Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (276)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

276. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to update the Succession Act 1965; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50015/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

While I have no immediate plans to amend the Succession Act 1965, the operation of the law in this area is kept under on-going review in my Department.

In this context, I should add that the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality has engaged in pre-legislative scrutiny of the Civil Liability (Amendment) (Prevention of Benefits from Homicide) Bill 2017 and I am currently awaiting the Committee’s Report on the Bill.

The objective of this Private Members Bill is to provide for the effects in civil law of the following principles:

That a person should be precluded from benefitting from committing any homicide;

No cause of action arises from one's own wrongful act.

My Department is working with the Office of the Attorney General to finalise Committee Stage amendments to the Private Members Bill. The Bill raises a number of complex legal issues, which are being addressed with the Office of the Attorney General. Resolution of those issues may require amendments to the Succession Act 1965.

Road Traffic Legislation

Ceisteanna (277)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

277. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to update the enabling legislation on red light running cameras. [50068/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, legislative provisions in relation to evidence of speeding and certain related offences are included in the Road Traffic Acts, within the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD. In terms of enforcement, I can confirm that record resources are now being provided to An Garda Síochána - a total of €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019 and this is increasing further to a total of €1.882 billion in 2020. Very significant capital investment is also being made, amounting to a total of €92 million this year and increasing further to over €116 million in 2020. The Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of these resources, in light of identified operational demands.

The Deputy may also be interested to know of my Department's current work in relation to the recommendation contained in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland that An Garda Síochána develop a plan to deploy body worn cameras. The Implementation Plan for that report - A Policing Service for the Future - includes a related action in relation to legislative preparation for deployment of body worn cameras.

In June 2019, the Government approved the drafting of the general scheme of a Bill to allow for the introduction of body worn cameras by the Gardaí. My Department is working to progress a Bill to deal with that and related matters – it is intended to publish these proposals in 2020. Both privacy and data protection issues are being fully addressed during the drafting of the general scheme of the Bill. Relevant stakeholders such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission have been consulted.

Direct Provision Data

Ceisteanna (278)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

278. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons granted legal status to remain residing within direct provision services by county. [50106/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As requested by the Deputy, the table below provides a breakdown by county of those who have been granted a legal status to remain in the State and who are residing in accommodation provided by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department. The figures relate to the position as of 28 November 2019.

County

Numbers

Cavan

2

Clare

37

Cork

101

Dublin

81

Galway

62

Kerry

29

Kildare

34

Laois

33

Limerick

28

Longford

7

Louth

20

Mayo

25

Meath

222

Monaghan

5

Offaly

1

Sligo

12

Tipperary

34

Waterford

46

Wicklow

3

Westmeath

35

TOTAL

817

My Department has a specific team who work in collaboration with DePaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Peter McVerry Trust, officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association to collectively support residents with status or permission to remain to access housing options.

Since the beginning of this year, a total of 732 people have transitioned out of accommodation centres. Approximately 500 of these people moved with the assistance of the services and supports outlined above.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (279)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

279. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the supports available to persons in Mosney direct provision centre who have been granted leave to remain and are seeking alternative accommodation; and the external agencies that are part of the process of support. [50107/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food and a range of other services (including utilities and healthcare etc.) to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their legal claim is being examined.

Residents who have been granted an international protection status (refugee status or subsidiary protection status) or a permission to remain are no longer in the international protection process. They have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and EEA nationals. Currently, there are 222 residents with some form of status in Mosney.

Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of our accommodation centres and into permanent accommodation. My Department has a specific team in the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) unit working on this. Their work is enhanced through the funded transitional support work provided by DePaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Peter McVerry Trust. In the case of the Mosney accommodation centre, DePaul Ireland provides targeted assistance to the residents with status or permission to remain regarding their housing options. I can inform the Deputy, since the start of the year, DePaul has assisted 110 residents in Mosney to move into the wider community.

Additionally, my Department is liaising with officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers' Association to support all residents with permission to remain in accessing housing options.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (280, 281, 282)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

280. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the health services available to persons resident in Mosney direct provision centre; the specialist services available; the mental health services available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50108/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

281. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if direct advocacy services are available to persons resident in Mosney direct provision centre. [50109/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

282. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the transport services available to persons resident in Mosney direct provision centre. [50110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 to 282, inclusive, together.

I can inform the Deputy that all international protection applicants including those who are resident in the Mosney Accommodation Centre access health services and supports including mental health services on the same basis as nationals. The services are mainstreamed and are therefore provided through the Department of Health and the HSE. Residents access GP services through the GMS scheme and are exempt from prescription charges. A fully staffed Medical Centre is located within Mosney. A doctor and a nurse attend each weekday. At weekends, an out of hours Doctor-On-Call Service is available for any urgent medical needs.

With regard to transport, all residents in the centre can avail of a shuttle bus that operates Monday to Saturday (including bank holidays) from Mosney to Drogheda. A church service to Julianstown is also provided every Sunday at 10.30am. A taxi service is available to management to cater for urgent and emergency situations, which may arise for residents. A courtesy car is also available at all times to cater for any other urgent needs for example, taking a parent to collect a sick child from school, etc.

Children living in Mosney attend nine local primary schools and four secondary schools. Bus Eireann School Transport provides transport for all children to and from school each day to schools in Julianstown, Drogheda, Duleek, Tullyallen, Donore, Bettystown and Drumcar.

Regarding more general services and supports for residents, I wish to inform the Deputy that substantial improvements have been made to the reception system in recent years in particular since our voluntary opt-in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive. Residents have access to the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children and over 3,400 labour market access permissions have been granted to eligible applicants including over 2,500 permissions to residents in accommodation centres.

In August, Minister Flanagan and I published new National Standards for accommodation centres. These Standards were developed by an Advisory Group including representatives from UNHCR Ireland and the NGO sector. They provide a framework for the continued development of person-centred, high-quality, safe and effective services and supports for residents living in our accommodation centres. Their purpose is to improve the quality of care and ensure consistency across all accommodation centres.

All accommodation centres including Mosney have 'Friends of the Centre' groups in place, which promote integration by facilitating links between the residents and local community, voluntary and sporting groups.

The provision of services and supports for residents is kept under review. In that regard, a high level interdepartmental Group, established in my Department, is currently reviewing the implementation of the State's legal obligations under the EU Directive (2013/33/EU) including access to work and the services offered to applicants while their applications are being considered. In addition, an Advisory group, chaired by the former Secretary General of the European Commission, Dr. Catherine Day will advise on the development of a long-term approach to the provision of support including accommodation for people in the international protection process.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (283)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

283. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of recommendations of the McMahon report that have and have not been implemented, respectively in each direct provision setting and service nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50111/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Report of the Working Group to Report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers, also known as the Justice McMahon Report, was published in June 2015. Its 173 recommendations have implications for a number of Government Departments and services.

My Department has published three progress reports on the implementation of the recommendations; the first in June 2016, the second in February 2017 and a third and final report in July of 2017. All three reports are available to view on my Department's website www.justice.ie. The final progress report shows that 133 recommendations have been reported as fully implemented and a further 36 are in progress or partially implemented. This represents a 98% full or partial implementation rate.

While I do not propose to go through the recommendations in detail, I would like to note some important developments in some areas relevant to my Department:

The key recommendation underpinning the Justice McMahon Report was to address the length of time taken to process applications, which can lead to long stays in State provided accommodation. With the commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, we now have a single application procedure. This is the biggest reform to our protection process in two decades. It means that an applicant has all aspects of their claim (refugee status, subsidiary protection status, and permission to remain), examined and determined in one process. The aim is to provide first instance decisions in the shortest possible timeframe.

It has also been noted by a number of commentators, including Justice McMahon himself, that substantial improvements have been made to the Direct Provision system in recent years. Over half of all residents now having access to cooking facilities. It remains my Department’s target that all centres will be capable of providing independent living facilities by the end of next year. Since the publication of the Report, we have more than doubled the weekly allowance for children. Since 25 March 2019, the weekly payments for applicants living in accommodation centres rose to €38.80 per week for adults and €29.80 per week for children.

Residents of accommodation centres may now directly access the services of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children and information on this right is made available to all residents.

In August, Minister Flanagan and I published new National Standards for accommodation centres. These Standards were developed through an Advisory Group including representatives from UNHCR Ireland and the NGO sector. The Standards will come into force in January 2021 and will address a range of themes including accommodation; food and catering; individual, community and family life; health and well-being; governance; and meeting the special reception needs of applicants. These reforms build on the work done in the McMahon Report and meet the requirements of the EU Recast Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU) which we voluntarily opted into last year.

Access to the labour market has been introduced for eligible applicants. Since its introduction, over 3,400 labour market access permissions have been granted including over 2,500 permissions to residents living in accommodation centres.

Improvements continue to be implemented across the facilities and services provided to those in the protection process and this work will continue. A High Level Interdepartmental Group chaired by my Department has been established, tasked with ensuring better coordination of the provision of services and with meeting the needs of applicants in the short to medium term. In addition, an Advisory Group chaired by the former Secretary General of the European Commission, Dr. Catherine Day has also been established. This Group will advise on the development of a long-term approach to the provision of supports including accommodation to people in the international protection process.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (284)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

284. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if additional information will be provided further to his officials noting at the Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts the establishment of a unit to support persons leaving direct provision centres dedicated to working with direct provision centre managers, local authorities and non-governmental organisations; and the status of plans for the unit. [50112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, residents who have been granted an international protection status (refugee status or subsidiary protection status) or a permission to remain have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and EEA nationals. Currently, there are approximately 819 residents with status or permission to remain.

Considerable work is being undertaken to support these residents to move out of accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation. My Department has a specific team working in the International Protection Accommodation Service unit who work in collaboration with DePaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Peter McVerry Trust, officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and the City and County Managers Association to collectively support residents with permission to remain to access housing options.

Since the beginning of the year, a total of 732 people have transitioned out of accommodation centres. Approximately 500 of these people moved with the assistance of the services and supports outlined above.

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (285)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

285. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí assigned to County Wicklow in each of the past ten years by district and by speciality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50195/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. I am assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of resources.

A record €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019 and this is increasing further to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. Significant capital investment is also being made, amounting to a total of €92 million this year and rising further to over €116 million in 2020.

This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff and as a result, An Garda Síochána is a growing organisation. We now have over 14,300 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,900 Garda staff.

Specifically in relation to Wicklow, I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2019, there were 310 Gardaí assigned to the Wicklow Division, supported by 32 Garda staff. I am informed that the total number of Garda staff in the Division has increased from 22 in 2015, which represents a 45% increase in Garda staff in the Wicklow Division. I am further informed that as of 22 October 2019, this increase in Garda staff has supported the redeployment of 11 Gardaí from administrative to operational policing duties in the Wicklow Division, where their training and expertise can be used to best effect. Taken together, the increase in Garda staff and redeployment of Gardaí from administrative duties means a significant increase in operational policing hours in Wicklow in recent years.

With regard to the breakdown of Gardaí by speciality in the years 2009-2019, I have been advised by the Garda authorities that compiling this information for the full 10 year period requested would represent an excessive use of Garda time and resources. Given this, I am not in a position to provide that specific information requested by the Deputy.

However, in relation to the overall information requested on the number of Gardaí assigned to County Wicklow from 2009 -2019 the Deputy may find it helpful to be aware that this information is available on my Department’s website. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. This information is available at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009

_to_October_2019.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_October_2019.xlsx

Information on Garda staff is available at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Staff

For more information on the Garda Workforce as well as general information on Garda facts and figures, the Deputy may also wish to see the information on the links below:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (286)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

286. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the ratio of total gardaí per population size assigned to County Wicklow and other divisions in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

A record €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019 and this is increasing further to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. Significant capital investment is also being made, amounting to a total of €92 million this year and rising further to over €116 million in 2020.

This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff and as a result, An Garda Síochána is a growing organisation.

Since the Garda College reopened in late 2014, 59 newly attested Gardaí have been assigned to the Wicklow Division by the Garda Commissioner, including 4 from the most recent attestation last Friday.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2019, there were 310 Gardaí assigned to the Wicklow Division, supported by 32 Garda staff. I am further informed that the total number of Garda staff in the Division has increased from 22 in 2015, which represents a 45% increase in Garda staff in the Wicklow Division. I am further informed that as of 22 October 2019, this increase in Garda staff has supported the redeployment of 11 Gardaí from administrative to operational policing duties in the Wicklow Division, where their training and expertise can be used to best effect. Taken together, the increase in Garda staff and redeployment of Gardaí from administrative duties means a significant increase in operational policing hours in Wicklow in recent years. In addition, it should be recalled that Garda National Units support Garda Divisions on an ongoing basis.

As requested by the Deputy, attached is a table outlining the ratio of total Gardaí to population size assigned to Wicklow and all other Divisions (i.e. excluding National Units) in the past five years. However, An Garda Síochána has pointed out and it is important to note that ratios such as the number of Gardai per head of population are not an appropriate tool to use when considering the allocation of Garda resources as they fail to take account of, among other things, the fact that crime levels and types can vary significantly among communities of similar population size.

I am informed by the Commissioner that a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfers applications, and welfare issues impact upon the allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel. I am assured that comprehensive consultation occurs with local Garda management during which all the above-mentioned factors are considered. I am further assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure optimum use of resources.

Further information is available in the following link.

Garda Strengths

Legal Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (287)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

287. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Legal Services Regulatory Authority has been fully established; the activities the authority has been engaged in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) was established on 1 October 2016 and its Chair and initial membership were appointed at that time. On 7 October last, I signed a Commencement Order which brought the following key remaining reforms of the 2015 Act into effect:

- The new public complaints and professional conduct regime which will be administered by the Authority and is supported separately by a new and independent Legal Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal.

- The new and more consumer-friendly legal costs transparency requirements on legal practitioners supported separately by the new Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators and a Schedule of Legal Costs Principles.

- The roll-out of Limited Liability Partnerships.

- The establishment by the Authority of a new Advisory Committee on the Grant of Patents of Precedence for the conferral of Senior Counsel.

In March of this year, the Authority also completed its first review of the operation of the Legal Services Regulation Act under the terms of Section 6 of the Act.

Further work by the Authority is also on-going including:

- The completion of its review of the provision of legal professional education under section 34 of the 2015 Act on which it has made an initial report and held a follow-up seminar in September of this year. I anticipate that the final report will be completed early next year.

- New legal services advertising regulations for both solicitors and barristers will be introduced by the Authority in Q1 of next year under the terms of section 218 of the 2015 Act. The Authority is conducting consultations with stakeholders.

Details of the Authority’s strategic plan, reports and minutes continue to be made publicly available on its website, www.lsra.ie as well as being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas where required under the 2015 Act. The website also includes details of a series of public consultations and reports on specific regulatory issues that the Authority had to complete within set deadlines under the 2015 Act in the period following its establishment. The Authority has also recruited additional staff and secured a lease on a new office premises from January in support of the effective delivery of its functions.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (288)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

288. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the funding allocated to an area (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50245/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information that he has requested is not generally held on a per-locality basis and it is not possible to provide a comprehensive answer across the activities of my Department for the time period specified.

Further, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, including decisions with respect to capital investment in Garda stations. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters.

However, to be assistance to the Deputy, I have requested information on this matter from An Garda Síochána and I will provide it directly to the Deputy once it is received. I have also set out below an illustrative example of investment in the area.

An Accommodation Centre for International Protection Applicants opened in Horseleap, Moate, Co. Westmeath in April 2018. As the Deputy will be aware, while a claim for International Protection is being examined, the State is legally obliged to offer accommodation and related services to anyone without means - which includes all meals, medical care and utilities. A weekly personal allowance is paid to each person in a centre and exceptional needs are covered by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Funding allocated for the establishment and operation of this centre cannot be released at present as it is not in the interests of yielding best value for the taxpayer that details of current individual contracts are made available. This is in accordance with the Department’s policy on disclosure of financial information which was agreed with the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Since the publication of the McMahon Report (Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers), integration efforts have also been focused on the voluntary work of the Friends of the Centre groups, as recommended in the report. Further support was provided through the Communities Integration Fund to the Horseleap/Streamstown Irish Country Women's Association for adapting existing community activities and events within the ICA to make them more inclusive for the migrant community.

Asylum Applications Data

Ceisteanna (289)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

289. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of staff from his Department, the INIS, the RIA or other agencies employed in processing the applications of asylum seekers; the reason the process is taking a long time resulting in persons spending years in direct provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50267/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland, like other countries, is obliged by EU and international law to examine the claim of any person who comes here and claims international protection under defined grounds. These grounds relate to a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, nationality, religion, political opinions or membership of a particular social group or where the person would be at risk of suffering serious harm if returned to their home country.

Once a claim is made, a legal process begins and while that process is in train, we offer a range of State services to applicants without means, including accommodation, food, health services, utilities, educational provision for children, a weekly personal payment, etc. There is no obligation to accept this offer and some applicants choose to live with family or friends already in the country or to source and provide for their own accommodation if they have independent means.

The International Protection Office (IPO) of my Department is responsible for examining all applications received. The staff of the IPO (the Chief International Protection Officer and the International Protection Officers) are independent by law in the exercise of their international protection functions. There are currently 146 staff employed in the IPO. There are also a further 50 staff employed in the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, which is responsible for hearing appeals against negative first instance recommendations/decisions.

In recent years, a number of measures have been introduced aimed at reducing the time taken to determine applications. The most significant reforming measure has been the introduction of a single application procedure under the International Protection Act 2015. Under the single procedure, all elements of a person's protection claim (refugee status, subsidiary protection status and permission to remain) are considered together rather than sequentially as heretofore.

A person who applies for international protection today can expect to receive a first instance recommendation/decision on their application within approximately 15 months, provided no complications arise. Prioritised cases are currently being processed in just under 9 months. Prioritised applications include those from especially vulnerable groups of applicants, such as unaccompanied minors and applicants from refugee generating countries like Syria and Eritrea. The IPO is working hard to try to achieve a target of 9 months in the vast majority of cases while acknowledging that the processing of applications is complex and that each application deserves and receives an individual assessment.

Last month, the IPO commenced interviews by video conference with applicants based in Cork. This provides greater flexibility to meet the needs of international protection applicants nationwide and it is planned to roll out this service in other locations shortly. In addition, I sought and achieved an additional €1m in Budget 2020 under the Justice and Equality vote, which will allow for extra staffing resources to further improve processing times.

Speeding up the processing of applications has also had a positive impact on the length of time that applicants are spending in accommodation centres. At the end of October, the mean length of stay in an accommodation centre was 21.75 months, down from 38 months in 2015.

Where an applicant has been resident in a centre for many years, there are generally complex reasons involved. For example, the person may have received a negative decision on their application and is exercising their right to appeal including through the courts, which can take some time. Some of those who are longest resident in our centres have already received a status or a permission to remain and are no longer in the international protection process. There are currently around 860 people with status or permission to remain living in the centres. The Deputy will be aware of the general difficulties faced by people trying to source and secure accommodation. With the support of organisations such as DePaul Ireland, the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Peter McVerry Trust, and colleagues from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the City and County Managers’ Association, my Department is assisting these people to transition to mainstream housing.

Garda Training

Ceisteanna (290)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

290. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 809 of 23 July 2019, if a response has issued form the Garda Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50271/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 809 for answer on 23 July 2019 asking if funding will be allocated for the construction of an indoor and outdoor firearm range for training in the use of firearms by armed Gardaí. The Deputy will recall that the information requested could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to consult with An Garda Síochána on the matter. I have received the requested information and can inform the Deputy as follows.

First it is important to note that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that the Garda College has three indoor ranges and has sufficient capacity with outdoor ranges for training in the use of firearms by armed Gardaí. There is also, for example, an indoor firing range at the Galway Divisional Headquarters.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that there are currently no plans to construct an additional indoor or outdoor firing range for training of Garda members.

More generally, the Deputy may wish to be aware that there has been unprecedented investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years, in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country, to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to the public and deter crime.

A record €1.76 billion was allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019 and this is increasing further to an unprecedented €1.882 billion for 2020. Significant capital investment is also being made, amounting to a total of €92 million this year and rising further to over €116 million in 2020. This includes capital investment which is being made in the Garda estate. The Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is based on agreed Garda priorities. It continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by over €60 million exchequer funding. The clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Gardaí and members of the public interacting with them.

Garda Recruitment

Ceisteanna (291)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

291. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 940 to 944, inclusive, of 23 July 2019, if a response has issued from the Garda Commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50272/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I refer to Parliamentary Questions No. 940, 941, 942, 943 and 944 which were for answer on 23 July 2019. The Deputy will recall that the information could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to consult with An Garda Síochána and contact you again. The information requested is now to hand and I would like to thank the Deputy for her patience while I consulted with An Garda Síochána.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for An Garda Síochána including the training of the members and staff. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter. The information which follows sets out the information conveyed to me by the Garda authorities in relation to these matters.

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013. The Public Appointments Service (PAS), on behalf of the Garda Commissioner, manages the initial recruitment stages for selection of Garda Trainees with the final stages of the recruitment process in which candidates are vetted, complete a physical competency test and a medical examination, managed by the Commissioner. I have no direct involvement in the matter.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that all Gardaí recruited since the reopening of the Garda Training College in September 2014 undertake the new 2 year training programme which leads to a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Policing which is accredited by the University of Limerick.

I am informed that as part of the professional Competence Module of the BA in Applied Policing, probationer Gardaí must pass a fitness assessment. I understand that this assessment, which has been in place since the inception of the BA in Applied Policing in 2014, was devised by the Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science at Waterford Institute of Technology. I am assured by the Garda authorities that this is a fair and attainable assessment which ensures that probationer Gardaí have the physical capacity required to perform the full range of physical duties for which they are responsible, such as pursuing fleeing suspects and controlling persons who resist arrest.

I have been previously advised that fitness is an assessment with a Pass/ Fail grade within the Professional Competence Module and must be passed the same as any other assessment within the BA in Applied Policing. I am advised by the Commissioner that the Physical Competency Tests include age specific and gender considerations which are set out in the tables below. An Garda Síochána does not discriminate on the basis of age or gender.

I understand that the assessment requires probationer Gardaí to complete a shuttle test, otherwise known as the "fitness bleep test" which measures cardio fitness and involves continuous running between two lines 20 metres apart in time to recorded beeps which decrease every minute.

Age

Males

Females

18 – 25 years

Level 8.8

Level 7.6

26 – 35 years

Level 8.1

Level 6.6

36 – 45 years

Level 6.6

Level 5.4

The probationer Gardaí also complete tests to measure muscular endurance involving the performance of a number of press-ups and sit-ups subject to a time limit. The level of fitness required to pass each test is adjusted to take account of age and gender.

Sit-up Test:

-

-

Age

Males

Females

18-25 years

35

30

26-35 years

32

27

36-45 years

29

25

Press-up Test:

Age

Males

Females

18-25 years

25

20

26-35 years

22

18

36-45 years

20

16

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that pass and fail rates in relation to the physical competency test aspect of recruitment process are reviewed in advance of the criteria being considered. I am further advised by the Garda authorities that from June 2014 to December 2018 the Garda College Examinations Office has carried out a total of 4,406 competency tests. Of these, 3,240 tests were successful, while 1,166 tests were recorded as being unsuccessful at either one or both elements of the pre- entry test. The Garda authorities have advised that test figures for 2019 will not be available until the end of the year.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (292)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

292. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Bills sponsored by his Department that have been enacted since November 2013, in tabular form. [50323/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Primary Department of Justice and Equality legislation enacted since November 2013

Title of Act

Date of Enactment

Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution (Court of Appeal) Act 2013

1 November 2013

Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014

16 April 2014

Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014

22 June 2014

Court of Appeal Act 2014

20 July 2014

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014

27 July 2014

Garda Síochána (Amendment) Act 2015

9 March 2015

Redress for Women Resident in CertainInstitutions Act 2015

18 March 2015

Children and Family Relationships Act 2015

6 April 2015

Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Act 2015

1 June 2015

Civil Debt (Procedures) Act 2015

27 July 2015

Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Act 2015

28 July 2015

Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Act 2015

29 August 2015

Marriage Act 2015

29 October 2015

Choice of Court (Hague Convention) Act 2015

25 November 2015

Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) (Amendment) Act 2015

1 December 2015

Garda Síochána (Policing Authority and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015

18 December 2015

Courts Act 2015

20 December 2015

Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015

24 December 2015

Prisons Act 2015

25 December 2015

Bankruptcy (Amendment) Act 2015

25 December 2015

Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015

30 December 2015

International Protection Act 2015

30 December 2015

Legal Services Regulation Act 2015

30 December 2015

Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016

11 February 2016

Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016

27 July 2016

Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016

27 July 2016

Commission of Investigation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation) Act 2016

27 July 2016

Courts Act 2016

28 December 2016

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017

22 February 2017

Criminal Justice (Suspended Sentences of Imprisonment) Act 2017

15 March 2017

Courts Act 2017

17 May 2017

Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017

24 May 2017

Criminal Justice Act 2017

28 June 2017

Independent Reporting Commission Act 2017

26 July 2017

Mediation Act 2017

2 October 2017

Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017

17 November 2017

Civil Liability (Amendment) Act 2017

22 November 2017

Public Service Superannuation (Amendment) Act 2018

28 February 2018

Domestic Violence Act 2018

8 May 2018

Data Protection Act 2018

24 May 2018

Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018

05 June 2018

Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Act 2018

22 July 2018

Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018

14 November 2018

Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Act 2018

27 November 2018

Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018

26 December 2018

Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2019

26 February 2019

Criminal Law (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction) Act 2019

5 March 2019

Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Act 2019

7 July 2019

Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Act 2019

10 July 2019

Courts Act 2019

23 July 2019

Coroners (Amendment) Act 2019

23 July 2019

Parole Act 2019

23 July 2019

Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Act 2019

23 July 2019

Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions (Amendment) Act 2019

23 July 2019

Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019(Sponsored by the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection)

24 October 2019

Family Law Act 2019

25 October 2019

Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (293)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

293. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the overall allocation on the special employment initiative in each year since 2015; the allocation for 2020; the actual spend in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50397/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015 - 2024 sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are able to, and want to, work are supported and enabled to do so. People with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age. The reasons for this are complex, and include employer know-how, low expectations, and limited re-entry to work following onset of a disability, as well as a higher incidence of ill-health.

The Strategy is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different departments and state agencies in a concerted effort to address the barriers and challenges that impact on employment of people with disabilities. In tandem with that, it seeks to ensure there will be joined-up services and supports at local level to support individuals on their journey into and in employment.

The Strategy's six strategic priorities are to:

- Build skills, capacity and independence; - Provide bridges and supports into work; - Make work pay; - Promote job retention and re-entry to work; - Provide co-ordinated and seamless support; - Engage employers.

The Strategy is monitored and overseen by the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group under an independent chair (Mr. Fergus Finlay). This group meets six times a year in order to review progress and prioritise areas of work.

The second phase of the Strategy was launched today, 3 December 2019 in the form of a new three year action plan. The plan includes a range of actions to advance the six strategic priorities and provides a focus for the work of the Implementation Group for the next period in the lifetime of the Strategy.

The key issue in relation to the implementation of the Strategy is the co-ordination of departmental efforts in this area, and therefore, while individual actions in the Strategy may have additional cost implications that will need to be included in the votes of the relevant departments, taken as a whole, the focus is on better co-ordination and use of existing resources, rather than on additional funding allocations.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (294)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

294. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on the proposal by the European Council for mandating disclosure of country-by-country reporting by multinational companies to highlight the issue of tax avoidance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50300/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The proposal for a Directive to amend Directive 2013/34/EU (the Accounting Directive) as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches (country by country reporting) was made by the European Commission in April 2016.

Ireland supports transparency. However, in relation to this proposal on public country by country reporting of income tax, Ireland supported a joint statement to the Competitiveness Council (on 28 November 2019) which agreed with the Council Legal Service that the legal base for this proposal should be a tax base (Article 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), and therefore, should be considered by Ecofin Council. Moreover, we consider that this measure should have the benefit of tax expertise to ensure that it is consistent with existing reporting requirements and, importantly, with the international cooperation and exchange of information arrangements, which are based on confidentiality. Tax experts are best placed to ensure that international efforts to collect income tax from multinational corporations will not be undermined by new measures.

Company Registration

Ceisteanna (295)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

295. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her attention has been drawn to significant issues that arose recently for companies that must register their beneficial owners with the register of beneficial ownership (details supplied); if this system can be streamlined in order to ensure the file of the registration details is informed of the precise reason for rejection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50410/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Since November 2016 under the European Communities (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016 companies have been obliged to obtain and hold information in respect of the natural persons who are their beneficial owners/controllers.

The European Union (Anti-Money Laundering: Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019 (S.I. No. 110 of 2019) were made by the Minister for Finance and provide that the Central Register of Beneficial Ownership of Companies and Industrial and Provident Societies (RBO) is the central repository of such information held by companies and industrial and provident societies.

The objectives of the beneficial ownership provisions being implemented are to strengthen transparency over who ultimately owns and controls companies and trusts to effectively detect, disrupt and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

The deadline for filing was set out in the Regulations and was November 22, 2019.

Due to technical difficulties with the RBO portal on the evening of November 22, I understand some companies and industrial and provident societies may have been unable to file Beneficial Ownership details for a period of time. Accordingly, any submissions filed with the RBO by midnight on November 25 will be deemed by the RBO as having been received on time.

The numbers filing increased significantly as the deadline of November 22 approached. The latest data from the RBO shows that as of November 27 157,577 companies had successfully registered beneficial ownership details with the RBO. This represents 69% of the total number of registered companies. There are also approximately 10,000 submissions currently at processing stage so the RBO expect the numbers registered to increase further.

While I am sympathetic to the challenges being faced by small and micro enterprises in meeting their filing obligations, companies and industrial and provident societies have been legally obligated to be in possession of much of the information required for central filing since November 2016. The RBO was very concerned to ensure that relevant entities were aware of their obligations to file with the Register and undertook an extensive Public Awareness Campaign, in the period leading up to and around the opening of the Register on 29 July and in the period leading up to and around the deadline date of 22 November.

Filing with the RBO is free and is a fully electronic process. The RBO Register is designed to accept and register submissions when all details entered are correct. Under Data Protection regulations, the RBO does not have access to the personal details entered by the presenter. Personal details are verified against Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). They are not verified with the Revenue Commissioners.

Full details on registration are provided on the RBO website along with detailed guidance, including “how to” guides and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Enquiries can be submitted by e-mail, although 90% of enquiries received to date are already answered on the FAQ section.

With regard to companies and industrial and provident societies that have missed the deadline, I expect a practical and proportionate approach will be taken by the Registrar on a case by case basis to deal with those particular circumstances where entities who have attempted to file in time with the RBO may have missed the deadline.

Companies and societies which have not done so should file as a matter of urgency.