colleagues regarding the sale of toys by online retailers to consumers here in order to ensure that toys being sold meet Irish and EU quality standards. [38925/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 108 together.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is the relevant market surveillance authority in relation to Directive 2009/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys, which was transposed into Irish law by S.I. No. 14 of 2011. The Directive places the onus on all economic operators (ie manufacturers, distributors, importers) to ensure that only safe toys are placed on the market. If economic operators become aware that toys on the market present a potential hazard they must take appropriate measures, up to and including a recall of the items, to ensure that the risk is removed. Any such action taken by an operator must be notified to the relevant market surveillance authority, ie the CCPC. Where the CCPC finds unsafe toys on the Irish market, it will act to ensure that the responsible economic operators remove the toys from the market until they are in compliance with the legislation.

Section 9 (5) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 provides that the CCPC is independent in the performance of its functions, including carrying out investigations of unsafe toys. As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of the CCPC, I, as the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation have no direct function in the matter.

Nevertheless, I can confirm that the CCPC is aware of the recent survey by the British Toy and Hobby Association. The CCPC has also informed me that the issues raised by the survey are familiar to the CCPC and these issues have also been found during the CCPC’s routine market surveillance activities. For the period between January 2016 and July 2019, the CCPC investigated 259,218 toys to check if they were compliant with S.I. No. 14 of 2011 and approximately 28% were found to be non-compliant. Where the relevant economic operator was not able to bring these products into compliance they were then removed from the market.

The CCPC has also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Customs Service in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, which will provide for greater cooperation between the two bodies and improve the market surveillance of products entering the Irish market. The CCPC is also currently increasing the number of trained staff in its Product Safety Unit and expects the level of both proactive and reactive market surveillance activity to increase in the future.

In addition, the European Commission has recently agreed and published a new Regulation (Regulation 2019/1020 on the Market Surveillance and Compliance of Products) that will give extra powers to market surveillance authorities, such as the CCPC, to regulate products (including toys) sold online. The Regulation will also ensure closer cooperation between market surveillance authorities and customs services in the EU to address the issue of unsafe products (including toys) being imported from third countries. The Regulation will apply from the 16th July 2021 throughout the EU and officials from my Department are currently engaged in preparing implementing legislation to give full effect to all safety and co-operation aspects of the Regulation.

With regard to ensuring that products sold by online marketplaces meet Irish and EU standards, I can inform the Deputy that all products placed on the EU market must be safe. Where a product sold online originates in a country outside the EU, the economic operator will have to comply with the relevant customs authorities (whether in the State or in another jurisdiction) in relation to legislation covering products at point of entry into the EU.

Should the Deputy have any information in relation to unsafe toys or other products on the Irish market, she should make contact with the CCPC directly to provide any relevant information on these matters.

International Conventions

Ceisteanna (109)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

109. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation when Ireland will ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention and Recommendation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38936/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I welcome the adoption of Convention 190 Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work and the accompanying Recommendation 206 at the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) last June. The Irish tripartite delegation to the ILC played a very active role in the Standard Setting Committee in which the Convention and Recommendation were drawn up. It should be noted that conventions are legally binding international treaties that may be ratified by ILO member States and recommendations are non-binding guidelines.

I am aware that Convention 190 is the first ever international instrument on the very important issues of eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. Ireland already has very strong protections in law to combat violence and harassment in the world of work and has recently ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention)

The issue of ratification by Ireland of Convention 190 is being considered in the context of our standard approach to the ratification of international instruments. Ireland does not ratify international conventions until it has been determined that national law is in line with the provisions of the international instrument.

To this end, my officials have already commenced work on a detailed article-by-article examination of the extent to which domestic legislative provisions already provide for the rights and entitlements enunciated in each article, as well as the extent to which any legislative amendments will be required. Following consultation with Departments within whose remit elements of the Convention fall, and with the Social Partners, this examination will be sent to the Attorney General for their consideration. When the Attorney General has indicated that Ireland is in a position to ratify Convention 190 there will be a wider stakeholder consultation to seek views on the ratification of the Convention.

In view of the process outlined in the preceding paragraph, you will appreciate that it is not possible at this stage to put a timeframe on ratification of Convention 190. However, I can assure you of Ireland’s commitment to work towards being amongst the first ILO member States to ratify Convention 190.

Home Care Packages Provision

Ceisteanna (110)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

110. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Health the plans he has made to address the shortage of home care hours and the postcode lottery involved in home care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38998/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Department of Health is currently engaged in the development of a new statutory scheme and system of regulation for home-support services. The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy commits to the introduction of this scheme in 2021. As part of this, work is on-going to determine the optimal approach to the development of the statutory scheme within the broader context of the Sláintecare reforms.

Presently the Department of Health is engaging extensively with the HSE in the context of planning for winter, including consideration of the response to dealing with current challenges such as the high level of delayed transfers of care. While this engagement continues the HSE has been authorised to undertake immediate action to mitigate the challenges. Discussion will continue over the coming weeks having regard to the Estimates 2020 process.