Student Universal Support Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (124)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

124. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing each SUSI grant by 1%, 5% and 10%, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51055/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The cost of the maintenance grants in the academic year 2018/19 was €164m. Therefore, applying a 1%, 5% and 10% increase to the maintenance grants the estimated cost would be €1.6m, €8.2m and €16.4m respectively.

Student Universal Support Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (125)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

125. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the non-adjacent SUSI grant distance from college by 1, 2, 5, 10 and 15 kilometres, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51056/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

SUSI does not collate data in the format request by the Deputy. Therefore, it is not possible to estimate cost the reducing the non-adjacent distance criterion from 1km to 2km, 10km and 15km.

Budget 2011 provided for a number of student grant measures which came into effect for the 2011/12 academic year, including the change in the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres. The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria for the student grant is estimated to be in the region of €26m. The above costing assumes that a change to the distance criterion would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for the higher non-adjacent grant support, as existed pre Budget 2011.

Student Universal Support Ireland Data

Ceisteanna (126, 127, 128, 129)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

126. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the thresholds for the SUSI grant for PLC students by €1,000, €2,000, €3,000, €4,000, €5,000, €6,000 and €7,000, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51057/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Deering

Ceist:

127. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the thresholds for the SUSI grant for undergraduate students by €1,000, €2,000, €3,000, €4,000, €5,000, €6,000 and €7,000, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51058/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Deering

Ceist:

128. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the thresholds for the SUSI grant for postgraduate students by €1,000, €2,000, €3,000, €4,000, €5,000, €6,000 and €7,000, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Deering

Ceist:

129. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing the thresholds for the SUSI grant for students outside the State by €1,000, €2,000, €3,000, €4,000, €5,000, €6,000 and €7,000, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 to 129, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that there are various income thresholds used depending on the type of grant, family size etc. While SUSI has statistics on those students who have applied for grant support and can estimate with some degree of certainty, what impact changes to the thresholds might have for those students on lower income levels, the accuracy of its estimates become less reliable at the higher income levels. Prospective applicants on higher incomes may not have applied for support as their income was above the relevant threshold. As such, it is not possible to accurately cost the number of additional students who may qualify for support, if the thresholds are increased.

Allowing for the limitations regarding the accuracy of the costings, it is estimated that a 5% increase in the income thresholds would cost in the region of €10m and a 10% increase would cost in the region of €20m. The cost of increasing the threshold by 20% is more difficult to estimate given the potentially large number of students who may benefit but who have not previously applied to SUSI for support. It is therefore estimated that a 20% increase could cost in the region of €50m.

The above figures do not include any changes to the income thresholds for the special rate of maintenance grants which are linked to long-term social welfare payments nor do they include any changes to the post-graduate income thresholds.

Vehicle Registration

Ceisteanna (130)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

130. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 275 of 1 October 2019, when a reply will issue. [50707/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I wish to assure the Deputy that my Department is examining this matter and a response will issue directly to him in the coming days.

Garda Resources

Ceisteanna (131)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

131. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the additional funding provided for extra Garda resources in 2020 in view of recent events in the Border region and in northside areas of Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50710/19]

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, increasing to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020.

The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased. The capital allocation for 2019 amounted to €92 million, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. Capital investment will increase again to over €116 million in 2020, which will provide for continued investment in Garda ICT of approximately €75 million; a further €9 million for the Garda Fleet and approximately €32 million for the Garda estate.

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. It is important to note that the increased recruitment of Garda staff is facilitating the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative to mainstream policing duties where their training and expertise can be used to best effect.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in 2014, approximately 3,000 Garda recruits have been assigned to mainstream policing duties nationwide including 197 who attested last week on 29 November, the final attestation of this year. Taken together, the increase in Gardaí, Garda staff and the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative duties means a significant increase in operational policing hours around the country in recent years.

The Deputy may also be aware that funding has been allocated for 2020 which will allow for the recruitment of up to 700 new Gardaí and additional Garda staff, the balance of which will be for the Commissioner to decide based on operational needs.

It is important to note that 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 informed by the Commissioner that a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfers applications, and welfare issues impact upon the allocation and transfer of Garda personnel amongst the Garda Divisions. 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.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Ceisteanna (132)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

132. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the value of goods and the amount in cash collected by the Criminal Assets Bureau that has gone to the general Exchequer fund to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50757/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a multi-agency statutory body established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996. The Bureau’s remit is to target a person's assets, wherever situated, which derive, or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct. Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in this jurisdiction and disrupting the activities of criminal gangs by depriving them of ill-gotten assets.

The Bureau is widely regarded as a best practice model in the context of combating organised crime. It works closely with law enforcement bodies at national and international levels and continues to relentlessly pursue the illicit proceeds of organised crime activity. The actions of the Bureau send a strong message to criminals and to local communities that profiting from crime will not be tolerated.

Reflecting the Government's commitment to ensure that the Bureau is adequately resourced, the CAB’s staffing and budgetary allocation has increased significantly in recent years. The Bureau's budgetary allocation has gone up from €7.042 million in 2016 to €8.603m in 2019. The Bureau's budget for 2020 has been increased to a total of €9.1 million.

The Proceeds of Crime Acts 1996 - 2016 provide the legal framework underpinning the Bureau's powers to take all necessary actions, including the making of applications to the High Court, in relation to the seizing and securing of assets with a view to their disposal in due course in accordance with the provisions of that legislation.

With regard to the specific information sought by the Deputy, I would point out that Section 21 of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996 requires the Bureau, through the Garda Commissioner, to provide a report of its activities each year to the Minister for Justice and Equality who is then required to lay copies of the report before each House of the Oireachtas.

The Annual Reports (including the most recent, the Annual Report 2018, which was published in June this year) are available in the Oireachtas library and on the website of An Garda Síochána and my own Department. The published reports provide full details of all assets seized and disposed of by the Bureau. Further information can be found at the following address

http://www.cab.ie/en/cab/pages/annualreports.

The final statistics for 2019 are not yet complete or ready for publication. I expect to receive the 2019 report by mid-2020.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Ceisteanna (133)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

133. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to use moneys obtained by the Criminal Assets Bureau from the proceeds of crime in the Drogheda, County Louth, area for reinvestment in drugs and community services directly in the area; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a multi-agency group has been established in a part of the town by the local authority to address social, economic and community development issues in parts of the town most adversely affected by the ongoing feud in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50759/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy could not be compiled in the time available but I will respond directly to her when the information is available.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (134)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

134. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a decision will be made on a visa appeal lodged by a person (details supplied); the reason for the delay in making a decision on the appeal; if such visa appeals are taking ten months to consider; if so, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50767/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

A visa appeal was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in the Visa Office in Dublin on 24 May 2019.

Appeals are processed in the chronological order in which they are received. While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the volume of appeals received, the resources available to process them and the individual complexity of the application and subsequent appeal. Processing times may also vary where a detailed assessment of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights is required.

I cannot, at this time, give a definitive date as to when this particular appeal will be finalised, however, my officials are endeavouring to progress these appeals as quickly as possible.

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.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (135)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

135. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for the delay in issuing a person (details supplied) with a decision on their application for naturalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50768/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, a judgement of the High Court in July of this year in respect of the application of the continuous residence requirement under Section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 (as amended) resulted in a pause in finalising applications for citizenship through naturalisation. The decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal which handed down its decision on Thursday, 14 November 2019. The decision upheld the lawfulness of our residency rules governing citizenship by naturalisation.

Recognising the anxiety and stress that applicants had been under following the High Court judgement I immediately instructed my officials to do all in their power to arrange a citizenship ceremony in December and in early 2020 for applicants who had been approved by me or were awaiting my approval.

I am happy to inform you that the person referred to by you has been invited to attend the next citizenship ceremony which will take place on Monday next 9 December 2019, in the Killarney Convention Centre, Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, Co. Kerry, where he will receive his certificate of naturalisation.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (136)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

136. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50808/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) defines an agency worker as an individual employed by an employment agency under a contract of employment by virtue of which the individual may be assigned to work for, and under the direction and supervision of, a person other than the employment agency.

My Department employs seven agency personnel to provide telephonist/receptionist services in several offices. Further information is provided in the following table.

Location

Staff

Bishop’s Square, Dublin

1

Burgh Quay, Dublin

2

Killarney

1

51 St Stephens Green, Dublin

3

Additionally, the Department avails of specific contractual arrangements to support a range of business needs including the provision of specialist ICT services, audit, business process analysis, and most recently to support a programme of extensive organisational change as part of the Department’s Transformation Programme. Such services are procured in accordance with public sector procurement regulations and guidelines as set out by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP). Staff working under these arrangements are not considered to fall within the scope of agency workers as provided for in the WRC definition.

Personnel matters within agencies and bodies under my Department’s aegis are handled by those agencies and bodies, and I have therefore requested that they respond directly to the Deputy in respect of his question.

Proposed Legislation

Ceisteanna (137)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

137. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce legislation to amend the current laws governing sexual consent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50817/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 has been widely recognised as a landmark piece of legislation dealing with consent and exploitation in sexual activity. For the first time, it set out in statute what consent actually means - a free and voluntary agreement between people to engage in sexual activity.

The 2017 Act also set out a non-exhaustive list of circumstances where consent is impossible, such as when a person is asleep or unconscious; if they are being held captive; if they cannot communicate their agreement due to physical inability or disability; if they are mistaken or misled about who the other person is, or what the activity is; or for example if they are so drunk or intoxicated that they are in no position to consider the activity and make up their mind.

In order for a jury to find a person guilty of rape, three things are necessary.

- Sexual intercourse must have taken place;

- the person must not have consented; and

- the accused person must either have known that person didn’t consent, or been reckless as to whether they consented or not.

During the Oireachtas debate on the Bill, the issue of whether a person’s belief in consent must be reasonably held was discussed in some detail. As the law stands, the mental element of the offence of rape is not present if the accused honestly believed consent was given, so long as that belief was genuine, no matter how unreasonable or irrational. As a result, a person who held a genuine but completely unreasonable belief that the other person consented would not be found guilty of rape.

It was on foot of those debates that the Attorney General and my predecessor as Minister discussed the matter and agreed to refer it to the Law Reform Commission, for detailed consideration.

As the Deputy is aware, the Commission's recently published Report recommends a change in the law to state that the belief of the accused person in consent must be reasonably held. It also touches on some of the surrounding matters which are being examined elsewhere, such as rape myths and stereotypes, obstacles to prosecution in rape cases, the treatment of victims in rape cases and other related matters.

The timing of the Commission's report is particularly welcome, given that the review of protections for vulnerable witness in the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences, chaired by an expert barrister Tom O’Malley, is due to be completed by the end of this year. I intend to consider these two sets of recommendations in tandem, with a view to bringing forward proposals for legislation to implement the recommendations as appropriate, while of course maintaining the necessary fairness and balance inherent in our criminal justice process.

I have no role in the prosecution of offences or convictions for offences, these are entirely matters for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts, who are independent in the exercise of their functions. The Deputy will also appreciate that the conduct of criminal investigations are for the Commissioner and his team, and I have no role as Minister in these matters.

I am informed that An Garda Síochána is continuously improving its specialist services. Responding to the needs of victims and vulnerable persons has seen the rolling out by the Commissioner of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSUs). These Units are staffed by specially trained personnel and will support the delivery of a consistent and professional approach to the investigation of sexual and domestic crime.

DPSUs are tasked with improving services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, improving the investigation of domestic and sexual violence incidents and identifying and managing risk. I am informed that to date, DPSUs have been established in 13 locations nationwide, namely Carlow, Cork City, DMR South Central, DMR West, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth and Waterford Garda Divisions as well as the newly established units in DMR East, DMR South and Tipperary.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is expected that DPSUs should be rolled-out to all Divisions on a phased basis by the end Q1, 2020. Rollout of these units will meet a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future, the four-year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

Juvenile Offenders

Ceisteanna (138)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

138. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of minors referred to the national office on juvenile crime by Garda division in each of the past three years to date in 2019; the number referred to the youth diversion programme for prosecution or other in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50870/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is a statutory programme under Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which focuses on preventing criminal behaviour as well as diversion from the criminal justice system and rehabilitation of children between 10 and 18 years of age. The programme is an essential part of Government strategy to help tackle youth crime, administered by An Garda Síochána, and it is very important that it operates effectively.

As the Deputy may be aware, the operation of the Garda Diversion Programme is monitored by a Committee established under Section 44 of the Children Act 2001, whose annual reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Annual Reports (including the most recent report for 2017) are available on my Department's website at http://www.iyjs.ie/. The published reports provide statistics on referrals to the Garda Diversion Programme.

The specific information sought by the Deputy is set out in tabular form on page 14 of the 2017 report which can be found at the following link; http://www.iyjs.ie/en/IYJS/2017%20Annual%20Report%20of%20Monitoring%20Committee%20(English).pdf/Files/2017%20Annual%20Report%20of%20Monitoring%20Committee%20(English).pdf. It should be noted that the figures set out in that table represent the number of referrals of minors to the Garda Diversion Programme, based on the Division in which the incident resulting in referral occurred.

I understand that the 2018 Report will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as possible. I further understand that the figures for 2019 are not yet available.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that an expert Steering Group is currently developing a new Youth Justice Strategy, including a review of the Children Act. The Steering Group commenced its work in February and has had a series of meetings during this year which will continue into next year.

The Group is tasked with advising and guiding the development of the new Strategy, including consideration of the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, from early intervention and preventative work, including family support, diversion from crime, through to court processes and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release. It is intended that the Strategy will be finalised in the first half of 2020.

Legal Services Regulation

Ceisteanna (139)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

139. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he is taking to open up the education and training for solicitors and barristers in order to achieve greater accountability, independence and competition in these sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50871/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, under this Government, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) was established on 1 October 2016. One of the key functions of that new body is to review and make recommendations to the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to the availability and quality of the education and training for the solicitors’ and barristers’ professions. This includes the curriculum arrangements for the provision of legal education and the methods by which, and the persons by whom, such education and training is provided.

Following an extensive public consultation process as well as both qualitative and quantitative research, the LSRA submitted a detailed and comprehensive report on these matters on 30 September 2018. That report was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 20 November 2018. The report and the submissions made to the public consultation are available on the LSRA’s website at www.lsra.ie.

Based on the evidence gathered, the expert report made a series of 14 proposals to reform legal education and training, including a move to a competency based framework and the establishment of a Legal Practitioner Education and Training (LPET) Committee which would be responsible for setting the statement of competence and defining standards which legal practitioners would achieve on qualification. The LPET Committee would require existing providers of legal education to demonstrate how they meet these standards and to enable new providers to explain how they would seek to meet them.

In its report to me, the Authority outlined that the implementation of these proposals would entail significant change and required careful consideration and informed debate and that legislative change would also be required. In that regard, the LSRA has conducted further consultation with the professional bodies for legal practitioners, the Honourable Society of King’s Inns, the Law Society of Ireland and the Bar of Ireland and with the public and the legal services and education sectors. Furthermore, on 19 September 2019, the Authority hosted a well-attended symposium on legal education and training in Croke Park, at which the views of key stakeholders were aired and the proposals for reform were discussed at length.

The Authority has indicated that it will submit a further report under section 34 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 in early 2020 which will make such recommendations as it considers appropriate. In April next year, the LSRA will also submit the first annual report on the admission policies of the legal profession. The report will consider if the number of persons admitted to practise as barristers and solicitors in that year is consistent with the public interest in ensuring the availability of such services at a reasonable cost. In this regard the report will consider the demand for the services of practising barristers and solicitors and the need to ensure adequate standards of education and training for persons admitted to practise.

Prison Service Expenditure

Ceisteanna (140)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

140. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the transport budget for the Prison Service in 2019 and 2020, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50952/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy may be interested that the total gross allocation for the Irish Prison Service has increased by €24.3 million in Budget 2020, which brings total gross allocation of over €383 million. This increase demonstrates the Government’s commitment to provide adequately for the Prison Service and meet the demands arising from higher prisoner numbers and costs associated with maintenance of the prisons estate.

I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that the use of its allocation in relation to the fleet for the years 2019 and 2020 will be as set out in the following table.

Sub-Subhead

2019 REV Budget

2020 REV Budget

A.5.1.1 – Fleet Management/Vehicle Costs

€1,150,000

€1,150,000

A.5.1.2 – Vehicles - Capital

€1,350,000

€500,000

It may be noted that in addition to the purchase of vehicles, expenditure for the Prison Service fleet covers items such as maintenance and repairs, fuel for prison vehicles and toll charges/parking fees.

Garda Transport Data

Ceisteanna (141)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

141. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new Garda public order unit vans that came into the fleet in 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50953/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached record levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion, increasing to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020.

Very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. I understand from the Garda authorities that this year's capital allocation of €10 million for the Garda fleet is being used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year. A further €9 million capital funding has been allocated for the Garda fleet in Budget 2020. In addition, 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.

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

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for management and control of An Garda Síochána. He is also responsible for the efficient use of Garda resources. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles, in accordance with operational demand. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities no vans specifically fitted for Public Order Units were allocated by An Garda Síochána in 2018 but that 15 such vans have been allocated to date in 2019.

While the issue raised referred to public order vans, the Deputy may also wish to be aware that 42 additional vehicles with a capacity for 4-5 Garda members and two individual cells for the transportation of prisoners were added to the Garda fleet in 2018 and a further 4 such vehicles were added to the fleet in 2019. I am further advised by the Garda authorities that an additional eight such vehicles are due for allocation before year end.

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (142)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

142. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if funding has been secured in 2020 for the upgrade of existing boats or extra boats for the Garda water unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50954/19]

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, increasing to an unprecedented €1.88 billion for 2020.

The capital budget for An Garda Síochána has also been significantly increased. The capital allocation for 2019 amounted to €92 million, representing a 50% increase on capital investment in 2018. And capital investment will increase again to over €116 million in 2020, which will provide for continued investment in Garda ICT of approximately €75 million; a further €9 million for the Garda Fleet and approximately €32 million for the Garda estate.

It is important to note that the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including allocation of resources and equipment including for the Garda Water Unit.

Naturalisation Applications

Ceisteanna (143)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

143. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the residency status of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50966/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

An application for a certificate of naturalisation was received in my Department from the person referred to by the Deputy on 18 September 2017. This application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. If any further documentation is required it will be requested from the applicant in due course.

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

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