Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (79)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

79. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a primary school project (details supplied) in Kildare to move to pre-qualification of tender process. [46970/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Design Team has confirmed that it is working on finalising the Stage 2(b) Report ensuring the new school building will be a "Near Zero Energy Building" (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

The Design Team Leader currently envisages that the Stage 2(b) Report will be with the Department for review in the coming weeks.

Upon completion, receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, the Department will revert to the school regarding the further progression of this major building project, including pre-qualification of contractors.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (80, 81, 82)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

80. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish the review of the apportionment methodology for Bus Éireann mentioned at the Committee of Public Accounts meeting on 13 December 2018 on the provision of school transport that was completed in March 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46997/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

81. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a verification check will be carried out on the calculation of maintenance charges for the years 2011 to 2014; if a verification check was made as indicated by the Comptroller and Auditor General in respect of the alteration in the maintenance charge from paragraph 5.1.2 of the 1975 agreement; his views on whether the new charge will give a surplus to Bus Éireann in view of the fact school buses do fewer kilometres than expressway buses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46998/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

82. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the Comptroller and Auditor General was correct when he informed the Committee of Public Accounts on 13 December 2018 on a matter (details supplied); his views on whether the EU Commission State Aid Investigation Case 31/2007 2014 based its decision on wrong information; if the EU Commission based its decision on wrong information, if he will inform the Commission and publish the amount of surplus, that is, profits for the ten years prior to 2011 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 to 82, inclusive, together.

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme. Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis and the Department does not pay any profit to Bus Éireann relating to the School Transport Scheme. Actual expenditure is finalised in the Bus Éireann annual statement of account which is independently audited by the Bus Éireann auditors in accordance with the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements.

With regard to maintenance, on an annual basis Bus Éireann provides the Department with the projected cost of school transport services together with a provisional spread of payments. These costs are broken down under the headings agreed in the 1975 arrangement which include maintenance costs. Bus Éireann report the maintenance costs to the Department on a monthly basis as part of the monthly operational meetings.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) carried out an examination of the provision of school transport and completed its report in August 2017, the C&AG Special Report 98. The C&AG report referenced a surplus in the Transport Management Charge element of the costs. This amount was held by way of an uncommitted reserve by Bus Éireann to be used solely for the purposes of the School Transport Scheme. Any surplus was sealed in the school transport scheme and the uncommitted reserve was repaid fully to the Department in December 2018.

Since the publication of the C&AG report the Department has undertaken a review of the apportionment methodology utilised by Bus Éireann for the School Transport Scheme. An independent expert was appointed to carry out a review of the apportionment methodology for the transport management charge that is paid by the Department to Bus Éireann each year. This report was completed in March 2018 and has provided us with a detailed analysis and classification of costs incorporated into the transport Management Charge.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (83, 84)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

83. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a capital grant application by a school (details supplied). [47008/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

84. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a capital grant application by a school (details supplied). [47039/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 84 together.

The school referred to by the Deputy is located in accommodation on a site provided by the school.  

The school is not included in my Department's current school building programme. It is open to the school to apply to my Department for any additional temporary accommodation to cater for immediate accommodation needs or emergency works grant to address any health and safety works at the school.

Compensation Schemes

Ceisteanna (85)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

85. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the ex gratia scheme of compensation for victims of child sexual abuse in day schools; the number of applications made; the number of awards made; the average value of amount awarded; the funding allocation made to the scheme for this purpose; if he is satisfied with the adequacy of the terms of the scheme to meet the needs of victims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47048/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Since the ex gratia scheme was established in July 2015, a total of 50 applications were received.

Payments are being made to a number of victims of child sexual abuse in day schools on foot of the assessments made by the Independent Assessor to the ex gratia scheme, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill. 

The current position is that sixteen offers of payment of €84,000 have been made and eight have been accepted.  

In response to the assessor's determinations my Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, is examining the ex gratia scheme.

The review is progressing but is not yet complete.

Third Level Costs

Questions Nos. 87 and 88 answered with Question No. 72.

Ceisteanna (86)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

86. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter (details supplied) with regard to third-level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47049/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment/progression and means.

To satisfy the terms and conditions of the Scheme in relation to progression, a student must be moving from year to year within a course having successfully completed the previous year or be transferring from one course to another where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.

Under the progression/previous academic attainment criteria of the scheme, a grant will not be paid to a student for a repeat period of study on the same course, or for a different course at the same level, irrespective of whether or not a grant was paid previously.  The objective of this policy is to help as many students as possible to obtain one qualification at each level of study. However, once an equivalent period of study has been completed on the new course, the student may be eligible for student grant assistance for the remainder of the course.

In addition, under Article 15(8) of the Student Grant Scheme 2019, the awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) has discretion to award a grant for a repeat period of study in exceptional circumstances which impacted on a student completing a particular period of study or undertaking exams. SUSI treats each application for repeat funding on a case-by-case basis, and it is it is a matter for the individual student to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the awarding authority that there were exceptional circumstances.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

Also, tax relief (at the standard rate of tax) may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from the student’s local Tax Office or from the Revenue Commissioners website, www.revenue.ie.

Questions Nos. 87 and 88 answered with Question No. 72.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (89)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

89. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons living in direct provision granted work permits; the number that have joined the workforce; if they have joined the workforce, if they are still living in direct provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46943/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

When an international protection applicant is issued with a labour market access permission under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 and takes up employment, the employer (or the applicant in cases of self-employment) is obliged to inform my Department within 21 days.  A standard form for this purpose is available on the website of the Immigration Service of my Department. 

As of 11 November 2019, a total of 3,414 Labour Market Access Permissions have been granted to international protection applicants. A total of 2,525 of these grants are for persons living in accommodation provided by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department.

Based on the returned declaration forms received to date, I am informed that a total of 1,693 applicants have commenced employment or self-employment. 1,199 of these refer to persons who stated that they reside in IPAS accommodation centres. 

As the employer or applicant has 21 days from the time they take up employment or self-employment to return the declaration form, there is likely to be a time lag between the actual date of commencement of employment and my Department being notified of same, and therefore this will not be reflected in the figures quoted.

Garda Operations

Ceisteanna (90)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

90. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to establish a transport police unit or service within An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46971/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for personnel matters and the distribution of personnel across the various Garda Divisions.  As Minister I have no direct role in these matters.

I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of these resources under continual review, to ensure their optimum use.

I understand from An Garda Síochána that it already employs a wide range of operational measures aimed at tackling public-order offences and anti-social behaviour. These measures are underpinned by the existence of a comprehensive legal framework, which assists the Gardaí in tackling this type of crime, including provisions under:

-  the Criminal Damage Act 1991;

-  Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994;

-  the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003; and

-  the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.

I understand from the Garda authorities that it is not proposed to establish a specialist or dedicated public transport policing unit and that effective local community policing can meet the policing needs of the rail network and its stakeholders. 

I am advised by Garda management that it engages extensively with transport operators and that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to address incidents and issues that have arisen at specific locations.  I am further informed that there is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the respective control centres, and access to good quality CCTV can provide assistance to Gardaí when investigating serious incidents.

In terms of safety on public transport generally, I am advised by the Garda authorities that Operation Twin Track is a Community Engagement & Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted in partnership between An Garda Síochána and other Public Transportation stakeholders such as Iarnród Éireann, DART Services, and Transdev [Luas]. The purpose of this is to provide High Visibility Policing of Rail and Light Rail transport within the DMR region and nationwide and to deliver crime prevention advice.

I am informed that a multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and that it is agreed that An Garda Síochána will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.

For its part, the Government remains committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána have all the necessary resources to tackle all forms of criminality in our communities.  A total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, increased to €1.882 billion in 2020.  The provision of these additional resources and the ongoing Garda recruitment is a key component in this Government's approach to improving public safety throughout the country which will undoubtedly also benefit policing of transport services.

Garda Promotions

Ceisteanna (91)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

91. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a second competition for promotions to the rank of Deputy Garda Commissioner will be conducted; if he will review the existing criteria for the position in view of the fact that all recent applicants were rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the appointment of a person as Deputy Garda Commissioner is by the Government, on the nomination of the Policing Authority.

In accordance with that Act and following the necessary Government approval, the Policing Authority requested the Public Appointments Service to undertake a selection competition, after which the Policing Authority would nominate a person to be appointed to the position.

Following the conclusion of the recent open selection competition, I was notified by the Policing Authority that it had not been possible to make a recommendation for the post of Deputy Commissioner.

The Policing Authority has undertaken to consider the matter further in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and my officials. The Deputy will appreciate that I would wish to await the  outcome of that consideration before forming a view as to the most appropriate course of action, including whether to recommend to Government that another competition be undertaken.

Deportation Orders Re-examination

Ceisteanna (92)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

92. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position in regard to residency and an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I must inform the Deputy that my Department has no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy.

In relation to residency, the person concerned is the subject of a valid Deportation Order signed on 17 October 2009. Representations were received from the person concerned, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), requesting that the Deportation Order be revoked including information regarding the person's marriage.  Following the detailed consideration of the information submitted in support of the request, the Deportation Order was affirmed and notified to the person concerned by letter dated 19 September, 2018. 

As the person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order they are obliged to remove themselves from the State and to remain outside the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. 

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.

International Protection

Ceisteanna (93)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

93. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position in regard to eligibility for long-term residency and eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47010/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, if an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications. The applicant or his legal representative should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

However, I can inform the Deputy that an applicant for international protection is awarded international protection, whether refugee status or subsidiary protection status, upon a declaration of status being issued from my Department. This is done on foot of a grant recommendation from the International Protection Office (IPO) or a decision of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) to set aside a refusal recommendation of the IPO. The Ministerial Decisions Unit of my Department processes such recommendations or decisions in chronological order based on the date the file is received in that Unit. Once the necessary due diligence has been carried out, a declaration of status will issue from my Department as soon as possible. 

The International Protection Office  may be contacted: by email to info@ipo.gov.ie; by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

The International Protection Appeals Tribunal may be contacted either: by email to info@protectionappeals.ie; by telephone at 01-4748400 (or Lo-Call 1890 201 458), or in writing to Corporate Services Division, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal, 6-7 Hanover Street East, Dublin D02 W320.

 The Ministerial Decisions Unit operates an email service for responding to queries - mduinfo@justice.ie.

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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (94)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

94. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency position and eligibility for stamp 4 and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I must inform the Deputy that, based on the information provided,  it is not possible to comment on the person's residency position or eligibility for a Stamp 4 permission or eligibility for naturalisation.  There is no record of an immigration application to my Department from the individual referred to and therefore I cannot comment further in 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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (95)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

95. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when stamp 2 will be renewed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47012/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the onus rests with the person concerned to keep their permission in the State up to date. The person referred to by the Deputy must make an appointment with the registration office located at 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. Appointments can be made online at https://burghquayregistrationoffice.inis.gov.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.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (96)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

96. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of eligibility for stamp 4 in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the person concerned has not yet made an application for renewal of their current permission. Only when the person has made their application through the normal channels can a decision be made on their case. 

Persons making an application for renewal of a permission to remain in the State are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their identity and nationality. This is usually in the form of a currently valid passport and may include other original supporting documents, such as a previously held or out of date passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate.  In rare circumstances where an applicant cannot produce their current passport, or a previous passport, birth certificate or other supporting documents, the applicant will be required to provide a full explanation.  Such explanation should, where possible, be supported by satisfactory evidence that they have attempted to obtain such documentation and correspondence from the relevant authorities or embassy responsible for the issuing of passports and birth certificates in their country, clearly stating the reasons the documentation cannot be provided.  My Department will consider the explanation given and, if satisfied it is for reasons genuinely beyond the applicant's control, may suggest alternative means to the person to assist in establishing their identity and nationality.  

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 (97)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

97. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when it will be possible to update a stamp 4 due to expire in December 2019 in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47014/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by my Department that the person concerned has not yet made an application for renewal of their current permission. Only when the person referred to has made their application through the normal channels can a decision be made on their case. 

Persons making an application for renewal of a permission to remain in the State are required to provide satisfactory evidence of their identity and nationality. This is usually in the form of a currently valid passport and may include other original supporting documents, such as a previously held or out of date passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate.  In rare circumstances where an applicant cannot produce their current passport, or a previous passport, birth certificate or other supporting documents the applicant will be required to provide a full explanation.  Such explanation should, where possible, be supported by satisfactory evidence that they have attempted to obtain such documentation and correspondence from the relevant authorities or embassy responsible for the issuing of passports and birth certificates in their country, clearly stating the reasons the documentation cannot be provided.  My Department will consider the explanation given and, if satisfied it is for reasons genuinely beyond the applicant's control, may suggest alternative means to the person to assist in establishing their identity and nationality. 

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS 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 INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Eligibility

Ceisteanna (98)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

98. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of eligibility for naturalisation in case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47015/19]

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.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS 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 my department is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.