Garda Training

Ceisteanna (711)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

711. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice when she expects all Garda specialist training courses either held in Garda Headquarters or the Garda Training College to resume. [26834/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The administration and management of An Garda Síochána is by law a matter for the Garda Commissioner. This includes responsibilities for matters including recruitment and training of members.  These are not matters for which I am responsible as Minister.

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions, public access to the Garda College has been prohibited since 12 March 2020.  At that time, over 300 Garda trainees attested earlier than scheduled and sworn members of Garda College staff were deployed to operational duties in order to enhance Garda capacity to respond to that pandemic.

In relation to specialist training, I understand that it remains the case that all specialist training, with the exception of Firearms Training, was suspended on 16 March 2020 in the context of the pandemic.  I understand that this suspension remains in place at this time, notwithstanding the arrangements in place around the intake of new recruits.

However, I am aware that the Commissioner and the Executive have approved proposals put forwarded by the Garda College in relation to the re-commencement of training.  Included in that document was a list of seven (7) prioritised areas of crime specialist training as follows:-

- Specialist Victim Interviewing

- Investigative Interviewing

- SIO Programme

- D/Sergeant and D/Garda Training

- ASU/ERU Training

- Driver Training

- Firearms Training  (continued to be delivered during the Covid-19 situation)

In order to progress the above specialist training, the return of relevant Garda staff to the Garda College took place on the 31st August 2020.  Driver Instructors and the Garda College transport are next to be returned.

An Garda Síochána indicate that a definitive date cannot be provided at this point for resumption of all specialist raining, but that plans for resumption will be drawn up in the coming weeks and months, in line with Government and public health guidance. At present, the Garda College is moving towards delivery across the above prioritised areas of specialist training between now and year end.

The Deputy may also be aware that approximately 150 new recruits are undergoing training under a revised delivery method, in light of the current circumstances.  The first batch of approximately 75 commenced training on 25 May, and the second batch of 75 recruits commenced training on 22 June. 

The first intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 27 November 2020, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 30 November 2020.  The second intake are due to complete Phase I of their training at the Garda College on Friday 22 January 2021, following which it is anticipated that they will commence work in their new stations on Monday 25 January 2021. 

I understand that training consists of:

- 3 weeks on-line distance learning;

- 1 week residential at the Garda College;

- Weeks 5-16 assisting operational policing in allocated training stations in home divisions;

- Weeks 17-32 residential at the Garda College and attestation (all other things being equal).

I am further informed that the Garda College has put in place strict contingencies for the period during which recruits will attend the college and strict social distancing will be enforced for the duration. 

Garda Recruitment

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

Ceisteanna (712)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

712. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the estimated cost to have 15,420 sworn gardaí by the end of 2021; and the estimated cost for same to be increased to 16,200 by the end of 2022. [26835/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have sought the relevant figures from An Garda Síochána and will revert to the Deputy as soon as they have been received.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51
I am advised that any calculation/estimate is subject to a wide range of assumptions. Based on the current projections for Garda numbers at the end of this year, it is estimated that the additional payroll costs to recruit sufficient Gardaí in 2021 to reach the figure of 15,420 by the end of 2021 would be €29,957,206.
The 2022 payroll cost of these Gardaí recruited in 2021 would be a further €59,040,600. The estimated payroll cost for the further recruitment which would be required in order to reach the figure of 16,200 sworn Gardaí by the end of 2022 would be an additional €26,538,307 on top of this figure.
These calculations are based on the assumptions laid out as follows:
The projected cost assumes that all trainees commence training on 1 January and that all those retiring/resigning do so on 1 January. This response also assumes that each year an estimated 330 Members retire/resign from An Garda Síochána. The figures relate to the costs of the newly attested Gardaí only and any savings relating to retirements/resignations are excluded. The costings do not take into account any pay rises that may occur from 1 January 2021.
Payroll costs for new Garda recruits include a basic allowance of €184 per week. After 32 weeks of training, Garda recruits are attested and move on to the first point of the Garda pay scale €31,600 (pay scale that is expected to be in operation on completion of training in August 2021). The figures include Employer's PRSI and an estimation of allowances which Garda members may qualify for depending on their assignments. The annual cost increases as the members move up the Garda Pay scale each year.

Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (713)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

713. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the number and percentage of the Garda roads policing unit fleet that are currently equipped with the automatic number plate recognition system. [26851/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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, in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement and provide reassurance to

citizens and deter crime.  In total, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021, to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies and to deliver on reform. 

As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions in relation to the provision, allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources, including Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment, are matters for the Garda Commissioner.  As Minister, I have no direct role in that regard.

I am informed that ANPR was introduced into An Garda Síochána in 2008 and is used on a daily basis to assist in the prevention and detection of crime on our roads network.  The Garda authorities advise that the number of Garda vehicles fitted with ANPR equipment varies on a daily basis, due to operational requirements, including repair and maintenance of equipment and ‘end-of-life’ of vehicles and equipment, the up-dating of software and the decommissioning of damaged units.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as at the 28 September 2020, there are 76 vehicles equipped with in car video/ANPR capability. 74 of these are attached to frontline Roads Policing Units and 2 are used for test purposes. Overall these vehicles make up approximately 24% of the Roads Policing Fleet.

Garda Equipment

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

Ceisteanna (714)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

714. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice if all interview rooms in each Garda station are fully equipped with video recording facilities; and if not, the estimated cost of ensuring all interview rooms in Garda stations are equipped with recording facilities. [26852/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have written to An Garda Síochána requesting a report on the information sought by the Deputy, and will revert when this is to hand.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51
Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the allocation and distribution of resources is entirely a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have no responsibility in this matter. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources, which includes the provision and management of video recording facilities, under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use. I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are 569 Garda Stations in the state. However, it is not possible to provide the total number of interview rooms currently operational across the country.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently 247 Suspect Interview Video Recorder Equipment (SIVRE) deployed as per the Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Electronic Recording of Interviews) Regulations 1997, and that the existing interview rooms fitted with recording facilities are sufficient to service the operational demands in every Division across the country.

Child Safety

Ceisteanna (715)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

715. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the number of staff nationally involved in accessing material on mobile phones, computers and so on relating to child sexual offences; and the qualifications required for such works. [26853/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have written to An Garda Síochána requesting a report on the information sought by the Deputy, and will revert when this is to hand.

Peace Commissioners

Ceisteanna (716)

Martin Browne

Ceist:

716. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Justice if the number of peace commissioners for the district of Thurles, County Tipperary is sufficient. [26869/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that Peace Commissioners are appointed under section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. The Office of Peace Commissioner is an honorary appointment and Peace Commissioners receive no remuneration or compensation by way of fees or expenses for their services. An application for appointment may be made by a person on their own behalf or a nomination for appointment may be made by a third party in respect of a person considered suitable for appointment. Nominations are generally received from public representatives, and a Garda superintendent may sometimes request an appointment in his or her district as the need arises in the public interest

The appointment of a Peace Commissioner is entirely at the discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality and the fact that an applicant or nominee may be suitable for appointment does not, in itself, provide any entitlement to appointment as a Peace Commissioner because other factors, such as the need for appointments in particular areas, are taken into account.  These regional requirements are kept under review.

It has been reported by the Gardaí that there are sufficient Peace Commissioners to cover the requirements in the Thurles area.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (717)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

717. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons who died in direct provision centres here in each of the years 2015 to 2019 and to date in 2020 by age, location and cause of death in each case. [26890/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Where a person sadly dies while they are being provided with accommodation by my Department, we work closely with the centre manager to assist the person’s next of kin, if known, in accessing the supports provided by the State, and to ensure that any other residents affected by the death are assisted in accessing the services that can support them. 

All deaths and serious incidents that occur within accommodation centres provided by my Department are referred to the Gardaí as a matter of course and the Gardaí in turn refer all deaths to the local Coroner’s Office.  The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) of my Department provides information to An Garda Síochána and the Coroner’s Office as and when requested. 

IPAS developed a Critical Incident Policy last year. The Policy includes guidelines for IPAS staff and for accommodation centre managers and their staff in the event of the death of a resident. The Policy includes a protocol for record keeping whereby IPAS maintains a record of all critical incidents. The Policy was issued on 23 November 2019.

Sadly, five deaths of residents have been notified to IPAS since the introduction of its Critical Incident Policy.  One death occurred last year and a further four deaths have occurred this year.

All records of deaths in Ireland are held in the General Register Office, which is the central civil repository for records relating to Births, Marriages and Deaths.  My Department does not have an official role in the collation of statistics on deaths of International Protection applicants.  The IPAS of my Department, and the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) before it, may not have always been informed of a death, for example if the death occurred in a hospital or other setting.  As a consequence, it cannot provide details of deaths since 2015 of people whose place of residence at the time was in accommodation provided by my Department. 

Deportation Orders

Ceisteanna (718, 719)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

718. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of minors born in Ireland who were deported in 2018, 2019 and to date in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26891/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Barry

Ceist:

719. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of minors born in Ireland who have been issued with deportation orders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26892/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 718 and 719 together.

The Immigration Service of my Department does not collect the statistical information sought by the Deputy.

When a record of a deportation order is being created, the Immigration Service does not, as a matter of course, record the relevant applicant’s place of birth, as opposed to their country of nationality, which is recorded. The applicant's date of birth is recorded, but not their age or the fact that they are a minor.

As a result, there is no available record of the number of children, whether born in Ireland or otherwise, who are the subject of deportation orders at the present time, or indeed have previously been the subject of such orders.  

The issue of whether or not a child was born in the State will be identifiable and can be duly considered when the individual immigration case is being substantively considered at decision-making stage. At that point, any issues around a child’s birth in the State, the degree to which they have integrated in the State etc. is given appropriate consideration before a final decision is arrived at.

International Protection

Ceisteanna (720)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

720. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020 whose application for protection has been found to be inadmissible according to section 21 of the International Protection Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26938/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The International Protection Act 2015 was commenced on 31 December 2016.

The table below sets out the number of applications for international protection that have been found to be inadmissible, following an appeal, according to section 21 of the International Protection Act 2015 from 01/01/2017 – 25/09/2020.

2017 

0

2018

11

2019

27

2020 to date

6

Section 21 (1) of the International Protection Act 2015, provides that before a person can make an application for international protection they must, as part of their (section 13) preliminary interview, satisfy an international protection officer that their application is not inadmissible.

Under section 21(2) of the 2015 Act, an application will be inadmissible and the person will not be entitled to apply for international protection in the State if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

(i) another (EU) Member State has granted the person refugee status or subsidiary protection; or

(ii) a country, other than a Member State is, in accordance with section 21(15), a first country of asylum for the person.

A first country of asylum for a person is defined by section 21(15), as a country where that person –

(a) (i) has been recognised in that country as a refugee and can still avail himself or herself of that protection, or

(a) (ii) otherwise enjoys sufficient protection in that country, including benefiting from the principle of non-refoulement and

(b) the person will be re-admitted to that country.

An International Protection Officer considers the admissibility or otherwise of an application for international protection and makes a recommendation in this regard. Where an international protection officer makes a recommendation that an application is inadmissible, he or she prepares a written report, which includes the reasons for the recommendation and notifies the person concerned and his or her legal representative (if known) of the recommendation. The notification will include a statement of the reasons for the recommendation, a copy of the international protection officer's report and a statement informing the person of his or her entitlement to appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal within 10 working days from the date of the notification. 

Ministerial Appointments

Ceisteanna (721)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

721. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice when members will be appointed to the management board of An Garda Síochána; the number she will appoint; the process for selection and approval; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26941/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to the rapid implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) and to the introduction of the Policing and Community Safety Bill to redefine the functions of An Garda Síochána.   

The Deputy will be aware that in December 2018 the Government published A Policing Service for our Future – the four year plan (2019-2022) to implement the Report of CoFPI.  In that context the Government approved the preparation of a General Scheme of the Policing and Community Safety Bill as recommended by CoFPI.  This legislation will provide for a new coherent governance and oversight framework for policing as recommended by CoFPI, including that An Garda Síochána should have a non-executive statutory board to strengthen the internal governance and management of the Garda organisation.  The preparation of the General Scheme of the Policing and Community Safety Bill is at an advanced stage in my Department and will address those issues relating to the functions, composition and appointment of the non-executive board as recommended by CoFPI. 

Private Security Authority

Ceisteanna (722)

Marian Harkin

Ceist:

722. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider an extension to the Private Security Authority, PSA, licensing period for those working in the sector and whose income has collapsed due to guidelines on Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26967/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware the Private Security Authority (PSA), established under the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the private security industry in the State. The PSA is an independent statutory body under the aegis of my Department and I have no involvement in the day-to-day operations of the Authority. The duration of licences and the requirements for obtaining a licence are matters for the Board of the PSA. 

However, I can inform the Deputy that in April 2020, the Board of the PSA submitted proposals to my Department for a change in the licence fee for contractors. This proposal took account of the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on the security industry and also the additional costs which will arise from implementing the new health and safety requirements in the workplace.

Having considered this matter, I requested the Board of the PSA to review their proposal in light of the residual impact of COVID-19 on the security industry.

I understand, that the PSA discussed the matter at their recent Board meeting and that revised proposals will be submitted to my Department shortly.  

Parental Leave

Ceisteanna (723)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

723. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice her plans to extend parental leave benefit in the upcoming budget; the details of the length of a planned extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26678/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 provides for two weeks of parent’s leave and benefit for all new parents in employment or self-employment in respect of children born or placed for adoption on or after 1 November 2019. This is to facilitate parents in spending more time with their children in their critical first year of life.

The Government is currently considering a proposal to advance the extension of Parent’s Leave and Benefit to five weeks for all parents of children born after 1 November 2019, to enable every eligible parent of young children to spend additional time with their child.

The Government proposal would mean that eligible parents of children born during the pandemic crisis would get an extra three weeks of Parent’s Leave to offset the impact for parents and young children of the strict lockdown measures. The period in which Parent’s Leave can be taken would also be extended from one year to two years.  This, and related costs, are being considered as part of the Budget 2021 process. Parent's Benefit is paid at a rate of €245 per week by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

This will be a matter for Minister O'Gorman following the transfer of this function to his Department. 

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (724)

Patricia Ryan

Ceist:

724. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice the number of applications for citizenship received in each of the past three years; the number of successful applicants in each of these years; the length of time the longest applicant is waiting; if she will address the current delays; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26977/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation under the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union as well as international level. It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally. Our procedures are continually evolving including through service improvements due to the introduction of new technology and updated work practices.  

In general, the target is that it should take around 6 months for a standard application to be processed from the date it is received to the date a decision is made. However, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks, including security checks can take a considerable period of time with the result in some applications taking longer than the average timescale. Processing timescales can be impacted by incomplete applications having to be returned; further documentation being required from the applicant; where the payment of the required certificate fee is awaited; or if the applicant has not been engaging with the Immigration Service of my Department. In some instances, the input of several government agencies, both within and outside the jurisdiction is needed and the request and receipt of information from these sources can result in delays in processing some applications. Issues can also arise at the final stage of the naturalisation process, for example, where additional information comes to light which is required to be considered before a final decision is taken.  

Furthermore, the Deputy may be aware of a challenge taken in the High Court last year by an applicant who was refused a certificate of naturalisation due to his absences from the State during the last year continuous prior to the date of his application. The outcome of this ruling – which was subsequently successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal – resulted in significant delays to the processing of naturalisation applications last year.  

The number of applications for citizenship received and certificates of naturalisation issued in each of the past three years is set out in the table below.  

Applications Received 

Certificates Issued 

2017 -- 11,777 

8,192 

2018 -- 12,867 

8,221 

2019 -- 12,275 

5,792 

Age 

No. of Applications On Hand 

Less than 1 Year 

8,555 

12 to less than 18 months 

4,412 

18 to less than 24 months 

2,888 

24 months + 

4,936 

Of the applications over 24 months old well over 80% of these were received in the preceding 24 months.  Older cases are complex in nature, maybe subject to judicial review and/or continue to be active for the range of reasons outlined above. 

The figures for cases on hands also include a cohort of cases where a decision has been made and the applicant notified of same, but where the applicant has yet to swear their oath of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, as required under the Act, and be granted their certificate of naturalisation at a citizenship ceremony arranged for the purpose.    

 The COVID-19 restrictions have also resulted in further significant challenges to the delivery of normal services including the disruption of the citizenship ceremonies.

The pilot online Citizenship ceremony that took place in early July gave rise to considerable learnings. A review of the pilot is in the final stages. A critical aspect of the review concerns the ability to provide a scalable solution, which satisfies the legislative requirements as laid down under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended. Any new model will need to be able to meet the requirements of applicants and my Department for an as yet indeterminate period of time.  I expect to be in a position to bring clarity to the situation shortly.

An overall review of citizenship application processing has been completed by my Department to ensure that the caseload on hand is dealt with as quickly as possible taking into account COVID and other restrictions.

Citizenship Status

Ceisteanna (725)

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

725. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Justice the status of the long-standing application for citizenship made by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27017/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy continues to be processed. A decision will be made on this case as expeditiously as possible.

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.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.

If the person concerned has a query in respect of their application, they should contact the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department at: citizenshipinfo@justice.ie.  

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Assisted Decision-Making

Ceisteanna (726)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

726. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 630 of 7 July 2020, the date on which the decision support service will be established and operational; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27022/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Government is committed to fully commencing the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”). The Act provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The 2015 Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. The Act provides for the establishment of new administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service (DSS) within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health).

A number of provisions of the 2015 Act were commenced in October 2016 in order to progress the setting up of the Decision Support Service and enable the recruitment of the Director of the DSS. Ms Áine Flynn was appointed Director of the DSS on 2 October 2017. The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health.

The implementation of the 2015 Act requires that the DSS is fully operational and in a position to offer services including the new decision-making support options. A high-level Steering Group comprising senior officials from my Department, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission, the Courts Service and the HSE, together with the Director of the DSS, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the DSS and this work is ongoing. The DSS, led by its Director, is working on putting in place the necessary infrastructure to support the full commencement of the Act. The infrastructure required includes, amongst many other elements, ICT capability for the DSS. These preparations are being implemented under the oversight of the Steering Group and will allow for commencement orders for the main operative provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the necessary preparations have been completed. This will enable the DSS to roll out the new decision-making support options.

My Department has sought and received funding, through the Estimates process, over the last three years to assist the DSS in delivering on its mandate. Further funding will be necessary through the Estimates process in 2020 and 2021. In the interim, and subject to the funding allocation, my Department, in conjunction with the DSS, the Mental Health Commission and other stakeholders have agreed to an implementation plan which anticipates commencement of DSS services in mid-2022. There are also critical dependencies for the DSS on other organisations, including, for example, the Courts Service, the HSE and the Department of Health amongst others, which need to be delivered in order to achieve this timeline. The Steering Group has been meeting regularly to ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of this project.

As this is a function that is due to transfer, it will of course be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to bring this matter forward.

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (727)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

727. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the progress to date in the determination of an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27029/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), written representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned to the Immigration Service of my Department.

These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully considered, under section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation, in advance of a final decision being made.  This decision will be made as soon as possible.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (728, 742)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

728. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice if her Department or other Departments are planning further involvement with a former facility (details supplied) in County Kerry following the closure of the direct provision centre in Caherciveen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27038/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pa Daly

Ceist:

742. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Justice her plans for an accommodation centre (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27197/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 728 and 742 together.

On 30 July 2020, I announced that the residents in Cahersiveen would be transferred to permanent accommodation centres, in line with my Department's policy to withdraw from emergency accommodation as quickly as possible, and that this process would be completed as soon as possible and no later than the end of the year.

The final transfers from the Skellig Star were completed on 2 September 2020, and there are no remaining residents living onsite.  My Department has no plans to utilise the premises again or any other premises in Cahersiveen.

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (729)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

729. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by her since her appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27057/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

On the commencement of every Dáil, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform issues guidelines setting out the arrangements for the staffing of Ministerial Offices. The appointment of Special Advisers is subject to section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

The Guidelines for the 33rd Dáil, which incorporate the principles of section 11 of the PMSA Act, are currently awaiting Government approval. 

The appointment of individual Special Advisers is a matter for each Government Minister subject to the terms set out in the aforementioned guidelines, although the appointments are also subject to formal Government approval.  At this stage, no Special Advisers have been formally appointed to my Department by the Government. 

However, the Deputy may wish to note that I have assigned two people to work with me as Special Advisers and those people will be formally appointed by the Government once the Guidelines have been approved.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform must be notified of the rate of salary to be paid in all cases for Special Advisers. These rates will be published on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Citizenship Status

Ceisteanna (730, 736)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

730. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice if the citizenship requirement will be clarified with regard to the reckonable residency calculation; the consequence in the event a person has been absent from the State for more than six weeks in a year; if six-week absences are deducted in their entirety from the reckonable residency calculation; if not, if it is solely the excess days over six weeks that are deducted from reckonable residency calculation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27102/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

736. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice if the six-week absence is deducted in its entirety from the reckonable residency calculation if a person has been absent from the State for more than six weeks in a year; if not, if the excess days over six weeks are deducted from the reckonable residency calculation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27148/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 730 and 736 together.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, provides the statutory periods of residence required in the State, and that the final year be continuous residence. However, it has long been recognised that many people may travel abroad for a holiday, or may have some unexpected or unavoidable reason to travel abroad. 

In this regard, it is considered, that a reasonable and generous period of up to 6 weeks be allowed to provide for absences from the State for normal holidays and other short term and temporary nature absences, such as for business meetings or a family wedding or bereavement or medical emergency while abroad, and that such short term nature absence from the State would not impact on the statutory residence requirement. However, in the absence of any additional information in relation to extended absences, absences totalling 6 weeks or more in any year will be deducted in their entirety from the reckonable residence in the State.

As each application is judged on its individual merits, a decision on an application can only be made when it has been submitted and subsequently considered. Therefore, it is essential that applicants provide all relevant information to allow for a fully informed decision and to consider whether exceptional or compelling circumstances exist with regard to any absences from the State in the period preceding the submission of the application.