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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1283-1300
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Prisoner Transfers
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Working Holiday Programmes
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Closed Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Asylum Seeker Accommodation
 Header Item Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Issues
 Header Item Legislative Process RIA
 Header Item Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Issues
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries Issues
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1283-1300

  Question No. 1283 answered with Question No. 1270.

EU Directives

 1284. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will be supporting at EU level the recent proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the European Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime which includes road traffic victims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39164/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Ireland opted in to the victims of crime directive and played a very positive role in the negotiation of the proposed directive, since its publication in May, 2011. I will be supporting the proposal when it comes before the JHA Council for final adoption. I expect that it will be on the Council agenda in October. I have instructed officials in my Department to begin preparatory work with a view to transposing the directive into Irish law, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government.

Garda Deployment

 1285. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will report on the impact of the recent changes that were implemented to the Garda roster; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39169/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The new rosters have been developed following detailed consultations between Garda management and the Garda representative associations under the Croke Park Agreement and have been in operation since 30 April 2012.

  They are designed to maximise the availability of Gardaí at times of peak demand, while at the same time improving the work/life balance of members.   The result is more Gardaí on duty at peak times, and the delivery of a more effective and efficient policing service.

Prisoner Transfers

 1286. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if a prisoner (details supplied) at present incarcerated in Northern Ireland for offences committed prior to the Good Friday Agreement would be entitled to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and the Weston Park Agreement in relation to early release if they transferred to a prison here, subject to their being entitled to early realease if they remained in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39178/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is not possible based on the information available to indicate whether the person concerned would be eligible for a transfer to this jurisdiction under the terms of the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, or to be deemed a qualifying prisoner under Section 3(2) of the Criminal Justice (Release of Prisoners) Act, 1998. Any application for transfer under the Convention must be considered by both jurisdictions and only after the detailed exchange of information as required by the legislation.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 1287. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will receive his Garda vetting as a matter of urgency to ensure he is able to take up the job he has been offered and can stop claiming social welfare.  [39220/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is not possible to check the status of the application referred to in the question in the absence of a date of birth. If the Deputy will provide the additional information, I will have further enquiries made in the matter.    

Residency Permits

 1288. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason the marriage certificate supplied by a person (details supplied) in County Dublin is not sufficient to grant them permission to remain on the basis of marriage to an Irish citizen [39221/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person concerned has not supplied an original Civil Marriage Certificate as requested by the Spouse of Irish National Unit. This request has been made twice in correspondence dated 2 March, 2012 and 20 April, 2012. The person in question has submitted a Church Marriage Certificate and has been informed that in order to make an application for permission to remain on the basis of marriage to an Irish National they must provide an original Civil Marriage Certificate.

  Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS 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 from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Working Holiday Programmes

 1289. Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has received a request to consider implementing a youth exchange visa programme between Ireland and the Republic of China (Taiwan); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [39232/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to advise the Deputy that persons from the Republic of China (Taiwan) seeking to travel to the State are not required to be in possession of a visa. The visa requirement for Taiwan was lifted on 1 July 2009.

The Deputy may be referring to Working Holiday Programmes such as Ireland has already with several non-visa required countries - Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and the United States of America.

I can inform the Deputy that a request was received from the Taipei Representative Office in Ireland seeking to discuss the possibility of introducing a working holiday programme between Ireland and the Republic of China (Taiwan). A proposal is currently being considered by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INIS) of my Department.

Garda Stations Closures

 1290. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39248/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The key objective in relation to the closures of Garda stations is the more effective deployment of Gardaí on operational duties. Critics of these closures are in effect arguing that we should not close even one single Garda station - currently there are 664 - despite the revolution that has taken place in transport, communications and technology across the country.

The Garda Commissioner is currently engaged in an assessment of the potential for further efficiencies in the structure and organisation of the Garda Síochána as part of the preparation of the draft policing plan for 2013. This plan is due to be submitted to me by the end of October this year and I expect that it will contain proposals for the further rationalisation of Garda stations and Districts. In the meantime it would be premature, in advance of its submission, to speculate on specific measures which it might contain.

While this assessment will be based on an evaluation of the policing needs of present day Ireland, policing arrangements in comparable jurisdictions can provide useful perspective. In that regard there are many clear points of similarity as between Ireland and Scotland.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

 1291. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if there are any grants available for community or residents groups to assist with installing CCTV; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39251/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Community-based CCTV Scheme was first launched in 2005 to provide financial assistance towards the capital costs of establishing a community CCTV system. To date, two major rounds of the Scheme have been advertised, in 2005/2006 and 2007, under which 45 substantive schemes were approved for funding.

The funding provided under the previous two rounds has been fully allocated and the installation of a number of the projects grant aided is on-going. No decision has been made in relation to the possible further extension of the Community Based CCTV Scheme. However, any future plans for such an extension will depend on a number of factors, including the availability of funding, the progression of the projects already grant aided and overall policy considerations.

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

 1292. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will reverse his decision to close Lisbrook direct provision centre for refugees in Galway city.  [39260/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal. Lisbrook direct provision accommodation centre in Galway is part of RIA's portfolio of direct provision accommodation.

RIA made a decision to close the Lisbrook accommodation centre on the expiry of its 18 month contract with its operator. This was done principally for two reasons; to enable RIA to remain on budget this year and subsequent years and a reflection of the fact that the demand for RIA services has fallen sharply. At the end of 2010, RIA was accommodating 6,107 persons. At 9 September, 2012 this figure had reduced to 4,996 persons, a decline of 1,111 persons or 18%. This year alone there has been a drop of 8% in the number of persons in direct provision accommodation. The decline in 2012 is part of a continuing trend and it should be noted that, in the period 2009 to date, RIA has reduced its accommodation portfolio from 60 centres to 36. In relation to budgetary issues, RIA like all Department of Justice and Equality bodies must operate in a significantly lower financial envelope and cannot countenance an overspend or the continuation of contracts which may no longer be required. In this context it should be noted that the actual budget of RIA declined by €28 million in the period 2008 to 2012.

In the light of representations received primarily expressing concern about the dislocation of school-going children, I have asked for a review of the background circumstance of the decision to close the centre. Therefore, arrangements for the transfer of residents from Lisbrook accommodation centre have been suspended, pending further consideration of a number of issues, including the impact on school children of such a closure, as well as the broader financial restrictions within which RIA must operate, as well as the need for it to manage its diminishing budget efficiently in the current critical economic situation.

As part of any planned accommodation centre closure, RIA does work to retain as many families as possible in the same catchment area for schools, and for those residents who are linked to critical medical services locally. This practice was underway at Lisbrook as part of any planned closure. The review exercise now being undertaken on the non-renewal of the contract is aimed at striking a balance between budget realities and the reasonable need of individuals, families and children, in particular at the start of the school year.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Issues

 1293. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the resources needed by the Garda Síochána and the security forces of this State to ensure that the type of funeral that took place in Donaghmede, Dublin last week which showed a public demonstration by the IRA of the illegal use of weapons does not occur again; the number of gardaí that were involved in policing this event, the pre-planned surveillance, who made the decision not to intervene and for what reasons; the cost to the State of such an illegal act; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [39276/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can assure the Deputy and the House that I am committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána is properly resourced to meet the threat posed by the so-called dissidents. We should be clear, of course, that these so-called 'dissident republicans' are no more than criminal terrorists using violence in pursuit of their own, often personal, ends.

We should also always remember that these groups maintain more than just a nodding acquaintance with organised criminals in funding themselves and their activities. Indeed, these paramilitaries are deeply involved in criminal activities. Countering the threat from terrorists has always been a priority for the Garda Síochána and nothing has changed in that regard. Despite the positive developments there have been in recent years in the North, the Gardaí have never let up in their efforts to counteract these groups.

I am not of course going to comment on details of Garda operational matters nor on security related measures. Nevertheless in relation to the incidents mentioned by the Deputy, it must be accepted that the Garda members present, in taking appropriate operational decisions had, above all else, a particular responsibility to ensure the safety of the public in what was a crowded environment. I do not discount the possibility that there may have been an effort to provoke the Gardaí into taking action with a view to generating public disorder and greater publicity for those involved.

In light of these events, the Garda Commissioner has set up a dedicated operation, “Operation Ambience”. As a result, over 30 searches were conducted of various locations in Dublin and surrounding counties and a substantial number of arrests were also made. Three people have been charged with membership of an unlawful organisation under the Offences Against the State Act and Garda inquiries into the matter are ongoing.

I am strongly committed to ensure that the Gardaí have the necessary resources they need, not just in terms of manpower and equipment, but also in terms of legislative provisions, to bear down on these paramilitary groups. I am also committed to making sure that there is seamless cooperation between the security services North and South in dealing with the threat. That is exactly what is happening.

Legislative Process RIA

 1294. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he would support the submissions from the Irish League of Credit Union, Free Legal Aid Centres and the Professional Brokers Association on the LED for the Personal Insolvency Bill in as far as is practicable.  [39289/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The organisations mentioned by the Deputy are among a number of organisations who have made submissions in regard to the development of the Personal Insolvency Bill 2012.

  I would like to express my appreciation in that regard and to assure the organisations concerned that their views will be taken into consideration in the final development of the Bill, as is appropriate and consistent with the overall policy objectives.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Issues

 1295. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will review the case of a person (details supplied). [39290/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Magdalen Laundries Issues

 1296. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reasons for the delay in the publication of the final report of the interdepartmental committee investigating State involvement in the Magdalen laundries; the reason he will not proceed with urgency to establish restorative justice to those who suffered in Magdalen laundries and other institutions 22 months after the IHRC recommendation and 15 months after the United Nations Committee Against Torture recommendation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [39303/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Inter Departmental Committee was set up by Government to establish the facts of State involvement with Magdalen Laundries. It is independently chaired by Senator Martin McAleese and published its initial progress report in October last year three months after its establishment.

Senator McAleese has advised me that the Committee intends to produce its final report as soon as possible but at the latest before the end of the year. He has explained that information is still being identified which has the capacity to add to the overall outcome of the Committee’s work in a meaningful way, and the Committee feels that it would be improper to conclude without examining this additional material.

I am conscious of the need to progress matters as quickly as possible but it is important to emphasise that we are in a process which is seeking to fully establish the facts. I am not going to pre-empt the work of the Committee by making decisions on such matters before I receive the final report.

  Question No. 1297 answered with Question No. 1165.

Departmental Expenditure

 1298. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a list of the payments made by the State to private landowners in 2010 and 2011 to acquire land for use in the public capital programme.  [40013/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My Department made no payments to private land owners in 2010 and 2011 to acquire land for use in the public capital programme.

  Question No. 1299 answered with Question No. 1176.

Appointments to State Boards

 1300. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of appointments that have been made to positions available on the boards of semi-State companies and statutory agencies following public advertisement; if he will provide details of the names of persons who have been appointed under this initiative and the agencies on which they now sit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40037/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have asked the relevant officials in my Department for the information sought in the Deputy's question. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as this information becomes available.


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