Question No. 247 answered with Question No. 235.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 242.

Family Reunification

Ceisteanna (249, 250)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

249. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the categories of family members that can be included under the family reunification process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

250. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the categories of family members that can be included under the family reunification process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51271/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

The International Protection Act 2015, which was fully commenced on 31 December 2016, brought about significant reforms to our international protection process. The most significant of these was the introduction of a single application procedure. By replacing the previous multi-layered and sequential process, the single application procedure brings certainty at a much earlier stage to those who qualify for protection. In turn, this provides for timely reunification with immediate family members to support those granted international protection to begin their new lives here in Ireland.

In aligning our application procedure with other EU Member States, the Government was also mindful of the need to align our family reunification provisions. The EU Family Reunification Directive governs family reunification in the Member States, with the exception of Ireland, the UK and Denmark. In so doing, we considered it appropriate and humane not to impose the economic conditions on sponsors. In addition, unlike some EU Member States, our family reunification provisions apply equally to beneficiaries of both types of international protection: refugee status and subsidiary protection status.

In order to apply for Family Reunification, an applicant must have a current declaration as a Convention Refugee, Programme Refugee or they must be a current beneficiary of Subsidiary Protection. The sponsor must make an application within 12 months of being granted one of the above, or from the date of their arrival in the State as a Programme Refugee.

Under Section 56 of the International Protection Act, the following family members are eligible for family reunification (with relevant criteria in brackets):

- Spouse (the marriage must have subsisted on the date the application for International Protection in the State was lodged);

- Civil Partner (the civil partnership must have subsisted on the date the application for International Protection in the State);

- Parent(s) and their children (under 18 and unmarried) if the sponsor was under 18 and unmarried on the date the application for family reunification in the State was lodged; and

- A child of the sponsor, who is under the age of 18 and unmarried when the sponsor made an application for Family Reunification in the State.

Under Sections 56 and 57, a person may apply for permission for member(s) of their family to:

- Enter and reside in the State where they are living outside the State; or

- Reside in the State where they are already in the State on the date the application was lodged.

- Where an application for Family Reunification is granted, family members will be given permission to enter and/or reside in the State for not less than one year, provided the sponsor's permission is in force and the sponsor is entitled to remain in the State.

However, it also remains open to me to exercise my discretion under the Non-EEA Policy Document on Family Reunification to waive the economic conditions for sponsors applying for extended family members. My Department will continue to examine such applications on humanitarian grounds on a case-by case basis.

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (251)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

251. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda information messages handed out by An Garda Síochána to persons perceived to be in danger from criminals in the past six years by year and district in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51275/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including the allocation and efficient use of Garda resources.

I have requested the relevant information from the Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when I receive it.

Crime Data

Ceisteanna (252, 253)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

252. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 426 of 6 November 2018, when a reply will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51299/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

253. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the length of time responses to certain parliamentary questions are taking in view of the fact that certain parliamentary questions relating to crime statistics have gone unanswered for over a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51300/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 253 together.

I refer to the Deputy’s previous questions 3606/19 of 24 January 2019 and 45496/18 of 6 November 2018 in which information was requested on the number of all detected sexual offences as recorded by An Garda Síochána in specific categories in each of the years 2004 to 2017 in tabular form.

I would first point out that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of all crime statistics. The CSO produces these statistics using data including data recorded on An Garda Síochána’s PULSE system. CSO Recorded Crime statistics are wholly dependent on PULSE data.

In light of quality issues in relation to PULSE data, the CSO took the decision in early 2017 to postpone further publication of recorded crime statistics.

While CSO resumed publication of recorded crime statistics, it has done so in a new category entitled ‘Under Reservation’.

The CSO has confirmed that this classification has been applied to reflect the fact that there are data quality issues in the underlying sources used to compile the statistics. The CSO has further indicated that this approach of differentiating statistics based on quality concerns associated with the underlying data is consistent with other jurisdictions.

The CSO is engaging with An Garda Síochána to set out the criteria for the lifting of the reservation. These criteria will address quality concerns across a broader range of issues. They will address issues such as data governance, training, crime data recording procedures and the auditing and monitoring of data quality.

Last week I noted the publication of a new statistical release by the CSO on Recorded Crime Detection 2018, the data of which is categorised as ‘under reservation’. I welcome the fact that improvements in An Garda Síochána, in particular in terms of data governance including upgrade of the Pulse system had facilitated preparation and publication of this report by the CSO. The report provides a snapshot of the extent to which crimes reported to An Garda Síochána in 2018 have been detected. Detection is understood in this context as identification and sanction of at least one suspected offender; or, in a very limited set of circumstances, a verified exception whereby an offender is not directly sanctioned because, for example, the DPP decides that prosecution is not in the public interest or the suspected offender dies prior to any prosecution.

In publishing this report, the CSO explicitly confirmed that the report constituted a 'significant break' in the previous series for measuring crime detection rates in Ireland. This means that detection rates set out in the CSO report issued for 2018 are not comparable with figures published in earlier years.

The report is available at the following link:

https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-rcd/recordedcrimedetection2018/

The Deputy will appreciate that, given the pause in reporting on this issue by the CSO, it was not possible for me to provide a response to the issue raised in her earlier Parliamentary Question. For the same reason it is difficult to provide data at this point for the earlier years referred to.

However it is important to note that the most recent CSO report was made possible by progress in An Garda Síochána, which has improved the quality and consistency of recording of crime data. This establishes a reliable baseline against which operational decisions can be considered by An Garda Síochána and further progress can be ensured and measured. As the Deputy may be aware, the Policing Authority is responsible for overseeing the performance of An Garda Síochána of its functions relating to policing services, and accordingly has the primary oversight role in relation to these matters, including any issues arising from the historical inaccuracies in the recording of detections on PULSE. The welcome clarity which the CSO has brought to this issue through this new and more reliable assessment of detections will be of assistance to the Authority in that independent oversight task and will also be of assistance to An Garda Síochána as it continues to improve the policing services it provides nationwide.

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (254)

James Browne

Ceist:

254. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí deployed in Garda stations in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51345/19]

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. And these numbers are growing, as part of the Government’s plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021. Since the reopening of the Garda Training College in 2014, approximately 3,000 new Garda members have attested and been assigned to frontline policing duties in communities throughout the country, including the 197 new members that attested on 29 November last.

Details in relation to the number of Gardaí deployed to all Garda Divisions 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

Specifically in relation to the Wexford, I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2019 there were 319 Gardaí assigned to the Wexford Division. This represents a significant increase of 64 Gardaí in the Division since the end of 2015, a 25% increase over the past four years. I am informed that these Gardaí are supported by 40 Garda staff, which again represents a significant increase of 12 Garda staff since the end of 2015. This increase in Garda staff numbers supports the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative to operational policing duties, where their training and expertise can be used to best effect. Taken together, this increase in Garda and civilian staff numbers means a significant increase in operational policing hours in Wexford in recent years.

Information on Garda staff is also 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

Refugee Status Applications

Ceisteanna (255)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

255. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an application for asylum or refugee status has been submitted in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51358/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, for reasons of maintaining full confidentiality, it is not my Department's practice to comment on whether an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State.

An applicant for such protection status, or their legal representative, should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

However, I can inform the Deputy that an applicant for international protection is awarded international protection, whether refugee status or subsidiary protection status, upon a declaration of status being issued from the Ministerial Decisions Unit of the Immigration Service of my Department. This is done on foot of a grant recommendation from the International Protection Office (IPO) or a decision of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) to set aside a refusal recommendation of the IPO.

My Department processes the recommendations received from the International Protection Office and the decisions of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in chronological order based on the date the file is received in that Unit. Once the necessary due diligence has been carried out by the Ministerial Decisions Unit, a declaration of status will issue as soon as possible.

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

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

The Ministerial Decisions Unit operates an email service for responding to queries - mduinfo@justice.ie Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the parliamentary questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Corporate Governance

Ceisteanna (256)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

256. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in tabular form for each of the action points made in a report Measures to Enhance Ireland’s Corporate, Economic and Regulatory Framework, published in November 2017; if each such action point has been completed, not completed or is ongoing, respectively; and the revised deadlines for action points not delivered by original timelines committed. [51397/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is lead in relation to progress on the report referred by the Deputy. A number of actions are led by my Department. As requested, I have set out below in tabular form the position in relation to those actions.

Action Point No.

Action Point

Timeline

Relevant Bodies

Lead/Owner

Status

Comments

6

Review anti-corruption and anti-fraud structures

Q2 2018

Department of Justice and Equality, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, Department of Finance, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Department of Justice and Equality

Ongoing

The Department of Justice and Equality is currently finalising this report with a view to publication in early 2020.

7

Establish a Garda-led Joint Agency Task Force on a pilot basis as part of the overall review of structures & procedures

Q2 2018

An Garda Síochána, the Central Bank, industry representatives and any other relevant bodies

Department of Justice and Equality

Ongoing

The development of a pilot Joint Agency Task Force was subject to an initial exploration. However, the organisations involved concluded that a statutory underpinning to facilitate the exchange of intelligence and information was required and also to ensure clarity on the respective roles and powers of agency personnel. One issue examined under the review of anti-corruption and anti-fraud structures (action 6) is inter-agency cooperation and intelligence sharing.

8

Publish Criminal Procedure bill

Q1 2018

Department of Justice and Equality, Office of the Attorney General

Department of Justice and Equality

Ongoing

The Department of Justice and Equality continues to work with the OPC on drafting, with a view to publication as soon as possible.

9

Enact Criminal Procedure Bill

Q4 2018

Department of Justice and Equality, Office of the Attorney General, Oireachtas

Department of Justice and Equality

Ongoing

The Department of Justice and Equality continues to work with the OPC on drafting, with a view to publication as soon as possible.

24

Transpose 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (4AMLD)

Q1 2018

Department of Justice and Equality, Department of Finance, Office of the Attorney General

Department of Justice and Equality

Completed

The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018 was enacted on 14 November 2018 and commenced on 26 November 2018. The 2018 Act is the main transposing measure. The Department of Justice and the Department of Finance have enacted a number of further Regulations during 2018/2019 to strengthen the anti-money laundering framework and are working towards the transposition of the Fifth Directive.

27

Publish the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill

Q4 2017

Department of Justice and Equality, Office of the Attorney General, Oireachtas

Department of Justice and Equality

Completed

The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 was commenced on 30 July 2018.

28

Enact the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill

Q4 2018

Department of Justice and Equality, Office of the Attorney General, Oireachtas

Department of Justice and Equality

Completed

The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 was commenced on 30 July 2018.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Ceisteanna (257)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

257. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned by his Department for the first six months of 2020; the budgeted costs of these campaigns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51414/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department engages in public information campaigns, where appropriate, in order to draw attention to important issues in the Justice and Equality sector.

The main awareness campaign the Department runs is aimed at targeting domestic, sexual and gender based violence. The 'No Excuses' campaign is a high impact media campaign designed to reach a national audience featuring TV, cinema, radio, outdoor, social and digital advertising. The campaign was launched by Minister Flanagan in May 2018 and is part of the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016-2021. ‘No Excuses’ follows the domestic violence awareness campaign ‘What Would You Do?’ which ran for three years from 2016 to 2018.

While it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the costs on a six monthly basis, funding of €950,000 has been secured to run the campaign in 2020. In addition, funding of €300,000 has been awarded under the Dormant Accounts Fund to localise the campaign message. It is intended, subject to the necessary funding being made available, that the campaign will continue up to 2021.

Furthermore, my Department runs an annual fireworks awareness campaign in the lead up to Halloween. The Department also makes information available to the public on matters such as human trafficking and provide rights information to victims at points throughout the year in accordance with the needs of the relevant policy section.

Promotional events and launches are normally arranged close to the time of occurrence. Currently, there are no other advertising campaigns, promotional events and launches planned for the period specified.

Data Sharing Arrangements

Ceisteanna (258)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

258. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the data sharing agreements his Department has in place with organisations that are not other Departments or State agencies; the purpose of these data sharing agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51431/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

On the basis of the clarifications that have been provided by the Deputy’s Office, I wish to confirm that my Department does not have data-sharing agreements in place with organisations that are not other Government Departments or State Agencies.

My Department does have Controller Processor contracts in place with service providers who process data, including personal data, on behalf of the Department e.g. in the area of ICT. Such contracts are reflective of Article 28 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which outlines the obligations on controllers and processors.

A review of the Department's contracts is currently underway to ensure optimal compliance across all areas. All of the Department’s financial contractual obligations are subject to scrutiny by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (259)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

259. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of freedom of information requests in which his Department made a decision to deny; and the number in which the Information Commissioner overturned the decision of his Department in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [51465/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The table below sets out the information requested by the Deputy. The number of requests where the Information Commissioner overturned or varied the decision of my Department is set out in the last line of the table. To assist the Deputy, information on the outcomes of internal reviews has also been included.

Year

2016

2017

2018

2019 (YTD 30/11/2019)

No. FOI requests received

583

769

827

828

Outcome

Granted

159

163

235

197

Part granted

206

250

302

309

Refused

161

274

201

191

Transferred

7

3

4

1

Withdrawn

26

45

48

58

Withdrawn and handled outside of Act

32

45

63

11

Cases on hand at year end

109

125

99

160

Appeals*

Internal Appeals Total

76

125

72

61*

Internal Appeals Granted/Part granted/Withdrawn and handled outside the Act

47

45

37

28

Internal Appeals Refused

29

80

35

23

Information Commissioner Reviews

Overturned / Varied

12

28

7

1

*A number of reviews are still being processed.

Departmental Agencies Data

Ceisteanna (260)

James Browne

Ceist:

260. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has responsibility for a large number of bodies, both statutory and non-statutory. Please find information provided in tabular format below to address the first three parts of the Deputy's question.

For the purposes of answering the Deputy's question, the definition of the 'board' is taken to encompass any entity where the positions of its governing authority are filled via the Public Appointments Service State Boards process.

Agency/State Body

Size of Board

Vacancies

An Garda Síochána

No Board

N/A

Censorship of Publications Board

5

1

Censorship of Publications Appeals Board*

5

5

Classification of Films Appeal Board

9

2

Coroner Service

No Board

N/A

The Courts Service of Ireland

18

0

Criminal Assets Bureau

No Board

N/A

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

No Board

N/A

Forensic Science Ireland

No Board

N/A

Garda Síochána Arbitration Board

3

0

Garda Síochána Inspectorate

No Board

N/A

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

3

0

Insolvency Service of Ireland

No Board

N/A

International Protection Appeals Tribunal

No Board

N/A

International Protection Office

No Board

N/A

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

12 to 15

8

Irish Prison Service

No Board

N/A

Judicial Appointments Advisory Board

11

1

Legal Aid Board

12

3

Legal Services Regulatory Authority

11

0

Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board

4

0

National Disability Authority

13

0

Office of the Data Protection Commissioner

No Board

N/A

Office of the Inspector of Prisons

No Board

N/A

Office of the State Pathologist

No Board

N/A

Parole Board

12 to 15

0

Policing Authority

9

0

Private Security Appeal Board

6

1

Private Security Authority

11

0

Probation Service

No Board

N/A

Property Services Appeal Board

5

1

Property Services Regulatory Authority

11

0

* The Censorship of Publications Appeals Board is not currently operational and therefore there are no members appointed to the Board at this time.

With respect to the obligations of board members to appear before the Oireachtas, under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, the Chief Executive Officer/Accounting Officer (rather than the Chair or any other Board members) of each State body is accountable to the Public Accounts Committee and other Oireachtas Committees.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Guidelines on Appointments to State Boards provides that persons being proposed by Ministers for appointment as Chairpersons of State bodies are required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas Select Committee to discuss the approach which they will take to their role as Chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the State body or Board in question.

It is important to note that while accountability to Oireachtas Committees is a vital part of the governance and oversight framework of agencies and bodies, the Code of Practice sets out a broad framework for the application of best practice based on principles of good governance, and incorporates provisions on board procedures and codes of conduct, business and financial reporting, audit and risk, remuneration and board self-assessment. It also provides for robust arrangements in terms of reporting to the parent Department.

Employment Rights

Ceisteanna (261, 262, 263, 264)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

261. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase the monitoring of the atypical workers scheme as it relates to the fishing industry to ensure that the terms of a settlement agreement reached after High Court proceedings in early 2019 will be adhered to; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a high volume of migrant workers in the fishing industry working more than 60 hours per week resulting in an hourly rate of pay as low as €2.82 per hour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

262. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of violations of elements of the atypical workers scheme in the fishing industry that his attention has been drawn to over the past three years and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51509/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

263. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when draft regulations in respect of a settlement agreement reached after High Court proceedings regarding the transposition of EU Council Directive 2017/159 as it relates to the fishing industry to give effect to the agreement reached will be signed by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51510/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

264. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the atypical workers scheme in respect of the fishing industry as framed does not provide for effectively preventing and combating trafficking in persons for the purpose of forced labour and labour exploitation in the fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51518/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 261 to 264, inclusive, together.

The Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet was established as a cross-Departmental response to address the matter of non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet.

A number of Departments are involved in the scheme and it is monitored by an Oversight Committee, chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine with members from relevant Departments and State Agencies, including my own.

To date, 351 individuals have applied for, and been granted permission under this Scheme. There are 224 valid permission under the scheme at present. Under the terms of the Scheme, all crew from non-EEA countries must be employed directly and exclusively by a sea fishing vessel license holder under a written contract of employment for a duration of 12 months. All license holders are under a contractual and statutory duty to comply with EU and national law applicable to employees working under the Scheme.

My Department has been advised that each contract is certified by a solicitor as follows:

1. that the terms of the scheme are met

2. that the conditions of employment are in accordance with the relevant legislation and that annual wages are not less than the National Minimum Wage - currently €9.80 per hour; and

3. that there is a statement from the vessel owner that they will enrol the crew member in a Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) Safety Training Scheme prior to commencement of employment.

The enforcement of appropriate employment law, including minimum wage requirements, is not a matter for the Department of Justice and Equality. Enforcement of the employment conditions of any non-EEA National in the Irish fishing industry is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), and the Marine Survey Office or (in the case of alleged criminal activity), the Gardaí and other appropriate authorities of the State.

The vessels encompassed by the scheme are subject to regular inspection by a number of State Agencies. The WRC in particular has inspected almost all vessels within the scope of the scheme and maintains a risk-based inspection and compliance regime which is informed by intelligence, including information from concerned NGOs.

From April 2016 to the end of June 2019, 390 port inspections of the 186 whitefish vessels that have participated in this scheme since 2016 were undertaken by WRC inspectors. Port inspections refer to the initial contact that is made with the vessel as it arrives in the harbour. The inspections entail checks for visas and informal interviews with the crew about the working conditions. These inspections are followed up with a call to the HQ of the vessel for more formal checks on records and relevant documents, follow up interviews and so on.

There are currently some 171 vessels which come within the scope of the Atypical Working Scheme and the WRC inspection services have inspected 169 (over 99% of all vessels). Two of the vessels registered under this Scheme have not been detected in Irish ports in recent times.

Since the Atypical Working Scheme was launched late in 2015, six targeted enforcement operations have taken place:

1. Operation Egg Shell, which was led by and coordinated by An Garda Síochána and involved several enforcement agencies, took place on 5th and 7th October 2016 and focussed on labour exploitation and human trafficking in the fishing industry.

2. Operation Trident, which took place from 29th to 31st March 2017.

3. Operation Neptune, which took place in March 2018

4.Operation Poseidon, which took place in June 2018, involved unannounced inspections at several fishing ports by WRC inspectors.

5.Operation Nemo which involved unannounced inspections operation at 5 of the 6 fishery harbour centres during the period 21st to 23rd February 2019; and

6. Operation Preteus, which took place from 26 June to 29 June. WRC inspectors boarded 28 whitefish vessels at seven landing places across the country to inspect employment records, carry out compliance checks and interview employees.

Some 260 contraventions were detected by WRC Inspectors from 2016 to end June 2019:

1. 26% of contraventions relate to records

2. 19% of contraventions relate to leave, public holiday and associated entitlements

3. 16% of contraventions relate to illegal workers

4. 13% of contraventions are failures to issue payslips

5. in 17% of cases, owners are not cooperating and/or complying with an Inspector's requirement

6. 4% of contraventions related to pay rates.

By the end of 2019 it is expected that two detailed investigations of all Atypical Working Scheme vessels will have been conducted. So far, the WRC has proceeded to prosecutions in 12 cases. 7 of these are currently before the courts and, in 5 cases, the WRC has been successful in securing convictions. It is noteworthy, that the inspection resources allocated by the Workplace Relations Commission to the Atypical Working Scheme is significant compared to other sectors of employment. There are over 2.2 million persons employed in Ireland. There are slightly in excess of 200 crew members currently employed under the Atypical Working Scheme.

Where an individual believes themselves to be a victim of human trafficking or where another person believes that this situation applies, they should contact An Garda Síochána (AGS), or an NGO or State authority (e.g. WRC) who will be able to refer their case to AGS. AGS will be in a position to take the victim to a place of safety and arrange for immediate accommodation, food and medical needs.

AGS will refer the person's case to the competent authority for the identification of victims, the Human Trafficking investigation and coordination unit (HTICU) of AGS.

Where an individual is identified as a suspected victim of human trafficking by HTICU they will be eligible to receive State supports and services through the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Human Trafficking (NRM) to assist their recovery. Where such persons do require a permission to remain in the State and do not already have one, a permission to remain will be granted under the Administrative Immigration Arrangements (AIAs) on foot of a formal identification by senior officers of HTICU.

As a result of the multi-agency engagement outlined above, An Garda Síochána have identified 16 migrant fishermen who had been employed under the Terms of the Atypical Working Scheme as possible victims of human trafficking and caused them to be admitted to the NRM. Admission to the NRM is based on a low threshold of possibility that trafficking may have occurred. While this is a matter of concern and is being treated with the utmost seriousness, these cases represent a small percentage of the overall number of fishers availing of the AWS. Assistance and services under the NRM have been afforded to all of these victims, including accommodation, medical and legal assistance. Investigations are continuing.

Responsibility for transposition of EU Directive 2017/159, which implements the standards of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, is not a matter for my Department. This work falls within the remit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. I am informed that work is at an advanced stage on the transposition of same.

Departmental Staff Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (265)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

265. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being compiled. I will write to the Deputy shortly with the requested information.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 265 in which the Deputy requested the budget and number of staff working in my Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form. As the Deputy will recall, the information he requested could not be obtained in the time frame available, and I undertook to contact him again.
The information requested is provided in the following table. The figure provided in regard to salaries, wages and allowances relates to the amount allocated through the Revised Estimates Volume in each respective year. Increases in staffing levels reflected overall trends within the civil service, increased State investment in the Justice and Equality sector and an expansion of the services provided by the Department.

Year

Budget for Salaries, Wages and Allowances

Number of Staff

2014

€56,450,000

1,070

2015

€58,536,000

1,105

2016

€62,262,000

1,172

2017

€65,516,000

1,330

2018

€70,316,000

1,457

2019 YTD

€73,325,000

1,510

Citizenship Ceremonies

Ceisteanna (266)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

266. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) will be assisted in order to attend a naturalisation ceremony in Killarney, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51575/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Officials in my Department have informed me that they have been in direct contact with the applicant on a number of occasions in advance of yesterday’s ceremony (9th December). It should be noted that the ceremony on the 9th of December, at which some 2,000 were granted Citizenship was undertaken within a 4-week period as compared to the normal seven weeks’ processing cycle.

Regrettably the applicant was not in a position to attend the ceremony yesterday (9th December). However, officials will be making contact today (10th of December) with the applicant to establish a process that addresses the specific needs of the applicant. As part of the existing processes, applicants are requested to advise officials of any special needs on the day. This process was followed in this case, unfortunately it was not feasible in the instance to agree arrangements in time for the 9th December. However, arrangements will be put in place to address the specific needs of the applicant early in the New Year.

The Department has in place procedures that aimed at ensuring applicants with special needs are offered a welcoming and inclusive experience. Accordingly, a complimentary bus is provided to ferry applicants to and from the venue and the train station. Upon arrival at the INEC applicants with special needs by-pass the queuing system and are seated in a location directly adjacent to the processing area. Those that do not have wheelchairs are provided complimentary wheelchairs. Before the processing area opens up to the main body of applicants, those with special needs are processed first, this ensures an unhurried experience. To help ensure their enjoyment of the event, their guest are afforded the opportunity to be seated with them, this option is not available to the main body of applicants. Where a guest is not present or where the applicant opts not to have their guest seated with them, a member of staff will accompany them to their seat, which is usually situated in rows one and two. A dedicated member of staff is assigned to accompany applicants with special needs to/from the washrooms. At the conclusion of the ceremony the dedicated member of staff ensures their safe exit from the venue.

In conclusion, I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. My officials are currently reviewing this case to ensure that the valuable lessons are gained in how better to support those with special needs. Any such learnings will be incorporated in advance of the next ceremony.