School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (227)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

227. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the under capacity of second level education in Skerries, County Dublin; and if so, his plans to rectify the situation. [49049/19]

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. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The Government announced in April 2018, plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four year period 2019 to 2022, including 5 new primary schools and 3 new post-primary schools in the North County Dublin/Fingal area.  In addition, 4 new primary and 7 new post-primary schools were established in recent years in the 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.

My Department is aware of the enrolment issues in the Skerries area for 2020.  In this context, my Department has been in direct contact with the Patron of Skerries Community College in respect of the capacity in the school.  Skerries Community College has expressed a willingness to increase its long-term projected enrolment to 1,000 pupils. As a result a permanent extension consisting of 3 general classrooms, 3 SET/Offices, Science Laboratory and prep area, Art room and toilets has been approved by my Department.

Pending the delivery of the permanent extension my Department has also approved interim temporary accommodation consisting of 3 mainstream classrooms with toilets along with the converting an existing space to create a Science laboratory. This accommodation will be in place for September 2020.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (228)

James Browne

Ceist:

228. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to expand secondary school places in Wexford town in view of the fact that parents are having difficulty obtaining a place in a school (details supplied) for September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49091/19]

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.  With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

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.  This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four 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 post primary school for Wexford Town (which is located in the Wexford 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.

As part of the Schools Bundle 5, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project was completed in August 2018 in Wexford Town and can cater for 900 pupils.  I can also confirm to the Deputy that my Department has recently approved an application for a second post-primary provider in the town to provide an additional mainstream classroom and a science laboratory.  This project has been devolved to the school authority to deliver.  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.

My Department’s capital programme prioritises building projects for areas where significant additional school places are required.  Details of the current status of the 7 major school projects (primary and post-primary) in County Wexford that are included on the capital programme may be viewed on my Department’s website www.education.gov.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (229)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

229. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49135/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A major school building project to provide new accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy has recently been authorized to proceed to tender for the appointment of a Main Contractor and Reserved Specialists. The closing date for receipt of the completed tender for the Main Contractor is the end of December 2019.

Subject to no issues arising during the tender process, it is anticipated that the project will progress to site by early third quarter of 2020 with a construction period of approximately 24 months.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (230)

Pat Casey

Ceist:

230. Deputy Pat Casey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for construction of a new school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49139/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved for delivery to the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

Under this arrangement, I can confirm that the ETB has appointed 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 has not yet commenced architectural planning, it is too early in the process to provide a timeline for completion of the works. 

Human Trafficking

Ceisteanna (231)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

231. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of work on human trafficking; if Ireland can progress from its current status as a tier two country for trafficking; if his Department has reviewed the 2018 trafficking in persons report and the points made about Ireland; if more convictions are being sought against traffickers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48563/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Ireland is fully committed to addressing the challenges of human trafficking under Irish and EU legislation and through the principal international conventions and we are active nationally and internationally to do so.

With regard to international treaties, Ireland has ratified the principal international Human Trafficking treaties:

- The Palermo Protocol (2000) to the UN Convention against Organised Crime

- The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2005).

As the Deputy may be aware, the EU Anti Trafficking Directive (2011/36/EU) and in Ireland, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 are the relevant legislative measures.

In February this year, Ireland ratified the ILO Forced Labour Protocol, which reinforces the international legal framework for combating all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons. This initiative, by my colleague the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, puts Ireland among the group known as “50 for Freedom”, which stems from an ILO initiative to encourage member countries to ratify the Protocol by the end of 2019.

Domestically, the Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking was launched in 2016. The Action Plan involves a victim-centred and human rights based approach with the ultimate aims of preventing human trafficking, ensuring an effective criminal justice response and delivery of supports to victims.

An Garda Síochána has also committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Ireland. A specialised Garda Unit, the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU), has been has been in place since 2009 to conduct investigations into human trafficking and provide advice, support and where necessary, operational assistance to investigations at district level. An Garda Síochána is also active in relation to trafficking gangs through work targeting organised crime - targeting their finances, their use of the internet and by working closely with other jurisdictions.

A number of State bodies also provide care and practical support to victims including the HSE, the Legal Aid Board, the Immigration Service and Tusla. My Department also provides funding to several NGOs for their work to provide support to victims of trafficking.

The Deputy may also wish to note that action is also being taken to raise public awareness in Ireland and help members of the public identify the signs of human trafficking. More information is available on the “Blue Blindfold” website: http://www.blueblindfold.gov.ie, maintained by my Department.

With regard to the report referred to by the Deputy, I note that the US State Department downgraded Ireland from a Tier 1 to a Tier 2 ranking in its 2018 annual Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) Report. Ireland is among 14 EU and EEA States which the US State Department considers as Tier 2. The other relevant states are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

My Department continues to work closely with all relevant agencies in terms of following up on the recommendations outlined in the report.

As set out in the Annual Report of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Department of Justice and Equality, there were 64 recorded incidents of human trafficking in Ireland in 2018. Of this total, 13 are recorded as having occurred outside the jurisdiction and 51 are recorded as having occurred within the jurisdiction. I am informed An Garda Síochána continues to vigorously pursue a number of cases where action was initiated prior to 2018, and have commenced action in a number of new cases.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (232)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

232. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a naturalisation application by a person (details supplied); when the application will be finalised; if the application will be expedited in view of the recent Court of Appeal judgment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48574/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Officials in my Department have confirmed that an application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 2 April 2019. Processing of this application is on-going, with a view to establishing whether the conditions for naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, are satisfied. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

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.

I understand that, for applicants, their families and their friends, the past few months will have been quite stressful. I am satisfied however that the Court of Appeal has provided legal clarity, and upheld the lawfulness of our residency rules governing citizenship through naturalisation.

The processing of applications has continued throughout the period in which the appeal decision was awaited and applications continued to be accepted. While the ruling is being studied in detail in my Department, I have asked for preparations to begin for a citizenship ceremony to be held on Monday, 9th December in Killarney. Invitations have issued and further ceremonies will take place early in 2020 to ensure that everyone who has made a successful application for citizenship has an opportunity to attend a ceremony and receive their certificate of naturalisation at the earliest opportunity.

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.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (233)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

233. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda vehicles available in each Garda division in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48580/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion and this is due to increase further to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020. The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased - a total of €92 million was provided this year, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. Capital investment will increase further to €116.5 million in 2020.

With regard to the Garda fleet specifically, an overall investment of €46 million has been agreed by Government between 2016 and 2021. €10 million was made available for the Garda fleet this year. A further €9 million will be provided next year as part of an overall investment of €46 million in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021.

It is important to be clear that under Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for management of An Garda Síochána. He is responsible for the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources, in light of operational demands. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters. I understand however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review, to ensure their optimum use.

The Deputy will appreciate that the size of the Garda fleet can fluctuate somewhat, as vehicles are added to and removed from the fleet. However in general, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the size of the Garda fleet has increased in recent years and is currently stable: including Divisions and National Units, the fleet on 1 January 2019 included 2,765 vehicles. As of 15 November 2019 the total strength of the fleet including Divisions and National Units is 2,775.

I am assured that the allocation of Garda vehicles is made on the basis of identified operational demands and that the allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed on a continual basis. These are operational questions for policing experts and my Department is not involved.

It may also be noted that Garda management has informed me that this year's funding is being used for the purchase and fit-out of over 300 vehicles, of which 289 vehicles have been allocated to date. I understand that orders have been placed for a further 59 vehicles which will be allocated before the end of this year or in Quarter 1 2020. As a result, the Garda authorities consider that it is likely that the Garda fleet will be slightly larger at the end of the year compared to the total number of vehicles at the beginning of the year.

Further, my intention is that a further €1 million funding for the fleet will be included in additional funding to be provided to the Garda Vote before the end of the year.

It is also important to point out that the age profile of the Garda fleet has significantly improved in recent years due to ongoing Government investment - 22% of the Garda fleet is now less than two years old, as compared to only 5% in 2012. And over 80% of the Garda fleet is now less than 6 years old.

Finally, the Deputy may be interested to know that the Garda authorities are developing a Fleet Strategy, which I expect to set out detail on matters including, for example, the optimum size and composition of the fleet. I expect that the new Governance function in my Department will engage with An Garda Síochána, in that regard, as the process continues.

The number of Garda vehicles attached in each Garda Division in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019 is provided at the link, as requested by the Deputy. These tables reflect vehicles from the fleet assigned to Divisions and exclude vehicles assigned to National Units.

4850

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (234)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

234. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a list of disused Garda stations in the Fingal area of County Dublin will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion and this is due to increase further to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020. The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased - a total of €92 million was provided this year, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. Capital investment will increase further to €116.5 million in 2020.

The Garda Commissioner has responsibility for management of An Garda Síochána and is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of these resources. I understand however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme developed and implemented in 2012 and 2013 resulted in the closure of a number of Garda stations nationwide. I am informed by the Garda authorities that one station in the Fingal area was closed under that programme, namely Rush Garda station. I am further informed that the Garda authorities further advise that they are not aware of any other disused Garda stations in the Fingal area.

Finally and as the Deputy may recall, the Programme for Government contained a commitment to reopen six Garda Stations on a pilot basis to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order.

Rush Garda station is included in the project along with Ballinspittle, Co. Cork, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan, Donard, Co. Wicklow, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow and Stepaside in Co. Dublin.

The Office of Public Works has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. As a result, all works to the Garda estate involve close cooperation between the OPW and the Garda authorities. I am informed by the OPW and Garda authorities that the refurbishment of Rush Garda Station will be completed and the station handed over to An Garda Síochána by the end of 2019.

Crime Data

Ceisteanna (235)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

235. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons killed as a result of gangland violence in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48696/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Significant progress is being made by An Garda Síochána in targeting organised crime and associated violence. I understand from the Commissioner that since its establishment in March 2015 the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has been responsible for:

- seizure of controlled substances with an estimated street value of approximately €167 million;

- seizure of cash, believed to be the proceeds of crime, to a value of €10 million; and

- seizure of 108 firearms and over 3,000 rounds of ammunition.

I further understand that in 2019 alone, the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has been responsible for seizure of controlled substances to the value of €20 million; cash believed to the be the proceeds of crime to the value of €2.4 million; and 17 firearms.

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy in relation to the years 2015-2019 from the Garda authorities and I will write directly to the Deputy directly once I receive it.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (236)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

236. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 89 of 14 November 2019, the allowances (details supplied) outside of accommodation received by the 1,693 applicants who indicated they have commenced employment or self-employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As stated in my reply to your previous question of 14 November, 2019, the weekly allowance payment for international protection applicants living in an accommodation centre stands at €38.80 per week for adults and €29.80 per week for children since 25 March 2019.

Our opt-in to the (recast) Receptions Conditions Directive, for the first time, places the provision of material reception conditions (accommodation, food and clothing) on a statutory basis, underpinned by EU law.

The European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018 transposed the Directive into Irish law and under the whole-of-Government approach, a number of Government Departments and Agencies work closely together to ensure the necessary supports and services are provided to residents. For example, my Department offers accommodation and related services. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection pays a weekly personal allowance to each resident and covers any exceptional needs. The Department of Education and Skills provides school places for children resident in the centres. Children also have access to the free pre-school scheme, the Early Childhood Care and Education programme. In addition, children attending school may access the State school transport system. The HSE provides mainstreamed health services to residents.

Regulation 5 of the 2018 Regulations provides that where a resident has been working for a reasonable period of time (12 weeks), the Daily Expenses Allowance (paid weekly by DEASP) can be reduced or withdrawn and the applicant may be required to make a contribution towards the cost of their accommodation and related services. Schedule 2 of the Regulations sets out the charging schedule, which is calculated on the basis of the applicant's earnings and is capped at the cost to the State of providing the accommodation. My Department in consultation with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is currently examining how best to introduce an appropriate charging mechanism with the least administrative burden.

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

Ceisteanna (237)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

237. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the officials in his Department (details supplied) who were requested to arrange a visit to an asylum reception centre by a person; the procedures for similar visits by election candidates to reception centres; the officials who attended on the same visit; the details of the visit; if residents provided informed consent to meeting the person; the number of residents who agreed and refused, respectively, to meet the person; and if he will report to Dáil Éireann on the visit. [48703/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Persons running for or in public office should ensure that they are familiar with the policy issues in relation to immigration and integration. To that end my Department is happy, subject to the constraints specified below, to facilitate visits to accommodation centres for asylum seekers and refugees. Such visits are organised on regular occasions, for example, for members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.

The House Rules for state-provided accommodation centres (including Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres) include the arrangements to be followed for any visitors to the centre. This is to ensure that visits are confined to public areas of centres only, ensuring that the privacy of residents take priority. Visits by elected representatives or candidates for public office to the centre must receive advance permission from the centre manager. This was the procedure followed in relation to the visit referred to by the Deputy.

During the visit and at the invitation of the centre manager, a number of residents of the centre took the opportunity to discuss their journey to Ireland and their views on the public discourse relating to immigration in Ireland. No resident was obliged to participate, and no resident invited to speak to the visitor refused to do so. No officials from my Department were in attendance at the centre during this visit.

Should the Deputy or any member of the Oireachtas wish to visit an accommodation centre, I would be happy to facilitate them, subject to the necessary constraints to respect the privacy of residents.

Assisted Decision Making

Ceisteanna (238)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

238. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the urgent calls by families and interested parties to set up the decision support service to replace the ward of court system that many families feel to be inadequate; his plans to progress legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Assisted Decision Making (ADM) (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced.

As the Deputy will be aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in Wards of Court matters. Management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.

The ADM (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. It provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service (DSS) within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).

Some provisions of the Act were commenced in October 2016 and progress has been made on preparing for the establishment of the DSS and commencement of the remainder of the Act.

A high-level Steering Group comprising senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the DSS, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the DSS and this work is ongoing.

The Director of the DSS is working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the Act. This lead-in timeframe ensures that the necessary staff resources, processes, IT system, expert panels, codes of practice and regulations will be in place so that the Service will have the capacity to be up and running effectively. There are many complex strands to this work, including involvement of multiple organisations, and the situation is being kept under ongoing review as the preparatory work on implementation moves forward.

The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides for a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health.

My Department will continue to work closely with the Mental Health Commission and the Director of the DSS to deliver the full implementation of the Act.

When the Act is fully commenced, the law will be changed from the current “all or nothing” status approach to a flexible functional definition, whereby capacity is assessed only in relation to the matter in question and only at the time in question.

The Act provides for a functional definition of capacity which takes an issue-specific and time specific approach, focusing on the particular time when a decision has to be made and on the particular matter to which the decision relates. This allows for situations where the loss of capacity is temporary or partial and where there may be fluctuations in capacity.

Under the Act, the current adult wards of court system will be phased out and replaced by a less intrusive system which offers a continuum of options to support people in maximising their decision-making capability. Part 6 of the 2015 Act provides for the phased transition from adult wardship to this new support framework. It provides for the review by the wardship court of the capacity of all current adult wards within three years of the commencement of that Part of the Act. Following a review of his or her capacity, the ward will be discharged from wardship and depending on the outcome of the review the wardship court may:

- Declare that the ward does not lack capacity and immediately discharge the ward from wardship and order that the property of the former ward be returned to him/her.

- Declare that the ward lacks capacity unless a suitable person is made available as co-decision maker to make one or more decisions. Once a co-decision making agreement is registered the court shall immediately discharge the ward from wardship and order that the property of the former ward be returned to him/her. If there is no suitable person to act as co-decision maker or the co-decision making agreement has not been properly registered within a period set down by the court, then the court shall make orders as appropriate under Part 5 to appoint a decision making representative and order that the property of the former ward be returned to him/her once a decision making representative has been appointed.

- Declare that the ward lacks capacity even if a suitable person is made available as co-decision maker to make one or more decisions. The court shall make orders as appropriate under Part 5 to appoint a decision making representative and order that the property of the former ward be returned to him/her once a decision making representative has been appointed.

Family Law Cases

Ceisteanna (239)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

239. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide statistics for the delays in family law proceedings in each of the District and Circuit Courts and in the High Court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Courts Service Act 1998 provides that management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, including the provision of facilities for court users. The scheduling and hearing of court cases is a matter for the Presidents of the Courts and the presiding Judges.

The Presidents of the Courts, in consultation with the Courts Service, keep the distribution of business under regular review and where specific issues are identified appropriate action is taken bearing in mind any constraints imposed by the availability of judicial, administrative or structural resources. A key piece of data in this regard is the waiting times for hearings.

The Government is committed to significant reform of the courts, including the establishment of a family law court structure that is streamlined, more efficient, and less costly. My Department is working on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will operate in a user-friendly and efficient manner. The intention is to establish a dedicated Family Court within the existing court structures. The Family Court Bill will support the provisions of the Mediation Act 2017 by encouraging greater use of alternative dispute resolution to assist in more timely resolution of family law cases.

The waiting time for a Family Law hearing in the High Court is currently 2 months. The waiting times in the Circuit and District Family Courts are set out in the following tables.

District Court Waiting Times November 2019 (All waiting times shown in weeks)

Office

Family law domestic Violence Applications (1)

Family law Maintenance/Guardianship Applications (2)

Athlone

Next sitting

Next sitting

Ballina

Next sitting

Next sitting

Bray

Next sitting

3-6

Carlow

12

12

Carrick on Shannon

Next sitting

4-8 (Next sitting)

Castlebar

Next sitting

8 (6)

Cavan

Next sitting

16

Clonakilty

2-4

4-6 (2-4)

Clonmel

4-6

4-8

Cork

14

14

Donegal

Next sitting

Next sitting

Dublin

13 (14)

13 (14)

Dundalk

4-8 (Next sitting)

4-6

Ennis

Next sitting

6-8

Galway

4

4-8

Kilkenny

2-4

4-8

Letterkenny

Next sitting

13

Limerick

8

12

Longford

Next sitting

4

Loughrea

Next sitting

8

Mallow

Next sitting

Next sitting

Monaghan

Next sitting

Next sitting

Mullingar

Next sitting

8

Naas

Next sitting

12-24

Nenagh

2-4

8 (16)

Portlaoise

Next sitting

12-16

Roscommon

Next sitting

12

Sligo

Next sitting

Next sitting

Tralee

4

4

Trim

3-6 (10-12)

3-6 (12)

Tullamore

Next sitting

12

Waterford

6

6

Wexford

Next sitting

10-12

Youghal

Next sitting

Next sitting

* Urgent interim applications are dealt with immediately i.e. on next sitting day in every District (1) Time from receipt of application to listing for hearing in domestic violence matters

(2) As (1) but for other family law applications

Circuit Court

Waiting times in November 2019 (All waiting times shown in months)

Office

Family Law

Family Law

Family Law

Contested

Non-contested

Appeals

(1)

(2)

(3)

Carlow

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Carrick on Shannon

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Castlebar

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Cavan

9

Next sitting

Next sitting

Clonmel

3-6 (Next sitting)

Next sitting

Next sitting

Cork

6-9

Next sitting

Next sitting

Dublin

0.5 - 4 (0.5 -3) **

1 (1-2)

1

Dundalk

6-12

Next sitting

6-12

Ennis

6

Next sitting

6

Galway

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Kilkenny

6-9

Next sitting

Next sitting

Letterkenny

6-9

Next sitting

6-9

Limerick

Next sitting

Next sitting

3-6

Longford

6-9

Next sitting

Next sitting

Monaghan

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Mullingar

3-6

Next sitting

3-6

Naas

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Portlaoise

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Roscommon

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Sligo

9-12 (6-12)

Next sitting

Next sitting

Tralee

Next sitting

Next sitting

Next sitting

Trim

6-9

Next sitting

6-9

Tullamore

6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Waterford

3-6

Next sitting

Next sitting

Wexford

6-10

Next sitting

3-6

Wicklow

6-9

3-6

3-6

** 3 months for a guaranteed priority hearing, 2 weeks as a backup to a priority hearing (if priority case settles or does not proceed)

(2) Time from receipt of notice of trial/notice of motion to listening for hearing in contested matter

(3) As (2) but for uncontested matters.

Road Traffic Offences Data

Ceisteanna (240)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

240. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of drivers disqualified in court in 2018 by District Court area; the number of licences surrendered to the Road Safety Authority in 2018; the number disqualified in court to date in 2019 by District Court area; the number of driver licences surrendered to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48800/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information sought cannot be provided in the time available. As soon as the information has been collated I will write to the Deputy on the matter.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Reports

Ceisteanna (241, 242)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

241. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to a Leader's Question by this Deputy on 13 November 2019, if the GSOC report on the circumstances regarding the death of a person (details supplied) has been made available to the person's family and solicitor; if not, when they will receive correspondence regarding the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48803/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

242. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to a Leader's Question by this Deputy on 13 November 2019, if the DPP now has the GSOC report regarding the case of a person (details supplied) and the investigations into the circumstances of the person's death; if so, if further action will be taken on the recommendations of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 and 242 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is an independent body tasked with investigation of complaints in relation to members of An Garda Síochána.

I am informed that GSOC conducted a criminal investigation into the matters referred to and sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions and that the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that there be no prosecution in the matter.

I am further informed that the second report referred to by the Deputy relates to a report prepared by GSOC for the Garda Commissioner, following GSOC's disciplinary investigation into the recording and publication of video footage of the arrest of the person referred to. I would point out that any decision around the application of the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007 following receipt of the GSOC report is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I am informed that GSOC has provided reasons in writing to the family referred to as to why they cannot be provided with a copy of the report in question.

As the matter is ongoing, the Deputy will appreciate that I cannot comment further on it.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Ceisteanna (243, 244)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

243. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a CCTV application by a council (details supplied); the stage the application is at; when it will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48812/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

244. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of CCTV schemes that have been approved for funding since the scheme commenced; the number of schemes approved to date in 2019; if each local authority is signed up to the scheme; the areas that have been successful with their applications in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48813/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 244 together.

Community-based CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006. This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,

- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller, and

- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded and these key legal requirements have not changed since 2006. The option to establish a Community CCTV scheme is available to groups that meet these legal requirements, anywhere in the country.

Since 2017, my Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area. To date, 22 applications have been approved under the scheme, involving approved grants totalling more than €560,000. The location of the CCTV schemes which have been approved for funding are as follows:

- Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim

- Cranmore, Co. Sligo

- Arklow, Co. Wicklow

- Courttown/Riverchapel, Gorey and Wexford Town, Co. Wexford

- Abbeyfeale, Adare, Askeaton, Caherconlish, Cappamore, Castleconnell, Croom, Foynes, Kilmallock, Newcastlewest, Pallasgreen, Patrickswell, Murroe and Rathkeale, Co Limerick

- Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan

- St Mullins, Co. Carlow

I can confirm that an application for CCTV grant aid from the area referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department earlier this year. This application was refused in July 2019 as it did not meet the 3 statutory requirements for Community CCTV. The applicant was notified by letter of this decision - but I would emphasise that it remains open to them to reapply for funding once they apply for and secure the approvals required by the law for all Community CCTV systems.

Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities nationwide, can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000.

As the Deputy may be aware, earlier this year I expanded the grant aid scheme to cover not only new CCTV systems but also to allow funding applications for extension or upgrade of existing Community CCTV systems which are incomplete or obsolete. Applicants can now also seek a once-off grant of up to €5,000 for minor maintenance costs.

The scheme remains open for applications from interested groups in 2019 and all fully completed applications received before the end of 2019 will be considered. Further, I am also pleased to announce that I have recently approved extension of the CCTV grant aid scheme for a further year in 2020.

I must emphasise that grant funding can be considered only for CCTV systems which meet the legal requirements for CCTV, in other words CCTV systems which have been approved by the relevant Joint Policing Committee, the relevant Local Authority (also acting as Data Controller) and which have received the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address fundsadmin-comm-based-cctv@justice.ie.

Prison Accommodation

Ceisteanna (245)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

245. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional number of prison places made available in each year to date since March 2011 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The information sought by the Deputy is detailed and I regret that it has not been possible for the Irish Prison Service to collate the information requested in the timeframe available. I have requested the Irish Prison Service to collate this information and I will write directly to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Departmental Investigations

Ceisteanna (246)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

246. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will extend the brief of an investigation (details supplied) into the payment of protection money to cover other building projects since 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48963/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy refers to a review by a Senior Counsel, appointed by my colleague the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, in relation to alleged payments by construction companies on specified social housing construction sites in order to address anti-social behaviour.

I understand from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government that the review is being conducted in accordance with Section 224 of the Local Government Act 2001.

The Deputy will appreciate that the review and its scope is a matter for my colleague Minister Murphy.

Commissions of Investigation

Ceisteanna (247)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

247. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will establish the two outstanding commissions of investigation which were recommended by the final report on the independent commission of inquiry into the murder of a person (details supplied) by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights in March 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48964/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The murder of Seamus Ludlow was a callous and senseless act of random violence perpetrated against an innocent man. I have the utmost sympathy for the Ludlow family who feel the pain of his loss every day. It is a matter of profound regret that, in common with so many troubles related deaths, nobody has yet been brought to justice for his murder.

The Barron Commission of Inquiry carried out an extensive investigation into the circumstances of the Seamus Ludlow case and Judge Barron submitted his report to the then Taoiseach in 2004. The report was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, a sub-committee of which held a series of public hearings and issued a report in March 2006.

That there were serious failures in the original Garda investigation is beyond question. In the course of the sub-committee hearings, the then former Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne, the then Commissioner, Noel Conroy, and the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Michael McDowell, apologised to the Ludlow family for the way in which they had been treated by the Gardaí at the time.

There have been four separate Garda investigations: the initial (and flawed investigation); in1979/1980; in 1996/1999; and following the Barron Report. The Garda investigation is not closed and if further evidence comes to light that might permit a prosecution then expect that the matter would be re-considered by the DPP.

A second Coroner’s inquest into Mr Ludlow’s death was directed by the Attorney General, in September 2005 which returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Neither I, nor my predecessors have been of the view that this case meets the statutory threshold for the establishment of a Commission of Investigation. There are litigation proceedings underway in relation to this which are due to be heard before the Court of Appeal at a future date. As this matter is before the Courts, I cannot add anything further.

I again extend my deepest sympathies to the Ludlow family.

International Protection

Ceisteanna (248)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

248. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the date for the finalisation of the policy on the new inspection process for compliance with the national standards for accommodation of persons in the international protection process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48965/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

On 15 August, Minister Flanagan and I published the National Standards for accommodation offered to people in the international protection process. The Standards were prepared by a Standards Advisory Group, established in 2017 and comprising officials from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the HSE National Office for Social Inclusion as well as representatives from UNHCR Ireland, AkiDwA, the Children's Rights Alliance, the Core Group of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, the Jesuit Refugee Service and SPIRASI. The Standards will come into force in January 2021.

The Standards address a range of themes including accommodation; food and catering; individual, community and family life; health and wellbeing; governance; and meeting the special reception needs of applicants. They build upon the important work of the 2015 McMahon Report and implement the requirements of the EU recast Reception Conditions Directive, which we voluntarily opted into last year.

I am committed to developing a robust independent inspection process to monitor and ensure compliance with the Standards following their implementation. It is important to note, however, that at present all accommodation centres are subject to regular unannounced inspections by both staff of my Department and an independent inspector.

The on-going public procurement process for accommodation was also designed to ensure that all centres will adhere to the National Standards.

Work on the development of a suitable inspection process for the Standards is underway. The arrangements will be announced in due course when finalised.

Freedom of Information Requests

Ceisteanna (249)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

249. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of a freedom of information request (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48972/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, I have no involvement in processing Freedom of Information requests nor am I involved in reviews of requests.

I can confirm that a response to the Freedom of Information request was issued by my Department on 25 November 2019 to the requester. If the requester is dissatisfied with the decision, they have the right to seek a review, details of which have been provided in their decision letter.

Departmental Reviews

Ceisteanna (250)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

250. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the review of the administration of civil justice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49031/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Group reviewing the administration of civil justice in the State is continuing its work. Chaired by the President of the High Court, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly, the Group is expected to make recommendations for changes with a view to improving access to civil justice in the State, promoting early resolution of disputes, reducing the cost of litigation, creating a more responsive and proportionate system, and ensuring better outcomes for court users.

It will also take into account the body of work and range of initiatives already developed such as the 2010 Report of the Law Reform Commission on Consolidation and Reform of the Courts, as well as the legal costs provisions of the Legal Services Regulatory Act 2015, among others.

The Review Group includes representatives from the: judiciary; Courts Service; Departments of Justice and Equality, Taoiseach and Public Expenditure and Reform; Bar Council; Law Society; Office of the Chief State Solicitor and the Office of the Attorney General.

The Group requested submissions from interested persons or parties in relation to its work. The broad topical areas to be pursued by the Group will, in an overall context of improving access to justice and reducing costs of litigation, be:

(a) Improving procedures and practices and removal of obsolete, unnecessary or over-complex rules of procedure,

(b) Reviewing the law of discovery,

(c) Encouraging alternative methods of dispute resolution,

(d) Reviewing the use of electronic methods of communications including e-litigation and possibilities for making court documents (including submissions and pleadings) available or accessible on the internet,

(e) Achieving more effective outcomes for court users, particularly vulnerable court users.

I understand the Group received over 90 submissions including from individuals, Government Departments, legal practitioners and the judiciary. Those submissions are currently under consideration and a final report is being drafted.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (251)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

251. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if legislation will be introduced to make it illegal to sell scrap metal for cash in view of the fact that there has been an increase in the theft of catalytic converters from cars in the Dublin area; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2013 to help prevent thefts along these lines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49037/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy referred to the theft of catalytic converters from cars.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 provides for offences of theft, the handling of stolen property and the possession of stolen property. The offence of theft provided for by this legislation would, based on the broad nature of the offence, include the theft of ‘scrap metal’ and ‘catalytic converters.’ Maximum sentences of 10 years are provided for in the case of offences of theft and handling of stolen property; while maximum sentences of 5 years are provided for the offence of possession of stolen property.

Irish law relating to the sale and purchase of scrap metal is a matter for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and arises under the Waste Management Act 1996. The Waste Management (Facility Permit and Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (S.I. No 320 of 2014) apply to the sale and purchase of scrap metals and were designed to improve the traceability of such scrap metal sales. The regulations impose an obligation on businesses to apply due diligence measures to ensure the traceability of any waste purchased.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that officials from my Department are also involved in the Metal Theft Forum, which is a collaborative working group between State stakeholders and industry representatives to improve information sharing around the issue of metal theft. The Forum is chaired by An Garda Síochána and includes representatives from my Department, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the EPA, An Post and a wide range of non-State representatives including telecoms companies, the ESB and others.