Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (240)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

240. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if An Garda Síochána has a policy for the force with respect to drink and drug testing; if so, if he will provide a copy of the policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the administration and management of An Garda Síochána is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I am informed that An Garda Síochána is developing a Drug and Alcohol Policy which will apply both to Garda members and staff, when finalised. A draft policy has been prepared and is currently being discussed with relevant stakeholders, including the representative bodies and the Garda Chief Medical Officer.

Garda Compensation

Ceisteanna (241)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

241. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if compensation has been paid to civilian members of An Garda Síochána and non-civilian members of the force since 2010; the categories the claims were made under; the legal costs applied; the Vote to which they were attributed; the highest amount of compensation; the average amount of compensation; the longest outstanding claim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46240/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the administration and management of An Garda Síochána is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy. I will write directly to the Deputy once I receive it.

Garda Expenditure

Question No. 243 answered with Question No. 238.

Ceisteanna (242)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

242. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if doctors payments are confined to sworn members of An Garda Síochána; the cost in each of the past five years; if a cap is set for doctor visits; if so, the cap; the framework applied; the controls in place; the way in which the payments are made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46242/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including human resources and personnel matters.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that a new centralised Doctor's Payments Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2012. This scheme applies to serving members of An Garda Síochána only and does not apply to Garda Staff. The administration of the scheme is a matter for the Garda Commissioner rather than for me as Minister.

I am informed that under this Scheme, Garda members can attend a doctor from an established panel. Where a member visits a doctor from the panel they are not required to pay the doctor, but rather the doctor will be paid from a central fund. In order for the doctor to receive payment, the member must complete a certificate of medical attendance at the time of consultation which will be forwarded by the doctor, along with their invoice to An Garda Síochána. All doctors registered on the panel are paid by electronic fund transfer.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that members may still choose to attend any doctor they so wish, regardless of whether the doctor is registered on the panel of doctors. However in the case that members attend a doctor not on the panel, that member must pay the doctor directly for their consultation and subsequently claim reimbursement of the fee involved. Any monies claimed in this way are considered benefit in kind and are subject to both income tax and USSC charges.

For the Deputy's further information, I would add that the Garda authorities have informed me that only consultation fees are covered by the Scheme. Other costs including medicines, blood tests and so on are not covered by the Scheme.

The table below represents the cost of the Doctor's Payment Scheme for the years 2014 to 2018, as provided to me by the Garda Commissioner. I am informed that the details for 2019 have not yet been finalised.

Doctors Payment Fees 2014-2018

Year

Fees Paid

2014

€2,086,694.10

2015

€2,047,904.00

2016

€2,189,008.30

2017

€2,013,425.60

2018

€1,979,134.39

I have requested an An Garda Síochána to confirm the position in relation to the question raised by the Deputy in relation to caps and I will write to her directly on receipt of that information.

Question No. 243 answered with Question No. 238.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (244)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

244. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of sworn members of An Garda Síochána who have been convicted of criminal charges over the past ten years; the number of members to whom salaries have continued to be paid post conviction; the amount in each of the past ten years; the number taken off payroll post conviction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46244/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the administration and management of An Garda Síochána is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy. I will write directly to the Deputy once I receive it.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (245)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

245. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of civilian members of An Garda Síochána that were investigated and subsequently suspended who are in receipt of pay; the years in this regard; the number not in receipt of pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46245/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, disciplinary matters within An Garda Síochána are governed by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 and are a matter for the Garda Commissioner and not for me as Minister.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that 3 Garda staff (civilian) members of An Garda Síochána were investigated and subsequently suspended with pay during the years 2010 to 2019 (to date).

I am advised by the Commissioner that 1 Garda staff member was suspended with pay in 2010. I am further advised that 2 members were suspended with pay in 2018.

I am informed that no Garda staff members were suspended without pay during this period.

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (246)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

246. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank and civilians by grade that make up the anti-corruption unit and the internal affairs unit of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, 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 deployment of personnel and the allocation of resources, as well as decisions taken with regard to the establishment of specialised units within An Garda Síochána. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of personnel and resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.

I understand from the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2019, there are 15 Garda members and 6 Garda staff assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit in An Garda Síochána, which comes under the remit of the Assistant Commissioner Governance and Accountability. I am further informed that Internal Affairs comprises the Discipline, Complaints and Compensations Sections and the GSOC Liaison Office. It should be noted that the complement of Garda members referred to does not include Gardaí assigned to UN/Foreign Service.

The report of the Commission on the Future of Policing, published and endorsed by Government in 2018, provides a clear vision for a modern, highly professional, human-rights based police service. A Policing Service for the Future, the four year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission, was published in December 2018.

Among the actions contained within the Implementation Plan, is the development of a new Anti-Corruption Unit by An Garda Síochána, as part of a revised discipline system. I am informed that this project is currently at the planning stage. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that a Chief Superintendent and Detective Superintendent are carrying out the preliminary work on developing the unit, to ensure that this Unit is developed in line with best international practice. There are currently no Garda staff assigned to the unit.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (247)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

247. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeline for the passing into law of the proposed Bill to address the recent High Court ruling that foreign nationals applying to become Irish citizens on the basis of their residence require a one-year period of residence here that is unbroken, uninterrupted and connected throughout in space or time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46278/19]

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. We await an outcome from the Court of Appeal and 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 a Bill in the Oireachtas as soon as possible this term.

My Department is doing everything possible to develop a legislative solution. At the end of July, I obtained Cabinet approval for a proposed Bill to address the matter and my Department continues to work with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office to finalise the draft Bill.

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, 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.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (248)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

248. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to his Department in Civil Service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46298/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Department of Justice and Equality occupies three offices outside of Dublin: in Tipperary town, Roscrea and Killarney.

- The Residency Division of the Immigration Service is based in Roscrea, Co Tipperary where three out of a total of 20 desks are vacant.

- The Financial Management Unit of my Department shares a building with the National Shared Services Office in Killarney, Co Kerry, where 105 desks are occupied by Departmental staff and none are vacant.

- The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service is located in Tipperary town. A wing of this building is due to be occupied by a Garda branch shortly. The 36 remaining desks are all occupied by staff from my Department and there are no empty desks.

Additionally, some workspaces in these offices are allocated as hot desks or permanently reserved for printing facilities. On that basis, they are not considered empty.

Immigrant Investor Programme Applications

Ceisteanna (249)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

249. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the details of the immigrant investor programme application process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46325/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) was introduced in April 2012 to encourage inward investment and create business and employment opportunities in the State. The programme provides investors with the opportunity to invest in Ireland. Key to the programme is that the investments are beneficial for Ireland, generate or sustain employment and are generally in the public interest.

The IIP provides non-EEA nationals with a number of options to invest in Ireland, and successful applicants are granted a permission to reside in Ireland for a fixed period. An investment of €1 million in projects must be made for a minimum of three years and may be renewable following a review.

There are four steps to the IIP process–

1. The applicant makes an application, without committing any investment funding, on the basis of one of the investment options.

2. The application is assessed by the Evaluation Committee.

3. The applicant makes the investment in accordance with the approved application.

4. The applicant provides evidence that the investment has been made.

Successful applicants under the Immigrant Investment Programme and their nominated family members may be granted a residence permission in Ireland under Stamp 4 conditions. Stamp 4 conditions permit non-EEA nationals to work, study or start their own businesses in Ireland. Therefore, given the significant immigration benefits accruing and to ensure the highest degree of transparency and accountability for the programme, all applications are subject to enhanced levels of due diligence processes in respect of both personal and financial checks, to protect the State's interests.

It is important to note that applications are assessed by an evaluation committee, composed of senior civil and public servants from relevant Irish government departments and Irish state agencies involved in enterprise development in Ireland. Applications are assessed on the basis of the profile of the applicant, the commercial viability of the project, employment outcomes associated with the proposed investment and the overall benefit to the Irish State. The Evaluation Committee makes recommendations to me on those applications that it decides should be accepted and approved under the Programme.

Comprehensive information and guidelines on the IIP is available on my Department's Immigration Service website -

www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/New%20Programmes%20for%20Investors%20and%20Entrepreneurs.

A major external review of the IIP is underway. It is expected that the initial report on Phase 1 will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (250, 251)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

250. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number and type of Garda vehicles in operation in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46328/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

251. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number and type of Garda vehicles in operation in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46329/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 250 and 251 together.

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. He is also responsible for the efficient use of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles across the various 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 so as to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that number and type of Garda vehicles assigned to the Meath and Westmeath Divisions as of 30 September 2019 is set out in the following table.

County

Cars

Vans

Motorcycles

4x4

Others*

Total

Meath

41

12

1

1

0

55

Westmeath

52

15

3

1

2

73

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

Finally, the Deputy may wish to be aware that the resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion, increasing to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020.

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. I understand from the Garda authorities that this year's capital allocation of €10million for the Garda fleet is being used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year. A further €9 million capital funding has been allocated for the Garda fleet in Budget 2020.

This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.

Court Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (252)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

252. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the delivery of the new courthouse for Navan, County Meath, which is included as part of Project Ireland 2040; the timeframe for the delivery of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts and of court buildings is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, however, I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service.

As stated by the Deputy, Navan is included among a number of developments in relation to Courts Service accommodation requirements that are outlined under the Government's National Development Plan 2018-2027 and the overall vision in Project Ireland 2040. The precise allocation and timing of additional funding over the entire ten year period for all of the projects envisaged remains to be fully determined. In relation to Navan, I understand that the Courts Service has not yet identified a suitable site. The question of funding the purchase of any site and a development thereon, in the context of the above plans, will also need to be resolved before any further progress can be made on this issue.

Legislative Process

Ceisteanna (253)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

253. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016; when it is planned to proceed to Report Stage; and the further changes it is planned to make. [46341/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 provides for a number of legislative reforms within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. When Dáil Committee took place on the Bill on 30 January 2019, a number of amendments were agreed which had previously been ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle thus giving rise to a procedural matter. Work is ongoing to resolve this issue.

Work is also being undertaken to prepare further legislative amendments that would be tabled at Dáil Report Stage, including removing references to ‘persons of unsound mind’ from key statutes as such terminology is not considered to be in compliance with the UN Convention.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Expenditure

Ceisteanna (254)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

254. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent on the maintenance and upgrade of Garda CCTV systems in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46359/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that CCTV systems that are installed for the purposes of crime prevention and as aids to policing in public areas, such as town centres, fall into two distinct but complementary categories, namely Garda CCTV systems and community-based CCTV systems. Neither type of CCTV system may be established without authorisation by the Garda Commissioner under section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, among other requirements.

Garda CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of An Garda Síochána's identified operational needs and priorities. Accordingly, decisions in relation to the installation, maintenance and upgrade of Garda CCTV systems are a matter for the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct role in that matter.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the amount spent on maintenance and upgrade of Garda CCTV systems in the years 2016-2019 is set out in the following table.

Year

Spend

2019 (to 6 November)

€806,626

2018

€1,089,334

2017

€1,132,243

2016

€1,651,731

Naturalisation Certificates

Ceisteanna (255)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

255. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of applications (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the applications for a certificate of naturalisation from the persons referred to by the Deputy were received on 28 August 2019. Applications are processed, in the chronological order in which they are received, with a view to establishing whether the applicants meet the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation. The applications will be completed and submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If further documentation is required it will be requested from the applicants in due course.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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

Should the persons have concerns about other matters relating to their immigration permission they should contact the Immigration Office which issued their current permission in order to address the matter.

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 Reorganisation

Ceisteanna (256)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

256. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the date his Department was first informed by An Garda Síochána of its new regional and divisional headquarters as part of the latest restructuring programme under its new operating model; if his Department was provided with previous iterations of the regional and divisional headquarters prior to this; if so, the dates concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46379/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I have warmly welcomed the announcement by the Garda Commissioner of a new Operating Model of An Garda Síochána.

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

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

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

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

I was informed of the Commissioner's decision about the location of the new Divisional and Regional Headquarters on the morning of 25 September, shortly before the official announcement. Neither I nor my officials were previously consulted in relation to the choice of those locations - in accordance with the law, the decision on the location of Garda Divisional and Regional Headquarters is and was solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team. This is the case in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, under which the allocation of Garda resources and deployment of Garda personnel are for the Commissioner. As recently as December 2018, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in its report “Policing with Local Communities” confirmed that it is appropriate that the Commissioner should continue to hold responsibility of this sort.

I understand that the new model will be implemented on a phased basis throughout 2020 and that the Commissioner and his team are meeting with Joint Policing Committees across Ireland, providing opportunities for detailed engagement at the local level.

Probate Data

Ceisteanna (257)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

257. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average and longest waiting time in each probate office for applications by solicitors and personal applicants, respectively; the number of applications on hand in each office; the timeline for the eProbate project to go live in each office; the status of the project; if the Revenue Commissioners have been incorporated and gone live on eProbate; the status of the implementation of each recommendation in the report of the probate services review group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46398/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. Probate functions are also carried out by County Registrars at District Probate Registries in 14 provincial court offices.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the following information to me.

The following figures are average times for an application to be dealt with in each of the District Probate Offices when a correct completed application is lodged.

Southern region

Kerry

Tipperary

Cork

Limerick

Average waiting time Solr.***

4/6 weeks

3/6 weeks

10 weeks

7/8 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4/6 weeks

2/6 weeks

12 weeks

4 weeks

Total number on hand**

134

96

310

118

Eastern region

Waterford

Kilkenny

Wexford

Average waiting time Solr.***

14 weeks

16/18 weeks

2/3 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

2 weeks

16/18 weeks

2/3 weeks

Total number on hand**

57

208

32

North Midlands Region

Dundalk

Cavan

Westmeath and Offaly

Average waiting time Solr.***

3/4 weeks

4 weeks

2 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4 weeks

4 weeks

3/4 weeks

Total number on hand**

80

20

16

Western Region

Castlebar

Donegal

Galway

Sligo

Average waiting time Solr.***

4 weeks

4 weeks

14 weeks

7/8 weeks

Average waiting time Personal Applicant ***

4 weeks

4 weeks

18 weeks

7/8 weeks

Total number on hand**

82

0

145

32

*** waiting times having lodged complete, correct applications.

** awaiting processing, does not include applications under query.

The current waiting times for applications in the Principal Probate Office in Dublin are as follows:

Solicitors applications lodged in person 5-6 weeks

Solicitors applications lodged by post 6-8 weeks

Personal applications 12-13 weeks from receipt of application

Any delays in waiting times for individual cases can occur because of errors in paperwork that have not yet been corrected by the solicitor/personal applicant. The offices process applications in the order in which they receive them and the above figures are indicative of the longest waiting times and numbers of applications on hand in each location. For the Principal Probate Office, the numbers of applications on hands changes daily as applications are received and processed. Consequently, this office does not measure applications on hand but rather tracks waiting times as the measure for operational effectiveness.

The Courts Service is embarking on an ambitious programme of reform and transformation over the coming years and one of the projects under consideration is an e-probate project. The proposed e-Probate project is at a very early stage of development and its full development is dependent on resources being made available and its relative priority against other significant projects which stem from other legislative and operational commitments. Primary legislation will also need to be passed before an e-probate project can meet its full potential.

All of the findings of the Probate Office review have been implemented to date. In addition there have been significant improvements in the way in which the Principal Probate Office operates. The Revenue Commissioners are currently actively developing an on-line application which will allow users to electronically file their Inland Revenue Affidavit (CA24). Staff from the Principal Probate Office sit on that Project Board and are working with the Revenue Commissioners to ensure the success of that project. This project, once implemented, will make the process of applying for probate significantly easier for citizens, in advance of the roll out of the proposed e-Probate project.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (258)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

258. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the disclosures log made by his Department under freedom of information was last updated; if this is in line with the disclosure policy of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46472/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Freedom of Information Act 2014, requires public bodies to routinely publish disclosure logs detailing requests made to the relevant Department under the Act. The last update to the disclosure log for the Department of Justice and Equality was in December 2015.

My Department has recently undertaken an extensive programme of organisational change. A core element of the transformation programme is a focus on transparency, along with improved external communications and engagement. The Department’s approach to Freedom of Information is consistent with this aim.

As part of this restructuring there is an overall examination of processes underway. This involves a review of the current model in place for dealing with the Freedom of Information requests, including the updating of the disclosure log.

Data Protection Commissioner

Ceisteanna (259)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

259. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the budget allocation for the Data Protection Commission in each of the years of 2017 to 2019, in tabular form; the budget allocation for same in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46483/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Government is very conscious of Ireland’s commitment to deliver effective data protection regulation and protection of the data privacy rights of EU citizens. The existence of a professional and competent data protection regulator in Ireland is also a critical enabler to the development and growth of our digital economy. The Government has shown its commitment by providing significant additional resources, in terms of funding and staff resources, to the Data Protection Commission (DPC) in recent years.

Year

Data Protection Commission Budget Allocation

2017

€7.5 million

2018

€11.7 million

2019

€15.2 million

2020

€16.9 million

In Budget 2020, the DPC was allocated €16.9 million which is an increase of 11% on its allocation in 2019. The increase in budgetary provision demonstrates the Government’s continuing commitment to meeting the funding requirements of the Irish data protection authority and the importance of a strong regulatory data protection framework to underpin the continuing expansion and growth of Ireland’s digital economy.

The Government is committed to keeping the resourcing of the DPC under on-going review. My Department will continue to monitor the impact of implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the impact of any possible future regulatory changes as well as any changes within industry, in conjunction with the DPC, to ensure that the DPC continues to have the resources required to fulfil its important, statutory obligations.