Questions Nos. 147 and 148 answered with Question No. 140.

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (149)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

149. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made regarding the dangerous use of scrambler and quad bikes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42630/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I would like to begin by stating clearly that my officials, alongside their colleagues in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and An Garda Síochána, are striving to find solutions to this complex policing issue.  

As I have outlined in previous Parliamentary responses, a cross-agency group has been examining the misuse of scramblers. This process has involved my Department, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Housing, Planning and Local Government and Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, as well as An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority, the Revenue Commissioners and representatives of local authorities.  

On foot of advice from the Office of the Attorney General, it was agreed by all attendees at the last meeting of the group that, in the main, current legislative provisions appeared to be sufficient. Nonetheless it was also agreed that the group would remain open to considering workable legislative solutions to any specific legislative gaps specifically identified by An Garda Síochána. 

My officials wrote to the Garda Commissioner to seek his formal views on the matter. A response was received on 28 June and has since been shared with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, as a primary contributor to the work of the cross-agency group. The response from the Office of the Garda Commissioner does suggest potential legislative changes which the organisation believes could assist in improving policing in this area. 

These proposals are receiving detailed consideration in my Department and will be further scrutinised to ascertain whether they can be progressed alongside targeted enforcement measures, awareness raising and youth engagement, which will be key to success in combatting this behaviour.

Garda Reorganisation

Ceisteanna (150)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

150. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the selection of Mullingar as the Garda divisional headquarters for the new counties Meath and Westmeath area; when the new division will become operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42648/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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

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

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

The new model is specifically designed to provide a more responsive, localised policing service.  It re-organises resources around the delivery of front-line policing, placing an increased emphasis on engaging with communities and supporting victims of crime. 

There will be much greater community engagement in the new model, including a dedicated Superintendent leading the community engagement team in Divisions. By contrast, in the old District model, Superintendents would have been balancing this important work with competing priorities such as the investigation of major crime. 

I am informed by the Commissioner a number of considerations were taken into account in developing the new model and the restructuring of Divisions, including population, geography, projected growth, crime trends and workload across a range of work streams.   

Under the new model, the existing Meath and Westmeath Divisions will be merged and will form part of the Eastern Garda Region with the new Meath/Westmeath Divisional Headquarters to be situated in Mullingar.  

I am informed by the Commissioner that in light of the new structures, An Garda Síochána is undertaking a review of accommodation requirements, including Mullingar Garda Station.  I am informed that the need for new or additional Garda accommodation or facilities in Mullingar will be considered in the context of that review. 

As the Deputy may be aware, the Commissioner last week announced the first 5 Divisions were the new Model will be implemented - Meath/Westmeath will be among these first Divisions, alongside Galway, Cork City, Dublin South Central and Limerick.

I understand that the new model will be implemented on a phased basis throughout 2020. 

Finally, it may be noted that these changes are being introduced at a time of record investment in An Garda Síochána. €1.76 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to € 92 million this year. I am pleased to have secured an overall increase of €122 million to increase An Garda Síochána’s budget for 2020 to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for next year in addition to €116million in capital investment.  This level of funding will allow the Garda Commissioner to recruit up to 700 new Gardaí next year and additional Garda staff. 

I am confident that this ongoing investment in Garda resources together with the ongoing reform process will result in an improved policing service for all communities, urban and rural, now and into the future.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (151)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

151. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in direct provision by county in tabular form; the length of time they have been in direct provision; the supports being made available to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42681/19]

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 utilities and healthcare etc.) to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their claim is being examined.

A whole-of-Government approach to direct provision means that several Government Departments and Agencies work closely together to ensure the necessary supports and services are provided to persons in direct provision. My Department offers accommodation and related services; the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection pays a weekly personal allowance to each resident and covers any exceptional needs; the Department of Education and Skills provide school places for children resident in the centres and provides that children also have access to the free pre-school scheme, the Early Childhood Care and Education Programme; and the HSE provides mainstreamed health services to residents.

I am advised by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) of my Department that as of 13 October 2019, there are 6,066 people residing in 38 accommodation centres in the State, the locations of which are set out in the following table.

As these centres are currently operating at full capacity, there are also a further 1,478 people being accommodated in emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses. My Department does not disclose the location of emergency accommodation centres in order to protect the identity of international protection applicants.  

IPAS Accommodation (as of 13 October 2019)

COUNTY

LOCATION

ADDRESS

CURRENT OCCUPANCY

Dublin

Balseskin

St. Margarets, Finglas, Dublin 11

 433

Clare

Knockalisheen

Meelick

 245

 

King Thomond

The Bog Road, Lisdoonvarna

 127

Cork

Ashbourne House

Glounthaune

 89

 

Davis Lane

73-75 Davis Street, Mallow, Co. Cork

 57

 

Kinsale Road

Cork

 277

 

Glenvera

Wellington Road

 124

 

Millstreet

Millstreet

 300

 

Clonakilty Lodge

Clonakilty, Co. Cork

 108

Dublin

The Towers

The Ninth Lock, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

 236

Galway

Eglington

The Proms, Salthill

 195

 

Great Western House

Eyre Square

 146

Kerry

Atlas House (Killarney)

Killarney

 90

 

Atlas House (Tralee)

Tralee

 100

 

Atlantic Lodge

Kenmare

 91

 

Johnston Marina

Tralee

 81

 

Linden House

New Road, Kilarney

 55

 

Park Lodge

Killarney

 44

Kildare

Hazel

Dublin Road, Monasterevin

 120

 

Eyrepowell

Newbridge

 139

Laois

Hibernian Hotel

Main Street, Abbeyleixm, Co. Laois

 51

 

Montague

Emo, Portlaoise

 206

Limerick

Hanratty's

Glentwirth Street, Limerick

 117

 

Mount Trenchard

Foynes, Co. Limerick

 83

Longford

Richmond Court

Richmond Street, Longford

 79

Louth

Carroll Village

Dundalk

 71

Mayo

The Old Convent

Ballyhaunis

 217

Meath

Mosney

Mosney

 735

Monaghan

St. Patricks

Monaghan

 214

Sligo

Globe House

Chapel Hill

 199

Tipperary

Bridgewater House

Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary

 152

Waterford

Atlantic House

Tramore, Co. Waterford

 80

 

Ocean View

Tramore, Co. Waterford

 99

 

Birchwood

Ballytruckle Road

 147

 

Viking House

Coffee House Lane

 81

Wicklow

The Grand Hotel

Abbey Street, Wicklow

 93

Westmeath

Temple Accommodation

Horseleap, Moate, Westmeath

 89

 

Athlone

Athlone

 296

Length of Stay of IPAS Applicants in Direct Provision (as of 11 October 2019)

BY MONTH

BY NUMBER OF APPLICANTS

0>3

1073

3>6

810

6>9

629

9>12

614

12>18

1009

18>24

918

24>36

844

36>48

766

48>60

528

60>72

188

72>84

71

84+

116

TOTAL

7566

In relation to the length of time applicants spend in the international protection process, while some individuals may live for many years in direct provision centres, these are generally applicants who have received previous negative decisions and are exercising their right to appeal through the courts.

My Department has introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing the time taken to determine applications. The International Protection Act, 2015, introduced the single procedure process for the determination of protection applications. Under the single procedure all elements of a person's protection claim (refugee status, subsidiary protection status and permission to remain) are considered together rather than sequentially. The aim of the single procedure is to help reduce waiting times significantly.

An applicant who applies for international protection today can expect to receive a first instance recommendation/decision within approximately 15 months, provided that no complications arise. Prioritised cases are being processed in just under 9 months. Prioritised applications include those from countries such as Syria and Eritrea and from especially vulnerable groups of applicants, such as unaccompanied minors.  My Department is aiming to reduce processing times for all first instance decisions to 9 months by the end of this year.

Garda Information and Communications Technology

Ceisteanna (152)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

152. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the increasing use of facial recognition technology; and the regulations that exist regarding the use of facial recognition. [42685/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department recognises the value of the technology referred to by the Deputy. I am also aware of the misgivings of some groups in respect of the potential for misuse of the technology.

As the Deputy may be aware, the EU Data Protection Law Enforcement Directive permits data to be retained once it is lawful and fair and for a specific law enforcement purpose. It is important that our national law keeps pace with technological developments and this is being considered in the context of legislation currently being developed as I am determined to ensure that Ireland is fully equipped to combat the rapid developments in all forms of crime and terrorism.

A facial recognition system is a technology capable of identifying or verifying a person from a digital image either from a passport or passport card. My Department’s Immigration Service operate automated border control “eGates” at Dublin Airport which utilise facial recognition technology in order to “match” arriving passengers with the photograph contained on the chip in their passport.

The installation of the vb i-match™ ABC eGate biometric solution has created a visible clearance option for passengers holding eligible e-Passports or the Irish Passport Identification Cards. In fact, vb i-match™ ABC reads and authenticates both Passports and Irish Passport cards in addition to guaranteeing that only legitimate passengers cross the border. Systems such as these are now used in border control areas all over the world.

I am aware that the European Commission has been looking at the use of facial recognition more closely in recent times and has made recommendations in this regard in respect of the use of the technology in developing Schengen area border controls and in systems to support police and law enforcement to capture criminals and terrorists. These systems are also used to assist in identifying the location of missing children and vulnerable adults, in line with the EU’s data protection rules.

I am also aware that the EU are considering new regulations in this area that will give EU citizens explicit rights over the use of their facial recognition data. I understand that the aim is to limit the indiscriminate use of facial recognition technology by companies and public authorities.

While Ireland does not generally participate in the Schengen systems, my officials are monitoring these developments closely for consideration of any policy or legislative amendments that may be useful and/or necessary in the future.

Courts Service Data

Ceisteanna (153)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

153. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 646 of 6 September 2019, the number of persons summoned to court in respect of the offence of driving without a driver licence in each of the years 2016 to 12 July 2019 by District Court area. [42690/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have referred this question to the Courts Service. The Courts Service have advised they are compiling the requested information and will respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

If the Deputy has not heard from the Courts Service in 21 days, please contact my office. 

Traveller Community

Ceisteanna (154)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

154. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the specific supports available for members of the Traveller community in Balbriggan, County Dublin; the additional supports and-or investment planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42760/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Government is committed to improving the quality of life of members of the Travelling community. As the Deputy will be aware, In June 2017, the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2021 (NTRIS) was published. The Strategy represents a whole of Government approach to bring about meaningful change and progress for the Traveller and Roma community in Ireland.  It brings Government Departments and Agencies together along with representatives of both Traveller and Roma communities to bring a focus to the issues which affect them most in a structured way. I chair the quarterly meetings of the NTRIS Steering Group, which held its most recent meeting on Wednesday 16 October, 2019.

My Department has allocated €3.9m in funding in 2020 to support a range of Traveller and Roma projects including the provision of core funding to both local and national representative groups. 

In 2019, recipients of Department funding to Traveller projects and NGOs included the Traveller counselling service and an education pilot. The Traveller mediation service was approved funding of €250,000 from the Dormant Accounts Fund. Some €25,000 was allocated from the budget to fund the Traveller Pride awards and concert event. The education pilot received €350,000 funding for 2019. The special initiative for Travellers has seven locations around Ireland and overall funding for these projects in 2019 was €410,000.

While the Department of Justice and Equality is not currently providing funding for specific supports for the Traveller community in Balbriggan and there are no additional supports or investment planned at this time, my Department is considering the possibility of running Open Calls for funding equality programmes in the future.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (155)

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

155. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of official current and former Garda residences in the Galway Garda division by the number occupied and the vacant, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. The Commissioner also has responsibility for the management and efficient use of resources, having regard to operational need. As Minister I have no role in this matter.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. As a result, all works to the Garda estate involve close cooperation between the OPW and the Garda authorities.  Major capital investment has been made in the Garda estate in recent years, to provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff, as well as the public interacting with them.  

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table outlines the current list of official Garda residences (as opposed to stations) in the Galway Garda Division, including confirmation of whether these residences are occupied or vacant.

County

Address

Current Position

Galway

Ardrahan

Occupied

Galway

Athenry

Vacant

Galway

Ballygar

Occupied

Galway

Carna

Occupied

Galway

Carrraroe

Occupied

Galway

Eyrecourt

Occupied

Galway

Inverin

Occupied

Galway

Kilchrest

Occupied

Galway

Kilcolgan

Occupied

Galway

Killimor

Occupied

Galway

Kiltullagh

Vacant

Galway

Letterfrack

Occupied

Galway

LoughGeorge

Vacant

Galway

Monivea

Occupied

Galway

Moycullen

Occupied

Galway

Moylough

Occupied

Galway

New Inn

Occupied

Galway

Portumna

Occupied

Galway

Recess

Vacant

Galway

Rosmuc

Occupied

Galway

Tynagh

Occupied

Galway

Corofin G.S, Corofin, Galway

Vacant

Galway

Creggs

Occupied

I would point out that the Garda Commissioner has informed me that Garda numbers in the Galway Division have increased from a total of 560 at the end of 2015 to 625 as of 31 August 2019.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 Garda recruits have attested and been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Another 200 Garda recruits are due to attest before the end of this year.  We now have over 14,200 Garda members supported by over 2,700 Garda staff nationwide and we are making real tangible progress on the Government's plan to reach an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 including 15,000 Garda members and 4,000 civilians.

The unprecedented funding of €1.882 billion provided to An Garda Síochána in Budget 2020 will allow for the recruitment of up to 700 new Gardaí and additional Garda staff next year. This ongoing recruitment will provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible, effective and responsive policing service in communities nationwide.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (156)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

156. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42872/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there were no capital projects costing €100 million or more completed by my Department in the past five years.

Within agencies under my Department, I am advised by the Courts Service that one project cost in excess of €100m. This was the public-private partnership project delivered as part of the Government's Infrastructure Stimulus Programme, through which new, refurbished or extended courthouses were delivered in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, Letterkenny, Mullingar and Drogheda at a notional capital cost of approximately €150m. This project was delivered in full in 2018, and was on a design, build, finance, operate and maintain basis.

I have requested that the Courts Service respond directly to the Deputy with further details in respect of this project, in particular with respect to the costs of outside consultants.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (157)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

157. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42888/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no capital projects scheduled to commence in the next five years costing €100 million or more from this Department or its agencies.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (158)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedure to be followed in order to update stamp 4 in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42892/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am informed by the Immigration Service of my Department that the onus rests with the person concerned to keep their permission in the State up to date. The person mentioned by the Deputy must make an appointment with the local immigration officer in their district in order to update their permission.  

Comprehensive information on the process is available on the website of the Immigration Service of my Department - www.inis.ie

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.

Succession Act

Ceisteanna (159)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which legislative provision exists to prevent third parties inveigling themselves into the confidence of vulnerable persons and subsequently becoming beneficiaries of their will; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Part VII of the Succession Act 1965 sets out the following legal requirements for the making of a valid will, as follows:

- It must be in writing;

- The testator must be over 18 years of age (the testator may be under 18 if he or she is or has been married);

- The testator must be of sound mind;

- The testator must sign or mark the will in the presence of two witnesses;

- The two witnesses must sign the will in the testator's presence;

- The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will;

- The witnesses must see the testator sign the will;

- The signature of the testator must be at the end of the will.

These statutory provisions, as interpreted by the superior courts in relevant case law, provide robust safeguards in relation to the validity of wills.

It is, of course, possible for a person to commence legal proceedings challenging a will on the grounds of either the diminished capacity of the testator to make a valid will, or the testator's ability to make decisions freely in disposing of their property by will.

When determining whether or not a testator had the capacity to make a will, courts will generally consider whether they understood the nature of the act of making the will and its effect, and whether the testator understood the extent of the property of which they were disposing.

Where undue influence is alleged, the law places the burden of proving such undue influence on the person alleging it. In order to succeed, the court must be satisfied that:

(a) The person alleged to exert the influence had the power or opportunity to do so;

(b) Undue influence was in fact exerted; and

(c) The will was the product of that influence.

While I have no current plans to amend legislation in this area, the operation of the relevant legislation is kept under review by my Department.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (160)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

160. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current and-or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the processing of the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. Should further documentation be required it will be requested from the applicant in due course. A letter issued to the legal representatives of the person concerned on 26 February 2019 and the position remains as stated in that letter.

I am further advised, however, that the Immigration Service records indicate that the current permission to reside in the State granted to the person concerned expired on 19 March 2019.  It is up to the person concerned to seek permission to remain beyond the expiry of their current permission.  All non-EEA nationals are required to keep their permission to remain in the State up to date at all times, and to have such permission registered.  Failure to do so may adversely affect an application for a certificate of naturalisation. 

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (161)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

161. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the entitlement accruing to the holder of stamp 3 residency status in situations in which the parent of the applicant is a holder of stamp 5 status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy may be aware that there is comprehensive information on immigration permissions on the Immigration Service website - www.inis.ie

However, for the ease of the Deputy, I can advise that 'Without condition as to Time' (Stamp 5) is placed in the passport of an individual who has completed 8 years (96 months) of legal residency in Ireland. The stamp is valid to the expiry of the non EEA passport in which it is placed.  Applications are only accepted from applicants, whose current permission to remain is due to expire in the next six months. Student permission to remain in the State is not reckonable for this scheme. As this is a Ministerial scheme, successful applicants must not have come to the adverse attention of An Garda Siochana, or be an undue burden on the State.

 The holder of a stamp 3 is permitted to remain in Ireland on the basis that they are dependent on another person who is lawfully resident in the State. The holder of a stamp 3 permission is not permitted to work or claim any State welfare benefits. For example, a Stamp 3 permission can be issued to a  dependent person of a Non EEA national who holds a work permit in the State.  After 8 years they may apply for Stamp 5 permission to remain in the State in their own right.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (162)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

162. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if favourable consideration will be given in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42904/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the visa application referred to was refused by the Visa Office in Dublin  on 14 March 2019 and the reasons were outlined to the person concerned. A visa appeal application was received on 18 April 2019 in the Dublin Visa Office. This appeal will be given full consideration and a decision will issue in due course.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility, which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (163)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

163. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the most appropriate way to proceed towards extended residency and-or stamp 4 status in the case of a person (details supplied); if the person may qualify for a work permit in order to complete their education and proceed to employment through that route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the person referred to is registered as a student on stamp 2 conditions until the 23rd of July 2020. There is no route for a person on Stamp 2 permission to apply to the Immigration Service for a change of status to Stamp 4 permission for the purpose of entering full time employment.

The person referred to by the Deputy should contact the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with regard to their eligibility to apply for a work permit.

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.

Workplace Relations Commission

Ceisteanna (164)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

164. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will report on the audit of working conditions in the film industry which is being carried out by the Workplace Relations Commission. [42688/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is currently examining industrial relations in the Irish film industry, following a joint approach by ICTU, SIPTU and Screen Producers Ireland (SPI).

The WRC audit will be examining industrial relations generally, employment practices and procedure, assessing issues arising, if any, and making recommendations for their improvement.  The WRC audit is accepting submissions from interested parties on matters relating to industrial relations and employment matters generally in the film industry up to 31 October 2019.

As the WRC consultation process is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.

Brexit Expenditure

Ceisteanna (165)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

165. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the breakdown of the composition of each measure foreseen to be activated under the fund following the announcement in budget 2020 of a €45 million support fund for workers affected by Brexit. [42834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

As outlined in the Budget last week, the Government is putting in place an additional contingency package of over €1billion for Brexit supports for the coming year.  This contingency will ensure that an initial provision of €110m will be available to my Department and our Enterprise and Regulatory Agencies to provide targeted supports to impacted businesses in the immediate aftermath should there be a no deal Brexit outcome.  The provision will also allow for additional tranches of supports to be provided to meet actual needs as the impacts of a No Deal develop.

My Department has responsibility for provision of a number of supports in this regard, including the following:

Rescue and Restructuring Fund – €42 million

This fund is for the worst-case scenario. It will rescue firms with acute liquidity or insolvency problems and support them to put a restructuring plan in place to adjust to their new reality with investment support potentially of up to €10m under state aid rules for firms of all sizes depending on circumstances.

Transition Fund – €45 million

This Fund will support businesses in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector, ranging from food and engineering firms to business process outsourcing firms. It will help those businesses to adapt their business model as needed and adjust to the new trading reality. It is targeted at businesses with 10 or more employees.

Transformation Fund - €8 million

This Fund will be administered by Enterprise Ireland. It will be provided as non-refundable grants supporting larger indigenous firms to transform their business to develop new products and processes, to achieve a step-up in levels of competitiveness and innovation and to assist in diversifying to new markets. There will be initial funding of €5 million for primary food processing companies and €3 million for non-food companies, for example, in traditional engineering sectors. Additional funding for food transformation is also being made available through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Emergency Brexit Fund for Micro Enterprises - LEO repayable grants – €5 million

The LEOs will operate a new “Micro-Enterprise Emergency Brexit Fund”.

The funding will be provided in the form of a repayable grant worth up to €50,000 through the LEOs, without interest applying and flexible repayment terms determined by agreement with the LEO, which is how the LEOs currently provide grants.

It is important to reiterate that these supports are designed to mitigate the negative impacts of a No Deal Brexit and will only be activated if no agreement is reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

In addition to the supports listed above, in the event of a No Deal Brexit it is envisioned that €45 million will be provided to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. The breakdown of the composition of each measure to be activated under the fund is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (166)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

166. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the proposal from a union (details supplied) that workers should have the right to disconnect from work related telephone and digital communications outside of working hours. [42689/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department and I understand the importance of promoting a good work-life balance for employees. This is addressed under Pillar 4 of the Government's Future Jobs Ireland strategy. Pillar 4 is focussed on increasing participation in the labour force as this will lead to the more equitable, balanced and sustainable development of Ireland’s workforce.

Pillar 4 of Future Jobs Ireland outlines a number of key ambitions and deliverables to help to increase participation in the labour force. A number of these ambitions are centred on flexible working solutions which offer potential benefits for employers, employees and wider society in general. Flexible working encompasses a wide range of practices including part-time, compressed hours, job sharing, home-working and remote working. Such solutions allow for tangible benefits for employees including improving their work-life balance. It also provides solutions for those who would otherwise take unpaid parental leave but cannot afford to do so.

There are a number of key deliverables under Pillar 4 with the objective of fostering participation in the labour force through flexible working solutions. These include deliverables such as holding a national consultation on flexible working options, the development of guidance for employers on family-friendly working options, and the extension of unpaid Parental Leave.

A further deliverable under this Pillar is the completion of research on remote working. My Department is currently leading on this research which focusses on understanding the prevalence and types of remote working arrangements within the Irish workforce and the attitudes towards such arrangements. The research will also identify the influencing factors for both employers and employees partaking in remote working.

This research will include desk research, a national employee survey, and one-on-one consultation with key stakeholders. The recent report published by the Financial Services Union on the impact of technology on employees will be considered as a part of this process. The research will also include an international policy review which will consider the ‘right to disconnect’, as currently in place in France, in order to understand the impacts of this on remote working. A further input to this project will be the results arising from a Remote Working Stakeholder Forum which I held in the Cavan Digital Hub on 18 July.

The research will be completed in Q4 of this year and will be published shortly thereafter.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (167)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

167. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she will provide all correspondence between her, her office and her advisers and the IDA in January 2019. [42788/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

It has not, in the time available, been possible to provide the requested correspondence from the period in question. My Department is currently collating the correspondence and will provide copies of same to the Deputy as soon as practicable.

Health and Safety Authority Data

Ceisteanna (168)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

168. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount allocated in budget 2020 to the Health and Safety Authority for farm safety initiatives in 2020; and the 2019 allocation and funds spent to date. [42848/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The allocation of funding for the Health and Authority in 2020 has yet to be finalised but the Deputy can be assured that within its allocation the Health and Safety Authority will continue to focus on the agricultural sector in its efforts to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities.

In relation to 2019, the Health and Safety Authority, at this stage, anticipates that the overall expenditure on specific agricultural sector initiatives will be approximately €488,500 with over €400,000 spent to-date (some of this expenditure includes some cross-sectoral initiatives).

This funding has enabled the roll-out of a number of the initiatives, which involved the organisation of, participation in, or support of a range of agriculture related events such as the National Ploughing Championship and the Tullamore Show as well as media coverage which included the roll out of new TV and Radio advertisements. This is in addition to two targeted media campaigns to raise awareness of key farm risks, with both a national and a local focus and three focused inspection campaigns. The first campaign focused on Livestock Handling, the second campaign was on Farm Tractor & Vehicle Safety and the third focused on Working at Height and Maintenance.

In addition to these specific farm safety campaigns or initiatives, visits to farms involve routine unannounced inspections to monitor compliance within a range health and safety regulations and to investigate farm accidents

The priority tasks for the Authority in relation to engagement with the farming sector for 2019 include:

- Continuing awareness campaigns through the media, events and advertising targeted at the agricultural sector and the roll out of new TV and Radio ad;

- Promotion of good health for farmers;

- Publication of new information sheet on essential tractor safety checks and guidance on steps to manage risks in confined spaces;

- Increase take up of e-learning now available for slurry handling, tractor and machinery safety and for child safety on the farm;

The farming sector has consistently been the most dangerous sector in which to work.  In accordance with its strategy for 2019–2021, the Health and Safety Authority has identified the agricultural sector as a priority sector.

In terms of 2020 and onwards the Deputy might wish to note that the Farm Safety Partnership which is an advisory committee to the Health and Safety Authority is currently preparing a new Programme of Work.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (169, 170)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

169. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of capital projects that cost €100 million or more in the past five years; the cost of outside consultants for each of the projects costing €100 million or more; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

170. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of capital projects anticipated to commence in the next five years that cost €100 million or more; the expected cost of external consultants for each project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42877/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169 and 170 together.

I would advise the Deputy that capital expenditure by my Department is mainly by way of grants to support the multi-annual capital investment programmes of our Enterprise Development and Innovation Agencies.

While certain programmes or funds, for example the €500 million Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, may exceed €100 million in overall cost, there has not been any single project costing more that €100 million in the past five years, nor are there any anticipated to commence in the next five years.

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (171)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

171. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the way in which a person (details supplied) should proceed to achieve stamp 4 or a work permit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The State's general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within Ireland and other EEA countries. Where specific skills prove difficult to source within the State or EEA, an employment permit may be sought by an employer to hire a non-EEA national in line with the Employment Permits Acts and associated Regulations, which lay down in legislation the criteria in elation to the application, grant and refusal of an employment permit.

In order to work in the State all non-EEA nationals require a valid employment permit unless exempt under permission from the Department of Justice and Equality. In order to apply for an employment permit a non-EEA national must have secured a job offer for an eligible occupation from an Irish registered employer.

In order to assist with the application process, the Department has produced a suite of information including various checklist documents, a ‘User Guide' to our online application system and a comprehensive FAQ Document which answers the most common queries received regarding employment permits. All this information, including details on how to apply for an employment permit, can be found in the Employment Permit section of my Department’s website at www.dbei.gov.ie

Any application for an employment permit should comply with all of the legislative requirements for the particular employment permit type, including that the non-EEA national has the required immigration permission at the time of application. Immigration permissions are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, and any such queries should be directed to that Department.