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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 150-164
 Header Item Departmental Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Missing Persons
 Header Item Garda Transport Provision
 Header Item Tribunals of Inquiry Reports
 Header Item Prisoner Transfers
 Header Item Garda Training
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Courts Service Issues
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Child Abduction
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Garda Districts
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Deportation Orders Data

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 150-164

Departmental Staff Remuneration

 150. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if temporary promotions or acting-up allowances have been a feature of the staffing arrangements for this EU Presidency, if he will confirm that his Department has been given sanction to make such arrangements detailing the number by grade involved, the date sanction was sought and the date it was given.  [56298/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan My Department has undertaken internal redeployment and streamlining of business areas in preparation for Ireland’s Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2013, in which environment, climate change, sustainable development and civil protection are significant themes at EU and international level. Internal redeployment and streamlining have been used to ensure optimum staffing in priority business areas.

In January 2012, my Department also sought sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for additional staffing, and related payroll costs, for the EU Presidency and sanction was given in February 2012. To date, 1 acting up allowance to Assistant Principal Officer has been awarded.

Missing Persons

 151. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if a decision has been taken to carry out the tests required to possibly provide a definitive identification of humans bones found off the south east coast and possibly connected to recent losses of fishing vessels. [55737/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that pathological, anthropological, carbon dating, geographic and investigative enquiries have been conducted in respect of the remains found off the south-east coast. Despite numerous attempts by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) to extract DNA from the remains in an effort to generate DNA profiles, all attempts to date have proved unsuccessful.

I am advised that the extraction of DNA profiles from bones that have been in water for a long period of time is extremely difficult as the sea has been found to cause extensive degrading of Nuclear DNA over time. In this regard, I am advised that Garda enquiries with the FSL indicate that further tests outside the jurisdiction may not necessarily be any more successful than testing that has taken place to date in the FSL. I am also informed that new profiling technology will be introduced at the FSL, in early 2013, and it is expected that further tests will be carried out on the remains which have been recovered using this technology.

I am very much aware of the concerns which have been expressed in relation to these remains and my Department has conveyed these concerns to the Garda authorities. I am confident that in cases of missing persons, whether at sea or on land, An Garda Síochána does all in its power to assist families of those who have been lost and, in particular, would contact families when they have any information of substance to impart.

Garda Transport Provision

 152. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if a permanent Garda vehicle will be restored to a Garda station (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55756/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Decisions in relation to the provision and deployment of Garda vehicles are a matter, in the first instance, for the Garda Commissioner in the light of his identified operational requirements. At Garda Divisional level, it is for the Chief Superintendent to make appropriate arrangements for the distribution of vehicles throughout the Division in response to policing demands. The Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is crucial to the efficient management of the Garda fleet.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the detailed allocation of vehicles is determined through a process of ongoing analysis of operational requirements. In addition, they have informed me that the current policing arrangements for the area served by the relevant station, and indeed for the Cavan/Monaghan Division, are making the best use of available resources. Moreover the Garda authorities have indicated that the needs of the area will continue to be examined as additional resources become available.

In that context, the Deputy will be aware that 170 new Garda vehicles have recently been ordered on foot of an investment of €3 million. These vehicles are due to begin coming on stream in the coming weeks. In addition, a further €5 million is being made available for the purchase and fit-out of new Garda vehicles in 2013. This level of expenditure, at a time of severe budgetary constraint, represents a very significant investment in Garda transport and I have no doubt that the additional funding will considerably strengthen the overall effectiveness of the Force in delivering a policing service to communities throughout the country.

Tribunals of Inquiry Reports

 153. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 502 of 1 May 2012, the progress made on the recommendations of the Moriarty Tribunal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55769/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Insofar as the report of the Moriarty Tribunal made recommendations concerning the future operation of tribunals of inquiry, many of these recommendations are anticipated by the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 which awaits Report Stage debate in the Dáil. Other recommendations are the subject of consultation with the Attorney General and other relevant Departments.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following their examination of the report of the Moriarty Tribunal, the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been sought on the findings of that examination, with a view to determining whether or not a full Garda investigation should now be commenced.

Prisoner Transfers

 154. 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 he has received an application from a person (details supplied) who is at present a prisoner in HMP Maghaberry, in Northern Ireland, for transfer to prison here; if a release date under the Good Friday Agreement of a maximum of two years incarceration will apply in the event of such a transfer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55782/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can confirm to the Deputy that an application has been received from the individual referred to, for a transfer to a prison here under the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

  The Deputy should be aware that 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 Training

 155. 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 the number of Gardaí who took the method of entry course in 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55793/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that in 2011, 91 Gardaí undertook the method of entry training course and in 2012, 32 Gardaí have undergone the method of entry training course to date (7 December 2012).

Naturalisation Applications

 156. 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 persons (details supplied) in County Limerick have been naturalised here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55814/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am pleased to inform the Deputy that certificates of naturalisation were issued to the persons concerned on 26 August, 2011.

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

Courts Service Issues

 157. 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 the total value of monetary fines handed down by the courts in 2011 and of this, the percentage directed to be paid to charities and specifically the Garda Benevolent Trust Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55816/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998 management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the total value of fines imposed by the District Court in 2011 was €38,031,000.00. However, it should be noted that in the same period, a total of €12,833,000.00 worth of fines imposed were reversed as a result of a further application to court. Fines imposed by courts are criminal sanctions generally payable to the Exchequer or, failing this, to the appropriate agency or authority nominated within the specific legislation that was breached and gave rise to a fine. Fines are not paid to charities and no fines monies were paid to the Garda Benevolent Fund in 2011.

  As the Deputy will be aware, funds are also paid from time to time to charities from the court’s poor box. The court poor box is a non-statutory system used mostly by the District Courts to impose a financial charge on a defendant to be used for a charitable purpose, usually instead of imposing a criminal conviction. Payments made to the court poor box are accounted for by the court office concerned and the accounting procedures are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Generally, charities are the recipients of poor box contributions but the decision is solely at the discretion of the Judge who is independent in the matter of sentencing, as in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the Constitution and the law. I am informed by the Courts Service that in 2011, €1,733,641.85 was paid into court as a result of poor box orders and of this amount, €28,138.00 was paid to the Garda Benevolent Fund.

  In 2005, the Law Reform Commission examined the matter in its report entitled The Court Poor Box: Probation of Offenders  (LRC 75-2005). The Commission recognised both the negative and positive aspects of the court use of the poor box and accordingly recommended that the court poor box be replaced by a statutory reparation fund. A key element of the LRC recommendation was that the reparation fund should be ringfenced and used to assist programmes aimed at preventing offending behaviour and for the purpose of assisting victims of crime. The Commission was of the view that the reparation fund should remain linked to the criminal justice process and thus broadly adhere to the principles of restorative justice. I intend to bring forward legislation in the near future to replace the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 with modern provisions dealing with community sanctions and the role of the Probation Service in the criminal justice system. In the context of that legislation, the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in relation to the court poor box are being examined by my Department with a view to bringing forward proposals for a transparent statutory retribution scheme.

Departmental Contracts

 158. Deputy Damien English Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide details of each service in his Department that is currently outsourced; the company that provides such services and the total cost for these services; the other services which may be outsourced in the future that are currently being run in his Department; the names of the companies, fees paid and nature of service for all contracts awarded from his Department excluding legal, accounting, PR or building refurbishment related services since March 2011.  [55833/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My Department has entered into no new contracts for new externally delivered services since March 2011. For more information on external service delivery policy in the Justice and Equality sector, I refer the Deputy to the response (given below) to Parliamentary Question No. 334 on 11 December 2012.

My Department is committed to achieving a focused and integrated approach to external service delivery of non-core processes with the objective of reducing cost and focusing staff on priority areas as agreed by the Government last July. The Department of Justice & Equality is responsible for a broad range of public administration concerns, many of which go to the heart of what is vital in a democratic society, and, as such, are not always suitable for external service delivery. However, within this constraint, the Justice Sector delivers the following services by means of external service delivery:

1. An Garda Síochána speed camera system and associated administrative processes;

2. The collection of fines and payments for the Fixed Charge Processing System and Firearms Certificates for An Garda Síochána.

3. The printing of Fixed Charge Processing System notices and firearms certificates for An Garda Síochána.

4. The collection, towing and storage of seized motor vehicles in certain Garda divisions (to be extended to other divisions over time).

5. The Justice IT Shared Service to the Department and a large number of offices and agencies in the Sector is provided through external service delivery.

6. Maintenance of small vehicles for An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service.

7. The collection of court imposed fines for the Courts Service (it is intended this contract will coincide with the full implementation of the Fines Act 2010 which includes the payment of fines by instalment.)

I also recently approved an initiative to put in place a panel with legal expertise who will assist the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in processing a cohort of repatriation cases thus speeding up the overall process and reducing the time spent by persons in the Direct Provision system. I would expect to see significant dividends from this initiative in the coming months.

All new services will be tested for suitability for external service delivery as they arise and in line with Government policy.

Child Abduction

 159. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the measures and systems in place to restrict children travelling from Ireland, who are restricted from doing so by family court orders without the permission of the second parent or guardian, in particular to the UK where a passport is not a requirement for entry. [55847/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can inform the Deputy that a system of immigration exit controls does not exist in this jurisdiction and the Deputy will appreciate that there would be special difficulties with operating such a system in the context of the border with Northern Ireland.

  If a person removes a child from the State in breach of another person's custody rights, that other person can make an application under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to have the child returned to them. The Convention is designed to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed from one contracting state to another, or wrongfully retained in another contracting state. It is based on the principle that the custody of the child should be decided by the courts in the state in which the child habitually resides. The Convention is in force in over 80 countries world-wide. Where a child is removed to or wrongfully retained in another EU state, the Brussels II bis regulation applies, and regulates the application of the Convention between EU member states. There is a network of Central Authorities established under the Convention for the purpose of assisting applicants. My Department operates as the Central Authority for Ireland and can be contacted for assistance at 01/4790200 or by e-mail internationalchildabduction@justice.ie.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 160. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 500 of 13 November 2012, if he will detail the nature of the potential concerns raised about these appointments; if they have been investigated and if so were they found justified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55887/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that the management of the staff of my Department is a matter for the Secretary General of the Department. I would ask the Deputy, given that this question seems to be one in a series of similar questions over recent months, that if he is aware of any particular issues concerning a particular individual he asks that individual to highlight those concerns directly to my Department's Personnel Officer. I do not believe that the use of Parliamentary Questions is the most appropriate manner to address any potentially valid concerns a staff member might have, particularly if the HR Department has not had an opportunity to address legitimate concerns around the selection of persons for specific posts.

I understand that an individual referred to in reply to PQ No. 500 of 13 November 2012, and who has since left the Department, had sought access to the records pertaining to his application for a posting to the Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels for the period leading up to and during the forthcoming EU Presidency. In pursuing such access the individual concerned stated that his request was motivated by seeking to ensure the processes involved had been applied in a fair or transparent fashion. No formal complaint has been received from the officer concerned, on foot of that query.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 161. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 171 of 4 October 2012, the way staff were selected for Dublin Airport posts; if Irish language abilities were weighed into the selection decision; if any complaints or concerns were made regarding these appointments and if so the outcome of any subsequent investigation; the reason these officials have been subjected to daily security checks while other airport employees are not; if he has concerns regarding the payment of extra pay or allowances to these officials such as paid to other civil servants working in the airport; and if so, will he outline details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55888/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In February of this year, I introduced on a pilot basis, a project of civilianisation of certain port of entry functions at Dublin Airport. Until the start of the pilot, immigration controls at ports of entry were carried out solely by members of An Garda Síochána appointed as immigration officers. The purpose of the pilot is to test the feasibility of a new model for delivery of immigration services at ports of entry to the State by using a combination of civilian staff and members of An Garda Síochána. As I stated in my reply to Dáil Question No. 171 of 4th October, 2012, the pilot has been a success in demonstrating the feasibility of the new model and the experience and learning from the pilot will form the basis for proposals to extend the model on a full scale basis to Dublin Airport, and possibly in due course to other ports of entry to the State.

For the pilot, invitations for expression of interest were invited from serving Clerical Officers (CO) and Executive Officers (EO) from across the Department of Justice and Equality. A short-listing of interested candidates followed by an interview with those short-listed was carried out and a panel of suitable candidates at EO and CO level was established. I am informed that one individual made a complaint regarding their failure to be short-listed. Department of Finance Circulars 43/75 and 30/1990 set out the provisions as regards credit for proficiency in both Irish and English in confined promotion competitions. Since promotions were not involved in the assignments to the airport, the terms of these circulars did not apply. It should be noted that staff on the pilot who are currently deployed at Pier B in Terminal One operate a standard day between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Accordingly, questions of additional core pay, allowances, shift patterns, etc. do not arise. These are, of course, matters under consideration as part of the rollout of the overall project including discussions with the relevant representative bodies in due course.

The Deputy will appreciate that matters of airport security are a matter, in the first instance, for the Airport authorities under the policy direction of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Garda Districts

 162. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will clarify the geographical area which will be covered by the newly enlarged Garda districts of Ballina and Claremorris County Mayo under the proposed district amalgamations and boundary realignments set out in the 2013 policing plan of an Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55903/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts, proposals to change Garda District geographical boundaries are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner, in the context of the Annual Policing Plan.

Proposals to amalgamate a number of Garda District have been included by the Garda Commissioner in his Policing Plan for 2013. This has been done following a comprehensive review of current District structures carried out by the Garda authorities. In particular, the review was designed to identify strategic reforms which would lead to increased efficiencies, improved operational capacity and enhanced Garda service delivery.

It is in this context that the Commissioner has proposed the amalgamation of the Swinford Garda District with the Claremorris District. Following the amalgamation, both stations will continue to provide a 24 hour policing service. The new enlarged Claremorris District will cover the subdistricts of Swinford, Claremorris, Ballinrobe, Knock, Kilmaine, Shrule, Cong, Ballyhaunis, Ballindine, Charlestown, Kiltimagh and Kilkelly. In addition, the subdistrict of Foxford will be transferred to the Ballina Garda District.

Garda Stations Closures

 163. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the maximum distance to a 24-hour Garda station he considers acceptable to service a local community when the Garda station in its locality is proposed to be closed down under the programme of consolidation of the Garda network which is being implemented; and the considerations being given to persons living in remote rural areas with poor road infrastructure.  [55905/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that 100 of the 664 Garda Stations throughout the State are due to close in the coming year. The stations selected for closure are those which are in areas that, in the professional opinion of the Garda Commissioner, could be better served by having Gardaí patrolling the areas rather than being confined to a specific premises. In coming to this view, the Commissioner would have taken all relevant factors into consideration, including the distance to other stations.

Details of the closures are set out in the Policing Plan have for 2013 which is lodged in the Oireachtas library. The Plan also provides details of the alternative policing arrangements for the areas in question. In this regard, the Deputy will also be aware that the Garda National Model of Community Policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs, including in remote areas. In this regard the Gardaí continue to work closely with all communities to enhance community safety through a wide range of local fora such as Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch, as well as more formal structures such as Joint Policing Committees.

The implementation of the reduction in the number of Garda stations and Districts will take place in full consultation with the local communities and staffing interests. Local Garda management will shortly commence the process of engaging with these communities through the Joint Policing Committees and other fora to advise them of the revised policing arrangements for the localities in question. The objective will be to ensure that the best possible policing service will be provided at all times.

I am conscious of the need to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, the operational effectiveness of An Garda Síochána. It is for that reason that a further €5 million is being made available for the purchase and fit-out of new Garda vehicles in 2013. This level of expenditure, at a time of severe budgetary constraint, represents a very significant investment in Garda transport and I have no doubt that the additional funding will considerably strengthen the overall effectiveness of the Force in delivering a policing service to communities throughout the country. I am also confident that, when the relevant budgetary figures are being determined for 2014, the importance of investment in Garda transport will continue to be recognised.

Deportation Orders Data

 164. 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 the position regarding deportation in respect of a person (details supplied). [55927/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Given that the person concerned had no valid basis to remain in the State, he was notified, by letter dated 17th July, 2010, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should not have a Deportation Order made against him.

  The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted, including the information included with the Deputy's Question, will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision, and the consequences of the decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

  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.


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