Garda Data

Ceisteanna (268)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

268. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda stations, Garda district offices and Garda vehicles in the Cavan and Monaghan Garda division by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39531/19]

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 has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and 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 Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda 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 there are 8 Garda Stations in Co. Monaghan and 2 District Offices. I am further informed that there are 17 Garda Stations in Co. Cavan and 2 District Offices.

The following table outlines details of the Garda fleet attached to the Cavan/Monaghan Divisional Fleet as at 30 September 2019.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that a capital allocation of €10 million has been made available for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019. I understand from the Garda authorities that this allocation will be used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year.

Cars

Vans

Motorbikes

4 x 4

*Others

Total

CAVAN-MONAGHAN TOTAL

42

14

2

1

0

59

BAILIEBORO DISTRICT

9

2

0

0

0

11

CARRICKMACROSS DISTRICT

7

2

0

1

0

10

CAVAN DISTRICT

16

4

1

0

0

21

MONAGHAN DISTRICT

10

6

1

0

0

17

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

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (269)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

269. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to prohibit or limit the broadcasting of advertisements by gambling companies on television during certain hours of the day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39553/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The responsibility with regard to the broadcasting of any type of advertisement material during television broadcasts is a matter for the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Television and radio advertising of all products and services, including gambling products is regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland which is the independent regulator of that sector. I understand that Authority has intervened with gambling companies where it concluded that advertisements on Irish media were not adhering to its regulations.  The Authority is not in a position to intervene with foreign-based radio or TV channels, as it does not have jurisdiction.

In its report of March 2019, the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Future Licensing and Regulation of Gambling considered this issue and whether effective and appropriate measures in this regard could be developed in the future.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Ceisteanna (270)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

270. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of PSV licences revoked in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39571/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

You will appreciate that I, as Minister for Justice and Equality, have no role in the administration of small public service vehicle (PSV) licences, which is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

However, I have sought a report from the Garda authorities in relation to this matter and I will write directly to the Deputy when I receive the requested information.

Crime Data

Ceisteanna (271)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

271. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of detections of financial crime in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 by category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will contact the Deputy directly when this information is to hand.

EU Regulations

Ceisteanna (272)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

272. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the consultation that took place between his Department and the stakeholders relative to SI 420/2019; if an organisation (details supplied) was involved in the consultation; if the text used by other EU countries was examined when implementing EU directive 2017/853; if the concerns being expressed by stakeholders will be considered; if the SI will be amended accordingly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39585/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I signed the European Communities (Acquisition and Possession of Weapons and Ammunition) Regulations 2019 (SI No. 420 of 2019) into law on 2 August 2019 and circulated to members of the Firearms Consultative Panel and Registered Firearms Dealers. It has also been published on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality, along with a guidance note.

These regulations came into effect on 1 September 2019. They give effect to EU Directive 2017/853/EU which enhances controls on the acquisition and possession of firearms.

As part of this process, all registered firearms dealers were invited to a consultation meeting with Department of Justice and Equality officials in Mullingar in August 2018, at which the new EU Directive was discussed.

It was not possible to organise a further consultation in advance of the making of the Statutory Instrument, between completion of the drafting process end July 2019; and signature by the Minister, beginning of August 2019, due to significant time pressure for completion of the process in the context of infringement proceedings against Ireland on the matter.

I can also say that my officials met recently with representatives of the organisation referred to by the Deputy, to allow them to outline their concerns in relation to the matter. The organisation referred to has also made a submission to the Department, setting out their concerns and alternative suggestions in relation to the matter.

My Department is considering the matters raised and will consult with the Office of the Attorney General where relevant.

Passport Applications Administration

Ceisteanna (273)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

273. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which a person (details supplied) can regularise themselves when they cannot acquire either a Macedonian or Irish passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39646/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person concerned currently has permission to remain in the State on stamp 4 conditions until 30 May 2021. 

As the Deputy will appreciate, the requirement  to present a current passport in order to obtain a Public Services Card is a matter that the person will need to address with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The Deputy may wish to note that the onus rests with the person concerned to seek to obtain their own national passport or travel document from the authorities of their country of origin. It would not be appropriate for the Irish Authorities to intercede in such matters. 

If the person concerned is required to be present outside the State they should contact their Consular authorities requesting an Emergency Travel Document (Laissez-Passer) to facilitate travelling to obtain a national passport. The person concerned should therefore contact their nearest Embassy in this regard. 

If the person concerned is unable to procure an Emergency Travel Document from his authorities, it remains open to them to seek a temporary travel document from my Department, to facilitate travel to obtain a passport. However; any application submitted must be accompanied with supporting documentation from their own authorities addressed to them and stating why they cannot issue or assist with procuring the passport.

If the person concerned does not receive any response from their own authorities, they should submit proof of attempts to contact same. Any application submitted that does not include the supporting documentation, referred to above, will be refused as all applicants must show that they have made every effort to procure their own national passport. 

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.

Guardian Status

Ceisteanna (274)

James Browne

Ceist:

274. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding fathers’ rights here; his views on fathers’ difficulties in securing access to see their children in spite of court orders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39650/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, there has been extensive reform of family law in recent years to place a greater emphasis on recognising the rights of the child to the society of both his or her parents. The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 is a child–centred Act which addresses the rights of children to legal security, to the care of their parents and important adults in their lives, and to equality before the law.  The reforms in family law provided for in that Act recognise the crucial role of parents and the need for a child to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents.

Married parents of a child are automatically joint guardians and have joint custody of their children. Where married parents separate or divorce, they can decide between themselves on custody arrangements for their children or apply to the courts to decide on the matter. If the father is not married to the mother of the child, he will not automatically become a guardian of the child. The issue of automatic guardianship was considered during the passage of the Children and Family Relationships Bill through the Oireachtas. However, the automatic extension of guardianship to a father who is not involved and is not participating in his child’s life would have consequences for the child and the child’s mother, for example, if he does not consent to the issue of a passport or to the placement of a child for adoption.

There are provisions in place to facilitate non-marital fathers who have an ongoing relationship with their children to become guardians of their children. Section 2(4A) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 (as inserted by section 43(c) of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015) now provides for joint guardianship by a man who was not married to the mother of the child and was cohabiting with the mother for not less than 12 consecutive months. This 12 month period must include a period, occurring at any time after the birth of the child, of not less than 3 months during which both the mother and father have lived with the child. In addition, a father who is not married to the child's mother and does not satisfy the cohabitation requirements may become a guardian if the parents jointly make a statutory declaration appointing him as a guardian. It is also open to the father at any stage to make an application to court for guardianship of the child under section 6A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.

The Deputy will be aware that Article 42A.4 of the Constitution requires that provision be made by law that in the resolution of all proceedings concerning the guardianship or custody of, or access to, any child, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.  Section 3 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration for the court in any proceedings where guardianship, custody or upbringing of, or access to, a child is in question.  Section 31 of the 1964 Act sets out a wide range of factors that the court is required to take into account when determining the best interests of the child in such proceedings.  These factors include the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with each of his or her parents.  The courts shall have regard to all of these factors or circumstances that it regards as being relevant to the child concerned and his or her family and make its decision accordingly.

Section 11 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that either parent of a child, whether or not he or she is also a guardian of the child, may apply to court for a direction regarding the custody of a child or the right of access to the child.  Section 11D of the 1964 Act obliges the court in proceedings under section 11 to consider whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with each of his or her parents on a regular basis.

Section 25 of the 1964 Act also requires the court, as it thinks appropriate and practicable, to take into account the child's wishes in guardianship, custody and access matters, having regard to the age and understanding of the child. 

Section 12A of the 1964 Act (inserted by section 58 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015) provides that in making any order under the Act, the court may impose such conditions as it considers to be necessary in the best interests of the child.  It is a matter for the courts when making orders under the 1964 Act in relation to matters such as the guardianship, custody or upbringing of, or access to, a child to determine the best interests of the child and to consider whether or not any conditions should be attached to such orders. 

The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 made provision to assist parents who need to return to court because the other parent has breached a court order in relation to custody of, or access to, a child. Section 56 of the 2015 Act inserted a new section 18A into the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.  This provides that where a parent or guardian of a child has been granted custody of or access to the child under the 1964 Act, but he or she has been unreasonably denied such custody or access by another guardian or parent, that person may apply to court for an enforcement order. 

Court orders in relation to guardianship, custody and access are of course a matter for the courts, which are, subject to the Constitution and the law, independent in the performance of their functions.

Vehicle Registration

Ceisteanna (275)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

275. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of efforts taken by his Department, An Garda Síochána and the relevant tax authorities to resolve a matter further to a reply received in response to representations made by this Deputy on behalf of persons regarding the issue of vehicle registration (details supplied); when this Deputy can expect to receive further correspondence in relation to this matter as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39664/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that appropriate inquiries have been made in respect of this matter and that a response will issue in the coming days.

Asylum Applications Data

Ceisteanna (276)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

276. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum residing here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised that, as of the end of August 2019,  there are 30 applications from unaccompanied minors on hand in the International Protection Office (IPO). All applications for international protection made on behalf of unaccompanied minors are prioritised by the IPO for processing. 

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency has statutory responsibility for the care of any unaccompanied minors in the State. No unaccompanied minors are accommodated by my Department.

Tusla may decide that an application for international protection should be made on behalf of the minor. Where Tusla decides that it is in the best interests of the child that an application for international protection is made on their behalf, specific arrangements will be made by the IPO in conjunction with Tusla for the processing of the application. Tusla will support the minor throughout the process, including attending at their interview.

I am further advised that the IPO has specially trained caseworkers to process applications received from unaccompanied minors.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Ceisteanna (277, 278)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

277. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the work of the cross-Border crime task force; the budget of the task force in 2019; the number of permanent staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39673/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

278. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of meetings of the Joint Agency Taskforce on cross-Border crime held per annum since its inception; and the status of the matter. [39674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 277 and 278 together.

In November 2015, the British and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive agreed a series of measures in the agreement A Fresh Start, The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan, as part of a concerted and enhanced effort to tackle organised and cross jurisdictional crime.

These measures included the creation of the Joint Agency Task Force, which is led by senior officers from An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners and UK (HM) Revenue and Customs. A number of other relevant bodies, including the National Crime Agency and the Criminal Assets Bureau are also involved in operational activity where appropriate. The objective of the Task Force is to build on existing law enforcement frameworks and to increase the collective effectiveness of operational law enforcement actions.

The Strategic Oversight Group of the Task Force is jointly chaired at senior management level by the two police services, to provide strong strategic direction and oversight to front-line operational activities. This group also includes senior personnel from relevant agencies. As a multi-agency coordination structure, the Task Force does not have a separate staffing complement or budget. Personnel from the participating agencies in both jurisdictions are assigned for specific operations and other capacities from the relevant agencies are deployed as required by operational demands.

The Task Force has made strong progress in tackling cross-border criminal activity across a range of crime areas. These include not just traditional smuggling activities, but also rural and farm crimes, organised burglary and drug crime.

The multi-agency nature of the Task Force is critical to its success. It is a strong example of the extensive North-South cooperation between the police, customs services and other law enforcement agencies involved in tackling crime and enhancing the safety of all communities on both sides of the border. The Task Force complements both the ongoing formal and informal co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, as well as specific joint investigations which take place when individual crime incidents with a cross border dimension occur, such as the one underway into a recent horrific case of abduction and assault.

Last week, together with the Garda Commissioner, the Chief Constable of the PSNI, senior officers from all the agencies and senior officials from Department of Justice Northern Ireland and my own Department, I attended the 17th Cross Border Conference on Organised Crime in Co. Cavan. This is an annual event, aimed at enhancing cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, particularly in relation to cross border organised criminality and related issues. Operational members of the Task Force came together at the conference, which provided an opportunity to consider in detail the necessary improvements and innovations, including international co-operation. While the work of the Task Force is reviewed as part of the annual cross border conference on organised crime, there is ongoing multiagency engagement in relation to operations to tackle cross border crime.

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (279)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

279. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to prohibit the use of sponsorship on children’s replica jerseys when that sponsor is a gambling company or promotes gambling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39717/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy raises an interesting issue with regard to sponsors names carried on replica jerseys. Such jerseys are popular with both adults and children.

My understanding is that most Irish based professional sports clubs do not feature jersey sponsorship from licenced gambling companies. However, the same cannot be said for English Premiership football clubs. Such clubs have large followings in Ireland and feature regularly on television. However, the primary television companies in this regard are not based in this jurisdiction.  

The Deputy will appreciate that I have no statutory function in regard to the selling of replica shirts or the sponsors mentioned thereon. I am not aware of any specific statutory provision that regulates what sponsors names might be legally carried on such jerseys. Any potential prohibitions applying to only certain business activities might invite court challenge.

I am sure that the Deputy would agree with me that if parents or guardians have concerns about the business activities of the team sponsors, they should make their views known to the sports clubs in question.

Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (280)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

280. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to threats by a group (details supplied) to shut down Dublin city centre for a week in October 2019; the action he plans to take in relation to this possibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39730/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources. The Commissioner and his management team also have responsibility for the operational management of An Garda Síochána.

The Deputy will appreciate that the management of major public events and public demonstrations is an operational matter appropriate to An Garda Síochána. As Minister for Justice and Equality, I have no role in such matters.

I would point out that the statutory functions of An Garda Síochána include the preservation of peace and public order, protecting life and property and vindicating the human rights of individuals. I further understand that An Garda Síochána always endeavour as best they can to facilitate peaceful protests and demonstrations. This is clearly evidenced by the many peaceful demonstrations and protests that take place around the country on a variety of issues of public interest, including large demonstrations.

The Deputy will also be aware that An Garda Síochána also plays a vital role in developing traffic management plans, to coincide with major events including demonstrations, where relevant. I understand that traffic management plans are developed, where required for large-scale events and plans are published by the Garda authorities on the news section of An Garda Síochána's homepage.

An Garda Síochána's Operational Support Services units also provide invaluable specialist support to Gardaí throughout the country in respect of a broad range of operational functions; units include the Mounted Support Unit and the Air Support Unit.

I hope this information is helpful to the Deputy.

Asylum Seeker Employment

Ceisteanna (281)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

281. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of asylum seekers that sought permission to access the labour market; the number of successful applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39735/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, which came into effect from 30 June 2018, provide access to the labour market for eligible international protection applicants. The Regulations provide a wide access to both employment and self-employment in almost all sectors and categories of employment. There are a small number of exceptions, such as the Irish Civil and Public Service, An Garda Siochana and the Irish Defence Forces, due to their eligibility requirement of long-term residence or citizenship in the State.

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that, since the introduction of the 2018 Regulations, a total of 4,697 international protection applicants have applied for a permission to access the labour market. Of those, 3,179 were granted a permission and 1,367 were refused as ineligible.  The table below sets out the figures in more detail.

Granted 

3,179 

Ineligible 

1,367 

Pending* 

151 

Total 

4,697 

 

 * The pending figure includes applications which have not yet reached 9 months, and those awaiting the return of requested supporting documents.  

Penalty Points System Offences

Ceisteanna (282)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

282. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the non-surrender of driver licences and the lack of prosecutions of those taken to court for this offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39759/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Approximately 95% of all penalty point offences are endorsed by the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) on driver licences every year. This is an exceptional rate of endorsement.

Over 85% of penalty point offence records are received directly from An Garda Síochána, when the offender opts to pay the fixed charge amount and accept the penalty points. The remainder - the minority - are received from the Courts Service, following convictions.

Nonetheless, I am acutely aware of the road traffic enforcement challenges that result from the non-surrender of driving licences.

In the case of roadside intercept detections, members of An Garda Síochána can record the driving licence details obtained at the point of interception. This can ultimately be used to apply penalty points, should there be a conviction. In such instances, the recording of a licence in court may not be necessary.

However, an issue may still arise where the licence details are not obtained at the point of interception. For example, in the case of non-intercept speed camera detections, the registration of the vehicle is captured on detection. If a driver does not pay his/her Fixed Charge Notice and is subsequently convicted, his/her licence details should be recorded in Court in accordance with section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 2016. Unfortunately, there are instances when the Court is unable to record licence details, for example when licences are reported to the Court as lost or forgotten, or where persons are convicted of speeding while also driving without a licence. There are also some drivers who wilfully choose not to attend Court and are convicted in absentia. Again, there is no licence to record in these cases.

In cases where a licence is not provided, I understand that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has the facility, in certain instances, to look up the National Vehicle and Driver File and successfully apply penalty points, based on exact matching against the offence's vehicle registration details.

I can also confirm to the Deputy that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Road Safety Authority, the Courts Service and An Garda Síochána met in August to discuss road traffic enforcement and that the non-production of driving licences was one of the matters discussed at this meeting.

The Criminal Justice (Fixed Charge Processing System (FCPS)) Working Group, chaired by officials from both my Department and Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and attended by the Courts Service among other agencies, actively monitors progress and relevant developments in the area of road traffic enforcement. I have asked my officials to meet with Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Courts Service via this forum to discuss how the process of obtaining driver information upon conviction is currently operating under section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 2016. The Working Group will meet during October and I can confirm to the Deputy that this important enforcement issue will be discussed. I am happy to update the Deputy further after the appropriate meeting has taken place.

The Deputy may also be aware that the Master Licence Record programme, established by Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, is implementing further measures to assist in endorsement of penalty points by matching vehicle and driver records on the NVDF. This project will go some way to addressing the issue of 'unmatched offences' by matching vehicle and driver records on the NVDF, and, over time, by establishing owner identity for all vehicle records. I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Shane Ross, T.D., who has responsibility for road traffic legislation that, due to legislative and operational issues, full population of the Master Licence Record Programme is likely to take several years.

However, it is important to acknowledge that there will be always be complex scenarios when attempting to endorse driving licences in respect of road traffic offences; for example, instances where the vehicle owner is not driving at the time of an offence, or when an offending vehicle is owned by a company. It is equally important to note that disqualified drivers constitute a major component of those who do not surrender driving licences.

Finally, the Deputy may be aware that Minister Ross has proposed the amendment of section 40 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 to remove the existing Garda discretion to allow a driver 10 days in which to produce his/her licence/learner permit at a Garda station and, as a result, to provide for the mandatory carry of licence/permit. This proposal will be discussed further over the coming period.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (283)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

283. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the development of the new Garda station in Clonmel, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39783/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to €92 million this year. These resources are being provided in support of 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.

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

The Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 programme is based on agreed Garda priorities. It continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by significant Exchequer funding across the Garda and OPW Votes. In addition to that programme, other major ongoing works to the Garda estate include the pilot Garda station reopening project, the development of a new facility at Military Road and the major refurbishment of Fitzgibbon Street station. The clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff, as well as the public interacting with them.

The Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement included in the Building and Refurbishment Programme is intended to deliver new stations in Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel. The OPW has agreed to provide its expert services in the design of the three stations in question.

PPP projects are progressed under the auspices of the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA). My Department, An Garda Síochána, the OPW and the NDFA are working closely in order to progress this project.

The establishment of PPP projects can be complex and it is vital to get the projects right at the planning and design stage. Pending delivery of the new stations, I am informed that Garda management and the OPW have been working to improve conditions and facilities at the existing stations in Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel.

Legal Aid Service Data

Ceisteanna (284)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

284. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the costs incurred for the provision of criminal and civil legal aid since 1 January 2018 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39784/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, arrangements for the provision of legal aid differ between Civil Legal Aid and Criminal Legal Aid and I will deal with each in turn in responding to his question.

Criminal Legal Aid

Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, it is the Courts, through the judiciary, that are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for criminal legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the Court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation for him/herself. The Court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the gravity of the charge or exceptional circumstances, it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid.

Statistics for expenditure on criminal legal aid are not compiled in a manner allowing expenditure to be readily identifies on a county-by-county basis. Expenditure on criminal legal aid in each of the years 20181 to 2019 (June 2019) is set out in the following table:

Year Expenditure €m

2018

64.806

2019 (June 2019)

31.273 (June 2019)

I am advised by the Courts Service that it is not possible to provide statistics in respect of the refusal of applications for criminal legal aid by the courts.

Civil Legal Aid

The provision of civil legal aid in the State is delivered by the Legal Aid Board pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 to 2017. The Board operates 30 full time law centres and a number of part time law centres in Ireland. The Board also provides mediation services to help separating couples to negotiate their own agreement.

The majority of the Board's income consists of a grant received from my Department. This funding is used to provide the Board's services in all its offices across the country, as well as the support services provided to law centres centrally from the Board's head office.

As with criminal legal aid, it is not possible to extract and isolate the total cost of civil legal aid in any one office or county in a given year. To do so, it would be necessary to devise a basis on which to attribute, to each county, all expenditure incurred by the Legal Aid Board centrally. Complexities may also arise at local level, for example a client living in County Limerick may choose to apply for legal aid to Ennis Law Centre. It is also important to note that in a case where two parties to a dispute seek the services of the Board at one law centre, one of the parties concerned will be required to engage with a different law centre, which may be in a neighbouring county.

However funding provided to the Legal Aid Board by my Department for the years 2018-2019 is set out in the following table:

Year Budget Allocation €m

2018

40.275

2019

40.796