Garda Data

Ceisteanna (391, 392, 393, 394)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

391. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of full-time gardaí attached to Dundrum Garda sstation, Dublin 14; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29822/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

392. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of full-time gardaí attached to Stepaside Garda station, Dublin 18; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29823/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

393. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of full-time gardaí attached to Blackrock Garda station, County Dublin; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29824/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

394. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of full-time gardaí attached to Rathfarnham Garda station, Dublin 16; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29825/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 391 to 394, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. 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 that the number of Gardaí stationed in the requested Garda Stations as of 30 September 2020 is as follows:

Station

GD

SG

IN

SU

Total

BLACKROCK

68

9

1

1

79

DUNDRUM

73

10

2

85

STEPASIDE

24

3

27

RATHFARNHAM

44

5

49

I am advised by the Garda authorities that Garda management does not retain an official record of the number of car parking spaces available at each Garda Station.

The Deputy may wish to know that detailed information in relation to Garda numbers is available on my Department’s website. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. Please note that this information currently reflects the position as at 31 August 2020 and will be updated to reflect the position at end September 2020 in the coming days. This information can be viewed at the following link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_August_2020.xlsx/Files/002_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_District_and_Station_2009_to_August_2020.xlsx

Additional information on Garda staff, the Garda Workforce and other facts and figures are available at the following link:

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

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (395)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

395. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice the status of an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied). [29842/20]

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.

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. While most straightforward cases are now processed within twelve months, 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.

Direct Provision System

Ceisteanna (396)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

396. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice her plans to phase out the reliance on direct provision centres as a method of housing asylum seekers especially in view of the overcrowded conditions of centres increasing the likelihood of Covid-19 transmission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29927/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Programme for Government commits to ending the current system of Direct Provision within the lifetime of the Government and replacing it with a new international protection accommodation policy centred on a not-for-profit approach.

Dr Catherine Day has chaired an expert group with representation from asylum seekers and NGOs to examine best practice in the provision of services to international protection applicants, to examine likely longer term trends, and to set out recommendations and solutions. Any new system for the provision of accommodation and additional supports to international protection applicants will be informed by the Report of this Expert Group, which was recently presented to me and to Minister O'Gorman. The Report will be presented to Government shortly and published thereafter.

The intention is to publish a White Paper by the end of this year, informed by the recommendations of the Expert Group, which will set out how a replacement to the Direct Provision system will be structured and the steps to achieving it. Minister O'Gorman will progress the matter following the transfer of the responsibility for providing accommodation to international protection applicants to his Department.

Measures implemented my Department and the HSE nationally in response to COVID-19 include:

- Provision for self-isolation facilities in Centres and offsite self-isolation;

- Increased capacity to support physical and social distancing;

- Enhanced cleaning regimes and provision of PPE;

- Regular communications and information on public health advice to residents and centre managers;

- Provision of a free confidential support line for residents operated by the Jesuit Refugee Service;

- Provision of a national clinical telephone service operated by SafetyNet to provide public health advice to support centre staff;

- Cocooning of all medically vulnerable and over 65 residents;

- Temporary Accommodation Scheme for healthcare workers; and a

- Comprehensive COVID-19 testing programme, as recommended by NPHET.

All centres are following the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s published COVID-19 guidance for vulnerable group settings including Homeless, Traveller, Roma and Direct Provision settings.

75% of residents have their own room, are a couple, are a family unit or, have own-door accommodation. In addition, more than 65% of all residents now have access to independent living arrangements where residents can cook for themselves and their families and have more autonomy over their daily lives.

Youth Justice Strategy

Ceisteanna (397)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

397. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice her plans to make changes to the youth diversion programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29937/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, Part 4 of the Children Act 2001 (as amended) provides the statutory basis for the Garda Diversion Programme. The intention is to divert children and young people who have engaged in criminal or anti-social behaviour away from the Criminal Justice system and towards more positive life choices. Children who commit criminal offences are considered for admission to the Garda Diversion Programme, as provided in the Children Act 2001. Each such case is assessed and the Director of the Garda Diversion Programme (Garda Superintendent) decides if the case is suitable, or not, for inclusion. 

The operation of the programme includes informal and formal Garda warnings, delivered in the presence of parents or guardians, as well as provision for supervision by a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer. The scope of the Diversion programme is illustrated by 2017 figures, which show that 10,607 children were referred for consideration under the programme.

Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) are a fundamental support to the operation of the statutory Garda Diversion Programme and provide a vital ingredient in enhancing community policing partnerships. These projects are community based multi-agency crime prevention initiatives, which are funded directly by my Department. GYDPs seek to divert young people who have become involved, or are at risk of becoming involved, in crime/anti-social behaviour away from future involvement with the Criminal Justice System. They are primarily targeted at 12-17 year old young people in communities where a specific need for the service has been identified. On average the Garda Youth Diversion Projects engage with between 3,500 and 4,000 young people across the state in any one year. 

Currently there are some 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects. The intention is to further develop the service so that it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it, through an ongoing expansion of existing services and where necessary the foundation of new projects.

Further, the projects are being developed to provide family support to the parents of young people participating in the projects and are undertaking early intervention and preventative work. The role of the projects in relation to harder-to-engage young people is being enhanced and extended as part of the evolving Youth Justice system.  

The Department is supporting ongoing development of practice in GYDPs through the Action Research Project led by the University of Limerick. The Action Research Project works directly with front-line Youth Justice Workers from local projects to develop interventions and best practice. Based on initial outcomes from the Action Research Project and evaluations of a number of pilot projects, it is intended to develop proposals to expand the existing services, to ensure national coverage and a stronger focus on difficult issues such as the hard-to-reach cohort.

These issues are addressed in the draft Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2026, which is due to be published in Q4 2020.

Courts Service

Ceisteanna (398)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

398. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice the measures being taken to ensure that court facilities are appropriately structured to hear family law cases separate to other cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29938/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that all county towns have dedicated Family Law sittings with the exception of Roscommon, where the courthouse is currently unavailable. Some courthouses in county towns can accommodate both family law and other types of business at the same time. However, it is preferred that family law business takes place on days when other business is not scheduled.

The position regarding the range of outlying venues varies from some having dedicated Family Law days, to Family Law & Civil matters, to Family Law & Juvenile matters to all court business. Some outlying venues only sit once per month so all business must be transacted at that one sitting.

While some courthouses have more than one courtroom to facilitate a Family Law sitting and a Criminal sitting at the one time in separate courtrooms, there is only one permanent District Court Judge assigned to most District Court Areas.

Domestic Violence applications are heard at any District Court sitting, as required. In addition, urgent Crime matters are also heard at any District Court sitting, as required.

With Covid-19, the Courts Service’s ability to use all the courtrooms at the same time also depends on the expected footfall compared with the capacity of individual courtrooms, the foyer area of the courthouse, as well as ancillary facilities.

The following table outlines the situation in courthouses nationwide.

Courthouse

Dedicated / No Dedicated Family Law sittings

Number of Courtrooms in each Courthouse to accommodate a family law court & a criminal court sitting in a different part of the same courthouse.

Achill

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Ardee

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Arklow

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Athlone

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Athy

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Ballaghaderreen

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Ballina

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Ballinasloe

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Ballyshannon

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Bandon

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Bantry

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Belmullet

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Bray

Dedicated Family Law sittings

3 Courtrooms

Buncrana

Family Law & Civil matters listed in same sittings

2 Courtrooms

Caherciveen

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Carlow

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Carndonagh

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Carrick on Shannon

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Carrick on Suir

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Cashel

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Castlebar

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Castlerea

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Cavan

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Clifden

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Clonakilty

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Clonmel

Dedicated Family Law sittings

3 Courtrooms

Cork City (Washington Street)

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Separate Venue / Building

Derrynea

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Dingle

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Donegal

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Drogheda

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Dublin District Family Law (Dolphin House)

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Separate Venue / Building

Dundalk

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple courtrooms

Dungarvan

Family Law & Civil matters listed in same sittings

1 Courtroom

Dungloe

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Ennis

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Falcarragh

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Fermoy

Family Law & Juveniles listed in same sittings

2 Courtrooms

Galway

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Galway

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Gorey

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Gort

Family Law & Civil matters listed in same sittings

1 Courtroom

Kenmare

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Kilkenny

Dedicated Family Law sittings

4 Courtrooms

Killaloe

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Killarney

Dedicated Family Law with some Civil matters

1 Courtroom

Kilmallock

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Kilronan

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Kilrush

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Letterkenny

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Limerick (Merchants Quay)

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Separate Venue / Building

Lismore

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Listowel

Dedicated Family Law with some Civil matters

1 Courtroom

Longford

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple courtrooms

Loughrea

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Macroom

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Mallow

Family Law & Juveniles listed in same sittings

2 Courtrooms

Manorhamilton

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Meath (Trim - Crime & Navan -FL)

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Midleton

Family Law & Juveniles listed in same sittings

1 Courtroom

Monaghan

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple courtrooms

Mullingar

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple courtrooms

Naas

Dedicated Family Law sittings

4 Courtrooms

Nenagh

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Newcastlewest

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Portlaoise

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Roscommon

No dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Skibbereen

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1Courtroom

Sligo

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple Courtrooms

Strokestown

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

The Glenties

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Thurles

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Tipperary Town

Currently sitting in Nenagh Courthouse

N/A

Tralee

Dedicated Family Law sittings

2 Courtrooms

Tuam

Family Law & Civil matters listed in same sittings

1 Courtroom

Tubbercurry

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1Courtroom

Tullamore

Dedicated Family Law sittings

Multiple courtrooms

Virginia

No dedicated Family Law sittings

1 Courtroom

Waterford

Dedicated Family Law sittings

6 Courtrooms

Wexford

Dedicated Family Law sittings

4 Courtrooms

Youghal

Dedicated Family Law sittings

1Courtroom

I have also recently published the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill, which provides for the establishment of a District Family Court, a Circuit Family Court and a Family High Court as divisions within the existing court structures. The enactment of this Bill is a key commitment in the Programme for Government. The General Scheme of the Family Court Bill aims to streamline family court processes to make them more efficient and user-friendly, while encouraging greater use of alternative dispute resolution. The proposals in the General Scheme of the Family Court Bill are a result of a broad consideration as to the best means of providing access to various family law mechanisms available to those families involved in private family law cases.

Domestic Violence Policy

Ceisteanna (399)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

399. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice her plans to introduce paid leave for victims of domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29939/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Department of Justice is committed to combatting and addressing Domestic Abuse in all its forms, and coordinates the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, which is a whole-of-Government approach addressing the many actions necessary to address these matters fully.

Provision for family leave currently falls under the remit of the Department of Justice and Equality but paid leave for domestic abuse would not fall under family leave which is designed to promote work-life balance and gender equality in the workplace. Such paid leave, if it were to be introduced, would likely require an amendment to the Organisation of Working Time Act, the responsibility for which lies with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

It is the aim of government collectively, and of myself as Minister for Justice, to make available appropriate supports for people who are victims of Domestic Abuse to ensure there is a comprehensive approach that fully address their needs. When it comes to the employer / employee relationship, consideration has to be given to how the victim would prefer the issue of domestic violence to be dealt with, including whether sensitive issues such as domestic abuse are best dealt with in a private and confidential manner between employers and employees, using existing leave mechanisms such as force majeure.

As mentioned already, my Department coordinates the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016 – 2021, which is a whole-of-Government approach to taking forward the many actions necessary to address these matters fully. The Strategy includes input from relevant community and voluntary groups as well as other stakeholders across the sector. Overall, it aims to strengthen the law and structures in Ireland targeting domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. Considerable progress has been made in addressing these issues through the Strategy which facilitated the ratification by Ireland of the Istanbul Convention in 2019.

Furthermore, in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, my Department was conscious of the added risk and fear of domestic abuse. As part of an inter-agency plan and in addition to the funding already allocated for 2020, the Department to date has provided an additional €327,250 to a number of organisations working in the sector, to support and extend the existing services they offer during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic. My Department is also leading a public awareness campaign on domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic, known as ‘Still Here’ and it aims to get the message to those experiencing domestic abuse and sexual violence that support services from State agencies and the voluntary sector are still available and accessible to support victims during the Covid-19 pandemic. Further information on the organisations involved in this initiative as well as services and supports for victims is available on the website www.stillhere.ie .

In addition, under Budget 2021 and in recognition of the increased risk and incidence of domestic abuse during the pandemic, I secured €2.7 million in increased funding to combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence, as well as support for victims. Furthermore an additional €0.4 million in extra funding has been provided for organisations and groups responding to increased service demands from people impacted by domestic abuse during this period. In addition to continuing supports provided during the pandemic, the additional €400,000 for 2021 will provide extra remote counselling services, and help keep helplines open, as well as welfare packs and other practical supports for those most vulnerable.

Finally, the Deputy will also be aware that the draft Programme for Government contains a commitment to conduct an audit of statutory responsibilities in this area.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (400)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

400. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons waiting on results from citizenship applications. [30042/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The processing of citizenship applications has had a number of challenges over the past 12 months. A legal 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 citizenship applications last year. This has been compounded by COVID-19 restrictions which has resulted in significant challenges to the delivery of normal services to date this year.

Currently, there are approximately 21,000 citizenship applications on hand, at various stages of processing within the system, ranging from those just received by my Department to those where a decision has been made but it is not possible to issue an invitation to a ceremony.

A series of measures have been approved to address this caseload over the coming period. As part of these measures I expect to bring clarity to the situation of those applicants awaiting an invitation to a citizenship ceremony very shortly.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (401)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

401. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice the number of students waiting on results from citizenship applications. [30043/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is not compiled in a manner to allow for the identification of applications for naturalisation made by students, including from those who have received results in this year's Leaving Certificate.

The retrieval of this data would require a case by case examination of all applications received and would represent a significant diversion of resources from day to day processing.

However, I can say that currently, there are 265 applications on hand, at various stages of processing within the system, where the applicants are in the 16 to 18 years age group.

Citizenship Applications

Ceisteanna (402)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

402. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice the steps that can be taken by a person (details supplied) due to their circumstances. [30045/20]

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. The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department corresponded with the applicant in March of this year, advising that the application was undergoing further processing.

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. While most straightforward cases are now processed within twelve months, 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 third level fees and the SUSI grant are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.

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.

Garda Vetting

Ceisteanna (403)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

403. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Justice if there is a delay in the Garda vetting process. [30060/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that vetting applications are an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Neither I, as Minister, nor my Department have any role in the processing of individual vetting applications.

I would emphasise to the Deputy that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. It is carried out by An Garda Síochána in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016. I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate the importance of this task and the need for it to be carried out thoroughly and correctly.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda Vetting. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the eVetting system is 3-5 working days for over 85% of applications received.

All Garda vetting applications are processed on a first come, first serve basis in chronological order from date of receipt. This is with a view to observing equity and fairness in respect of all vetting subjects. Processing times fluctuate upwards and downwards depending on seasonal demands and volumes received.

In a number of instances, it is necessary to conduct enquiries with external Garda Stations and Agencies such as the Courts Service, Probation Service, Child and Family Agency, etc. These enquiries are conducted for a multiplicity of reasons such as verification of identity; updating of incomplete records; and establishing outcomes of investigations. In such instances processing times are significantly longer than the general average.

Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the eVetting Tracking System, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online. Further details on this facility are also outlined on the An Garda Síochána website, vetting.garda.ie.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (404)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

404. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice if a decision on an appeal application for a long stay visa will be expedited for a person (details supplied). [30065/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Appeals are processed in the order in which they are received in order to be fair to all applicants. While every effort is made to process appeals received as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the volume of appeals received, the resources available to process them and the complexity of the application and subsequent appeal.

Processing times may also increase where the provision of additional documentation is supplied and a detailed assessment of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights are required. Unfortunately, I cannot at this time give a definitive date as to when this particular appeal will be finalised.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way the Immigration Service of my Department conducts its business. In line with public health advice, the Immigration Service has implemented a suite of measures to help in reducing the spread of the virus. These measures include the implementation of remote working for staff in order to comply with social and physical distancing measures. Unfortunately, these measures have led to a reduction in processing capacity. While delays can be expected, including in the processing of family reunification visa applications, the Immigration Service is operating to the best of its ability.

Applicants may e-mail any queries directly to: visamail@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.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (405)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

405. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice the processing times for visa appeals. [30066/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

All visa appeals are processed in chronological order, based on date order of receipt. While every effort is made to process appeals as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the volume and complexity of cases and the possible need for the Immigration Service of my Department to investigate, inquire into, or seek information, and the resources available.

In line with public health advice, the Immigration Service has implemented measures to help in reducing the spread of the virus, including the implementation of remote working for staff in order to comply with social and physical distancing measures. Unfortunately, these measures have impacted on processing capacity. The Immigration Service is currently implementing a series of actions to address these impacts, including in the area of Visa appeals.

Appeals for Category A applications (where the sponsor is a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, researcher, investor, non-locum doctor and more) received before 29 April 2019, are currently being processed.

Appeals for Category B applications (where the sponsor is an employment permit holder, minister of religion, Stamp 4 holders not covered by other more favourable arrangements and more) received before 15 January 2019, are currently being processed.

Applicants can e-mail any queries directly to visamail@justice.ie and may also keep up to date on Visa applications at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/visa%20decisions.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (406)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

406. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice if she has included measures that will address the abusive practice of strategic lawsuits against public participation which increasingly threaten media freedom in the heads of a Bill in view that a report on the reform of the law on defamation was submitted to her in early 2020 with a view to bringing forward legislative proposals in due course. [30120/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Programme for Government commits to ‘review and reform defamation laws to ensure a balanced approach to the right to freedom of expression, the right to protection of good name and reputation, and the right of access to justice’.

The review of the Defamation Act 2009 is currently being completed by my Department. The objective set for the defamation review is to balance the individual’s right to their good name and privacy, and the right to freedom of expression, taking account of the vital role played by a free and independent press in our democracy.

I expect to receive the report of the review, with options for reform, in the coming weeks, with a view to bringing proposals for legislative change to Government for approval before the end of the year. The Defamation (Amendment) Bill is included in the Government’s Legislation Programme, which was published on 15 September.

My Department is aware of the concerns that have been raised by a number of European and international NGOs concerned with the protection of press freedoms, regarding the possible abusive practice, by certain entities, of strategic lawsuits against public participation ( or ‘SLAPPs’) in different national jurisdictions, which are among the issues monitored by the Council of Europe.

This issue was not raised by the submissions to the defamation review, but it has nevertheless been included among the issues being considered by my officials, and I expect that it will be addressed in the forthcoming report.

Travel Documents

Ceisteanna (407)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

407. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice if travel documents held by her Department will be returned to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30129/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Based on the information supplied, it has unfortunately not been possible to locate the application for the person referred to by the Deputy. If more information can be provided, my officials will re-examine the Deputy's request. Any person requiring their documents to be returned from the Registration Office should supply the An Post Reference Number and the Application Reference number when making their request to burghquayregoffice@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.

Leave to Remain

Ceisteanna (408)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

408. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the delay in renewing an application to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will expedite the matter. [30144/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

On 18 September 2020, I announced that a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions has been granted to 20 January 2021. This applies to permissions that are due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021. The person concerned should send their renewal application directly to repatadmin@justice.ie six weeks in advance of the new expiry date of 20 January 2021.

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.