Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 124-137
 Header Item Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Exemptions
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Legal Aid Application Numbers

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 124-137

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Exemptions

 124. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if a person who cannot live in their home due to a court order/barring order which prevents them from living in their home is exempt from the non principal private residence payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56166/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing the Non-Principal Private Residence Charge. The Charge is set at €200 and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties.

  It is a matter for an owner to determine if he or she has a liability and, if so, to declare that liability and pay the Charge.   A number of exemptions from the Charge are set out in section 4 of the 2009 Act. It is not possible, from the information provided, to determine whether any such exemption may apply in the specific instance referred to in the question.

  In any event, under the Act it is a function of a local authority to collect the Non-Principal Private Residence Charge. Application of the legislation in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority.

  I urge all liable persons who are unsure as to whether they are liable to contact their local authority as a matter of urgency.

Proposed Legislation

 125. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will give consideration to reforming the current maternity leave system in order that fathers could take some of the leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56168/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter There are no plans at present to amend the Maternity Leave system to allow fathers to take some of that leave.

I intend to seek Government approval shortly for the General Scheme of the Family Leave Bill which will transpose Council Directive 2010/18/EU on Parental Leave. This new legislation will provide for an additional four weeks parental leave for both mothers and fathers. The Bill will also consolidate all of the various family leave legislation (maternity, adoptive, parental and carer's leave) in one Bill. This will also provide an opportunity to examine whether there is scope for additional improvements in current provisions in the area for leave for fathers.

Departmental Correspondence

 126. 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 respond to the correspondence sent to him from a member of the public (details supplied) in County Donegal; if he will consider the request made to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56010/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In relation to the Deputy's question, I will be responding to the correspondence sent to me. The Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time in relation to a family law matter which has been the subject of legal proceedings.

Citizenship Applications

 127. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the measures he is putting in place to ensure transparency and fairness in the application process for citizenship following the recent Supreme Court decision (details supplied) quashing a decision to refuse citizenship on the grounds that he had failed to give reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56027/12]

 128. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the citizenship applications that have been rejected by him without explanations being given; if these cases are under review in view of the recent Supreme Court decision (details supplied) quashing a decision to refuse citizenship on the grounds that he had failed to give reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56028/12]

 135. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to review cases similar to Mallak v. the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, following the decision of the Supreme Court in relation to the lack of transparency and fairness in the process of applying for Irish citizenship.  [56090/12]

 136. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to progress with the introduction of an independent review mechanism for those whose applications for Irish citizenship were turned down, following the highlighting of the lack of transparency and fairness in the process by the Supreme Court Mallak v. the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.  [56091/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 128, 135 and 136 together.

  The implications of the judgement of the Supreme Court referred to by the Deputies are being considered in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and any revised procedures arising will be implemented without delay. The Deputies should note that although the Supreme Court in its judgement quashed the Minister's decision to refuse the application in this particular case, it went on to say that it is not for the Court to prescribe whether the Minister will give notice of his concerns to the applicant or to disclose information on which they may be based or whether the Minister will continue to refuse to disclose reasons for the refusal but to provide justification for so doing. In the particular case it is open to the applicant to lodge a new application.

  Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions include lawful residence, being of good character and having an intention to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation.

  All applications for naturalisation are submitted to me for decision. I make my decision in my absolute discretion based on the entirety of the case presented and taking into account other important considerations which I as Minister have a duty to uphold such as the integrity of the immigration system, the economic and security interests of the State and its international relations.

  It is open to any individual who is not satisfied with a decision to deem their application ineligible or a decision to refuse citizenship to lodge a new application for citizenship at any time in accordance with the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

  To put the matter into context, since coming into office I have made decisions on over 37,200 applications of which 34,100 were approved. A total of 3,100 were deemed ineligible or were rejected because they did not comply with the statutory criteria. Only a very small number of applications that were refused fall within the consideration of the judgement in question.

Garda Stations Closures

 129. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the way he intends to address the policing needs of the 100 communities in which he proposes to close local Garda stations; the way the Garda Commissioner intends to provide policing cover in these areas following the relocation of locally based Gardaí to stations in larger urban centres; if the relocated Gardaí will continue to police their former communities as usual or if they will be absorbed into the provision of service at their new location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56032/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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. 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. 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.

Details of the closures are set out in the Policing Plan have for 2013 which is available in the Oireachtas library. The Plan also provides details of the alternative policing arrangements for the areas in question. The Commissioner has indicated that wherever possible and subject to operational requirements, Gardai attached to a station which is scheduled for closure will be assigned within the local District.

We also need to be honest about the level of policing service that was capable of being provided from the stations that were and are to be closed. Of the 100 stations to be closed next year, 98% are only open part-time, 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less, 88% are served by 1 Garda and only 5% are served by 3 or more Garda personnel. In fact, of the 39 stations closed this year, 8 were not actually open at all. Their closure was a paper exercise which simply recognised reality.

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.

Garda Stations Closures

 130. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the savings that will arise from his proposed closure of a Garda Station (details supplied) in County Kildare; his plans for the station building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56033/12]

 131. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the savings that will arise from his proposed closure of a Garda station in County Kildare; his plans for the station building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56034/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 131 together.

The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote and I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the annual financial saving estimated to arise in respect of the closure of the stations referred to by the Deputy is Euro 4,000 per station. To a large extent these estimates relate to heating and lighting costs and they do not take account of specific repair bills, which will vary from premises to premises.

As the Deputy will be aware, the closure of the two stations has been proposed by the Garda Commissioner in his Policing Plan for 2013 and I would stress that the key objective involved is to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than to secure modest cash savings. In this context the Commissioner has concluded in relation to certain stations that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if the stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained.

In making his recommendations on the closure of Garda stations, the Commissioner reviewed all aspects of An Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations. In addition, the Commissioner has given a commitment that where a station is to be closed local Garda management will consult with local communities on the alternative policing arrangements to be put in place in their area.

Furthermore, the Garda Commissioner has indicated he is confident that the implementation of the restructuring proposals contained in the 2013 Policing Plan will not lead to any diminution in the service provided by An Garda Síochána. In that regard he has stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country.

The question of the future of a vacated Garda station is a matter for the Office of Public Works. Where such a premises is State-owned, it will be available for alternative community use or disposal.

Garda Investigations

 132. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has received any progress report from the Gardaí regarding an investigation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56057/12]

 133. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has investigated the circumstances surrounding the theft of a file from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the circumstances under which this file was returned to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56058/12]

 134. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason criminal charges against a person (details supplied) were dropped by the Gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56059/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 to 134, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the examination surrounding the circumstances of the death of Father Niall Molloy is ongoing. The Commissioner has assured me that each and every line of inquiry is being or will be pursued. Upon receipt of a final report from the Commissioner I will review the situation.

I understand that a number of issues arising out of the theft of the files referred to by the Deputy are being examined by the Garda authorities as part of the above examination and will form part of the final report. In the circumstances, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this stage.

  Questions Nos. 135 and 136 answered with Question No. 127.

Legal Aid Application Numbers

 137. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the current waiting times for Legal Aid Board services in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56109/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that the Legal Aid Board is a statutory, independent body in accordance with the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995. The issue he has raised is a matter for the Board. However, in order to be helpful to the Deputy I have had enquiries made with the Board on his behalf.

I am advised that the Legal Aid Board has a full time Law Centre in Nenagh. The Centre is among a number of centres piloting an ‘early legal advice’ or ‘triage’ service. The objective of this service is to ensure that every applicant gets to see, within one month of their application, a solicitor for a legal advice appointment lasting no more than 45 minutes.

The Centre is meeting this commitment at the moment. Applicants who require further services are currently waiting for approximately five months (from the date of their original application). The Centre operates part-time offices in Thurles and Clonmel also. The waiting times are similar to the Centre in Nenagh. The waiting time was approximately 10 months at the start of the year but this has reduced considerably during the course of this year.

In addition to the above, I am informed that the Legal Aid Board provides a priority service in cases where it considers that an immediate, or near immediate, service was needed. These include cases of domestic violence, child abduction, cases involving applications by the State to take children into care, and cases that have statutory time limits close to expiry.


Last Updated: 06/05/2020 11:58:26 First Page Previous Page Page of 73 Next Page Last Page