School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (124)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

124. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the building of a new national school in Ferbane, County Offaly, can be progressed in view of the fact it is operating on two different sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46761/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that an application for major capital works, for the school referred to by the Deputy, has been received in my Department.

As the Deputy is aware, under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings, starting in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period.  At this time, it is not possible to progress an application for major capital works for the school as Ferbane has not been identified as an area of demographic growth.

However, it is open to the school to submit an application for my Department’s consideration under the Additional School Accommodation (ASA) Scheme, where the school authority deems there to be a deficit of essential accommodation.  The application form can be accessed on the Department’s website www.education.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (125)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

125. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the construction of a new school (details supplied); and the expected date for its completion. [46762/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The delivery of this school building project has been devolved by the Department to the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

The Service Level Agreement between my Department and the ETB has been signed and sealed. 

It is now a matter for the  ETB to procure a Design Team for the project to design the buildings, obtain the necessary statutory planning permissions, and move the project onward to construction in due course. 

As the project is at an early stage in the delivery process, it is not possible at this time to give a date for the completion.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (126)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

126. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be provided to replace a dangerous outdoor play area surface in a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department has not received an application for funding in respect of the project details to which he refers.

I can also inform him that the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) is designed to allow schools, on a devolved funding basis, to carry out necessary improvement and refurbishment works that will upgrade existing school facilities including the upgrading of outdoor play areas. It is the appropriate scheme for funding requests of this nature.

It was open to the school to in question to make an application under the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 for the works described. However, I understand that no such application was made.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (127)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

127. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be allocated to provide MAPA training for staff at a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46789/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) provides a range of supports to teachers, parents and students in the area of special educational needs. This includes continuing professional development (CPD) for school principals and teachers, in-school support and advice on evidence informed interventions and information for parents and guardians of children with special educational needs.

Current training available to teaching staff in the area of Special Educational Needs includes School Based Seminars including NCSE designed and delivered Seminars; NCSE Supported Courses such as Post-Graduate Certificate/Diploma Programme of Continuing Professional Development in Special Educational Needs (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) for Teachers; On-line Courses and e-Learning; NCSE Book Borrowing and College and University Post Graduate Courses in Applied Behavioural Analysis, Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Visual Impairment. The Support Service continues to update current CPD courses and design new CPD courses in response to the needs of schools and teachers.

The Inclusion Support Service also provides school visits, phone support and email support.

As the funding request referred to by the Deputy relates to a particular training course, I have arranged for the NCSE to provide a direct reply to the Deputy.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (128)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

128. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 81 of 6 February 2019, his plans to provide additional school accommodation for Meakstown, Dublin 11; if the high number of new residential units built in the area will be taken into account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise.

For school planning purposes Meakstown is located in the Finglas East-Ballymun Dublin 11 school planning area. Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date information on significant new residential development in each area, including the area to which the Deputy refers.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next 4 years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.

While the announcement did not include a new school for the Finglas East-Ballymun-Dublin 11 school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. 

It is open to an individual school to apply for accommodation under the additional accommodation scheme if the school does not have sufficient capacity to meet school places.

Schools Health and Safety

Ceisteanna (129)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

129. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schemes to which a school (details supplied) should apply in order to acquire a small piece of land to provide a set-down area opposite the school to alleviate the dangerous situation of children being dropped to school on a blind bend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy that acquiring additional land to provide a set down area opposite the school in question is a matter between the landowner and the Patron.

The issue of road safety measures in general outside the area of vested school sites such as road signage, traffic calming measures, car parking and pedestrian facilities are the responsibility in the first instance of the relevant local authority.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (130)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

130. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received correspondence and-or an application for capital funding for a hall for a national school (details supplied); his plans to contribute to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46794/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that an application for a sports hall has been received from the school authority in question. 

As you are aware the National Development Plan (NDP) provides for an €8.4 billion investment in school buildings over the period 2018 to 2027 to deliver on NDP and National Planning Framework objectives through addressing the twin priorities of catering for demographics and ensuring a strengthened focus on refurbishment of existing school stock.  The announcement referred to the commitment to a PE hall build and modernisation programme in post primary schools, starting in the second half of the project Ireland 2040 period.

The immediate priority is to provide 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place.  My Department is not in a position, at this point, to consider the request from Glynn National School for a Sports Hall. The school have been informed of this decision. The request will however be retained on file for future consideration.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (131)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

131. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a policy to contribute to schools that have fundraised for small capital projects within their schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that schools which identify that they have a shortfall in accommodation that they may apply for funding under my Department's Additional School Accommodation Scheme (ASA). The application form and information relating to this scheme are available on my Department's website www.education.ie.  

If the project required by schools is smaller in nature then they may wish to consider the Summer Works Scheme (SWS). This scheme is designed to allow schools, on a devolved funding basis, to carry out necessary improvement and refurbishment works that will upgrade existing school facilities. Information relating to this scheme is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.  

Alternatively, if health and safety works are identified that require immediate attention, an Emergency Works application for these works only can be submitted to my Department.  The Emergency Works circular and application form are available on my Department’s website www.education.gov.ie.

If schools qualify for grant-aid under any of my Department's schemes funding is provided in full.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (132)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

132. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the capital plans for a national school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved capital funding to Glynn N.S. for additional accommodation.  My Department advised the school authority that it is not in a position to provide funding to the school for a General Purpose room due to the necessity to prioritise funding for essential classroom accommodation to meet demographic need. 

You will be aware that under the National Development Plan (NDP) increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment scheme. This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities in schools.

Under the Ireland Project 2040, we will invest €8.4 billion (compared to €4.9 billion in the previous decade) in primary and post primary school buildings. This will include the provision of 50 large scale school building projects and 20,000 school places in state of the art new buildings.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The school’s request will however be retained on file for consideration in the event of funding becoming available in the future.

Schools Health and Safety

Ceisteanna (133)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

133. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has liaised with a school (details supplied) in County Meath regarding improving road safety for students and staff in the vicinity of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46798/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care. 

The issue of road safety measures in the road network outside the area of vested school sites such as road signage, traffic calming measures, car parking and pedestrian facilities are the responsibility in the first instance of the relevant local authority.  Local Authorities have the power to decide on road safety measures outside schools to ensure that measures are in place to protect the safety of local school children. My Department has no function in this matter.

I can confirm to the Deputy than an application for External Environment Projects (Category 10) has been received from the school authority, in question, under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

I wish to advise that commensurate with the level of funding available for SWS in 2020, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme.  This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (134)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

134. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding available to a non-profit centre (details supplied) that wishes to expand to Letterkenny, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46829/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Funding of this nature does not fall within the remit of my Department.  I would suggest that the Deputy should speak to my colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on this matter.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (135)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

135. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) can extend their stamp 1G visa or obtain a working permit visa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that a Stamp 1G permission is intended to allow a non-EEA graduate to seek employment in Ireland following their graduation. This should be for the purpose of seeking graduate level employment and applying for a general employment permit, a critical skills employment permit or research hosting agreement. The details of the revised programme are set out in the policy document on the Third Level Graduate Programme which can be accessed on the website of my Department's Immigration Service - www.inis.ie.

The person referred to may make an application for a further Stamp 1G permission provided they have not exceeded the maximum of allowable period of student permission overall. Graduates with an award at Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications may be granted a twelve month permission to a maximum of seven years student permission overall. Time spent on a Stamp 2 permission as a student and Stamp 1G under this programme cannot exceed an aggregate time of seven years in total.

Graduates with an award at Level 9 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications qualify for the Programme may be granted permission for twenty-four months to a maximum of eight years student permission overall, time spent on Stamp 2 as a student and on Stamp 1G under this programme cannot exceed an aggregate time of eight years in total.

The issuing of work permits is a matter for the Work Permits Division of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Information relating to Work Permits can be found on www.dbei.gov.ie or by contacting the Work Permits Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.  The contact numbers are 01-4175333 or Lo-call: 1890 201 616.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department 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.  

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (136)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

136. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) will receive a response to their application for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46725/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is currently being considered by my Department. 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.

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.

I am also aware that the recent judgment of the High Court relating to continuous residency under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) has given cause for concern. The matter remains before the courts, with the Court of Appeal reserving judgement on the appeal on 8th Oct, and the matter therefore remains sub-judice. The outcome of the appeal will 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.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to 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.

State Properties

Ceisteanna (137)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

137. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Thornton Hall lands in County Dublin earmarked previously for a prison; if the lands are still in public ownership; if so, if offers from community groups for temporary use of the land will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46731/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Thornton Hall site was purchased in 2005 with the intention of constructing a large scale prison campus to replace the 19th century complex at Mountjoy Prison. Due to the downturn in the economy, the scale of the project could not be accommodated within the capital allocation available and the project did not proceed. In the decade since the original plan, international research has tended to favour smaller prisons within reach of support communities as the best option for rehabilitation. In addition, in light of the decision not to proceed with Thornton Hall, significant capital investment was made at the Mountjoy campus over recent years to upgrade accommodation.

Thornton Hall site remains in State ownership.

I understand from the Irish Prison Service that no requests for the temporary use of the site by community groups have been received by the IPS to date. 

In recent years a working group, which included representatives from the OPW, considered future use options for the site. This included discussions with Fingal County Council.  The site has also been flagged to the Department of Housing and Local Government, and to the Land Development Agency.  As such, proposals for the site will be considered both in the context of broader State requirements for land assets as well as any future requirements in relation to detention of prisoners.

Naturalisation Certificates

Ceisteanna (138)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

138. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of certificates of naturalisation that have been granted to citizens of the United States of America and Australia by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46738/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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

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 as well as international level.  It is important, therefore, that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally. These procedures are continually evolving such as reflecting the need to respond to changing international circumstances and also to ongoing service improvements due to the introduction of new technology and work practices.

The following table sets out the number of certificates of naturalisation applications that have been granted to citizens of the United States of America and Australia for the years requested by the Deputy.

Country 

 2016

2017 

2018 

2019 to date 

Total 

U.S.A

 232

177 

195 

104 

708 

Australia

 36

32 

32 

21 

121 

Garda Resources

Ceisteanna (139)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

139. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount spent by An Garda Síochána in updating the Garda computer aided design system in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46739/19]

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, as well as capital investment amounting to €92 million. 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. 

In total, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021.

Decisions in relation to the provision, allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources are matters for the Garda Commissioner. As Minister, I have no role in such matters. I understand, however, that a wide range of programmes are being pursued with the benefit of the ongoing substantial investment in Garda ICT infrastructure.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the computer aided dispatch (CAD) system currently in use in An Garda Síochána was originally installed in the Dublin Metropolitan Region in 1987 and that the system was substantially upgraded in 2010.  I am informed that the CAD system is fully operational and a current support and maintenance agreement is in place with the system supplier.

CAD is a key enabler for the Garda Control Room Strategy, under which An Garda Síochána is streamlining the number of control rooms, managing first contact and incident response nationwide.  The system supports regional control rooms serving the Dublin Metropolitan Region and Eastern Region, the Western and Northern Region and the Southern Region, with the South Eastern Region planned for go-live later this year.

In line with the Implementation Plan for the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, 'A Policing Service for the Future', it is planned to procure a new CAD system to support the regional control room structure and replace the existing system. It will incorporate the latest control room technology, including mapping, mobile computing, automatic vehicle and person location, and digital radio and telephone integration.

I understand that An Garda Síochána is working to progress the matter, however, as the Deputy will appreciate, so as not to compromise the procurement process of the new CAD system, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on what is a live procurement process.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are preparing information in relation to the years 2017 and 2018 and I will provide that information to the Deputy once received.

Refugee Appeals Tribunal Data

Ceisteanna (140)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

140. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons that received a decision from the International Protection Appeals Tribunal declaring them to be a refugee that have not received such a declaration; the length of time in months persons are awaiting such a declaration; the reason for the delays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46767/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I should inform the Deputy that a decision letter from the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) is not in itself a decision in relation to the grant or refusal of international protection.  It is rather a decision of an appeal against a recommendation of the International Protection Office (IPO) to refuse an application for international protection.

There are currently some 140 cases which have received a positive decision from the IPAT. The average time taken in 2019 for ministerial grants to issue following an IPAT decision is 4 months. It is necessary for my Department to carry out the due diligence on each recommendation, before a formal grant letter can issue from my Department granting refugee or subsidiary protection status. The process involves certain checks in relation to each case, which may include identity checks. The average time can be distorted by some more complex cases that take somewhat longer to process.

I can assure the Deputy that applicants receive a ministerial decision in relation to their international protection applications as soon as possible following a decision of the IPAT.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Ceisteanna (141)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

141. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) will be granted Garda clearance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46842/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the Garda National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. This is a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly. 

The processing of vetting applications by the National Vetting Bureau is an operational matter for the Garda authorities and is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016 and other relevant law, including the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016.

My Department has no role in the processing of individual vetting applications.

I understand however that applicants can track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online.

I further understand that the National Vetting Bureau has a dispute process for vetting applicants who wish to dispute the detail contained in a vetting disclosure. 

Finally, I understand that while it is the role of the National Vetting Bureau to provide vetting disclosures, it is for individual employers and organisations to determine their own vetting requirements and to assess the relevance of disclosed convictions to the vacancies they seek to fill. I understand, therefore, that it is not necessarily the case that the disclosure of a previous conviction to a potential employer or organisation will mean that they will automatically not consider a person for employment or engage them for services.

Legislative Reviews

Ceisteanna (142, 143)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

142. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when his Department began examining legislating for hate crime; the reason for the delay in bringing forward legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46850/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

143. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 317 of 5 November 2019, the details of the review of the incitement to hatred legislation carried out by his Department or on behalf of his Department since 1989; when each review was commenced and concluded; the recommendations of each review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 143 together.

The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 has been the subject of ongoing Departmental review.

As set out in my response to Parliamentary Question 317 of 5 November 2019, an external review of the 1989 Act was carried out in 2008. The review, entitled "Combating Racism and Xenophobia through the Criminal Law", was conducted by the Centre for Criminal Justice, University of Limerick, in conjunction with the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism. This review was published in September 2008.    

As set out in my previous reply, the review concluded that “the complex nature of the offences in the 1989 Act arises primarily from the overriding need to balance fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression, privacy and basic principles of criminal liability, with the need to protect individuals and groups against vicious racist abuse”. 

The 2008 review recommended that legislative change alone would be insufficient and that measures to address racism should be included as part of an overall integration and anti-racism strategy, including education and public awareness programmes and a wide range of measures to ensure migrant and minority communities are more included in Irish society.

Among other conclusions and recommendations, the review:

- identified a need for guidance for judges so that they consider racism as an aggravating factor deserving a tougher sentence.

- recommended an update to the Act specifically to include “racism on the internet”.

- recommended that those involved in the Courts, the Police and the administration should be trained on the full extent and potential of all existing legislation to deal with racism.

- cautioned against introducing specific ‘aggravated offences’, expressing the view that these would be too difficult to prove.

- calls for stronger ‘flanking measures’ to support effective implementation of existing legislation, including:

1. A detailed Annual Report from Gardaí on crimes involving racism

2. The systematic monitoring and reporting of cases involving racism by the Courts Service

3. Additional resources for the Gardaí and the training of ‘ethnic liaison officers’

4. Establishment of consultative forums across all Garda Divisions to liaise with minority communities

5. Initiatives to encourage reporting of crimes

6. Support for victims’ bodies including adequate training

7. The requirement for all local authorities to include policies to address racism in their strategic planning process.

The Deputy will appreciate that the majority of these recommendations have been implemented in the intervening period.

The Department keeps all legislation under review on an ongoing basis.

The review of the 1989 Act being conducted at present by my Department is designed to identify how our legislation on hate speech, including incitement to hatred, can be made fit for purpose in a modern democracy. This review is one part of a suite of measures which will include the development of new legislation on both hate speech and hate crime.

As part of the review, I launched a public consultation process on 24 October, which is open and will gather the views of communities, experts and all interested persons on how our incitement legislation should be changed to make it fit for purpose. Details of the consultation are available on my Department’s website. The consultation runs until 13 December 2019 and I encourage all those who wish to contribute to go to the Department’s website at www.justice.ie for further information.

Separately to the work on incitement, my Department is finalising research on the effectiveness of the different legislative approaches to tackling hate crime in other countries, in order to learn from experience elsewhere and use this information to identify the approach that will be most suitable for Ireland. When this research has concluded I will bring forward proposals for new hate crime legislation. These will be published and the views of experts, communities and the public will be taken into account.

This work is complemented by the work of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, who are preparing legislation in relation to the regulation of tech companies in respect of harmful content. This provision for a regulator to oversee online safety, which has been widely discussed and is in line with the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission Report. This legislation is where issues such as codes of conduct for tech companies, requirements to put measures in place to deal with harmful content and so forth will be dealt with.

The Deputy will appreciate that this is a complex area but the approach being taken - including research and providing the opportunity for experts and members of the public to provide their views through consultation - will help to ensure that the legislation we develop will deliver a safer, fairer and more inclusive Ireland for everyone.

Finally, alongside the criminal law, my Department has also been responsible for bringing forward a number of inclusion strategies which are designed to promote equality and inclusion and to tackle discrimination and prejudice.  These strategies include the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020, the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021, the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020 and the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020. We will shortly launch a National LGBTI+ Strategy. The Progress Report for the mid-term review of the Migrant Integration Strategy identified the need for strong actions to combat racism and these are currently being advanced.