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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 750 - 768
 Header Item Legislative Measures
 Header Item Prison Accommodation Provision
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Prison Medical Service
 Header Item Garda Expenditure
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Closed Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Garda Recruitment
 Header Item Departmental Meetings
 Header Item Coroners Service
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Departmental Investigations
 Header Item Equality Issues

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 750 - 768

Legislative Measures

 750. 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 current status of the criminal justice (community sanctions) Bill; and if he will outline specifically the extent to which the provisions of the Bill will apply to persons charged with road traffic offences.  [13227/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In early February, the Government approved the drafting of a Criminal Justice (Community Sanctions) Bill 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.

The General Scheme of the Bill, which is available on my Department's website, has been submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality for pre-legislative consideration and has been submitted to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting. The issue of the applicability of the proposed legislation to road traffic offences will be considered during the drafting of the Bill in consultation with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Prison Accommodation Provision

 751. 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 whether the transfer of all inmates aged under 21 years from St. Patrick’s Institution to Wheatfield Prison has been completed; and the current number of inmates under 21 years of age in Wheatfield Prison with a breakdown based on the ages of all of the inmates in this cohort. [13231/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to advise the Deputy that all prisoners aged between 18 and 21, sentenced to detention have been transferred from St Patrick's Institution to Wheatfield Place of Detention. On 24 March 2014, four 17 year olds remain in St Patrick's. These are remand prisoners who, for legal reasons, must remain there pending the completion of building works at Oberstown, County Dublin.

Prisoners aged under 21 years old currently in Wheatfield Place of Detention on 24 March 2014 are set out in the following table.

Age
Number of Prisoner
17 years
13
18 years
19
19 years
21
20 years
24

School Curriculum

 752. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question No. 399 of 11 March 2014, if and when same sex marriage is passed, if demominational schools will still be allowed to teach that marriage is between one man and one woman only; if they will be forced to teach that same sex marriage is equally legitimate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13250/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As I indicated in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 399 of 11 March 2014, "No school will be obliged to change its religious teachings in relation to marriage". Of course, where a school covers issues relating to civil marriage in its teaching programme, it is to be presumed that it would, in doing this, provide full and accurate factual information on the matter to students.

Prison Medical Service

 753. 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 if he will approve the release on medical grounds of a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that the Irish Prison Service requested a second medical opinion which has now been received and which agreed with the prisoners own consultant that they should be released on health grounds. [13276/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service did not seek a second medical opinion in relation to this person, the offer of a second medical opinion was made by the treating consultant, which was facilitated by the Irish Prison Service in November 2013.

It is not intended to provide the prisoner with early release on medical grounds. I stated on the record on the 15th October 2013 that the prisoner referred to in this question is under review by the Parole Board and his case will be reviewed in March 2015.

Garda Expenditure

 754. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an annual breakdown, in tabular form, of the amount invested in policing services in County Donegal yearly since 2008.  [13296/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that an annual breakdown of specific expenditure incurred from 2008 to 2013 in respect of the Donegal Garda Division is as presented in the following table.   



  Donegal Garda Division
2008 €38,453,280
2009 €38,271,916
2010 €35,021,587
2011 €34,769,727
2012 €31,645,622
2013 €30,777,911


  I also understand that certain further Garda expenditure arose in relation to the Division which was met centrally by the Force. However, the details involved are not readily available and I am advised that significant Garda resources would be required to extract them.

Visa Applications

 755. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason an application for a visa has been refused by his Department (details supplied). [13136/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The visa application referred to by the Deputy was made by a person who wished to join their spouse in Ireland on a permanent basis. It was received in the Visa Office, Abu Dhabi on 30 December 2013. Following full consideration, the Visa Officer decided to refuse the application on 28 January 2014 and the person concerned was informed of the reasons.

The decision to refuse was appealed on 4 March 2014. The appeal will be considered by a Visa Appeals Officer and a decision will issue in due course. As outlined in the refusal letter issued to the applicant, the application was refused for a number of reasons, including insufficient evidence/documentation being provided to demonstrate the bone fides of the relationship, inconsistencies in the information provided in the application and the risk that the granting of a visa would result in a cost to public funds or resources. Queries in relation to general immigration matters 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.

Departmental Properties

 756. 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 amount his Department spent on rent for a property (details supplied) in Dublin 13; when the next rent review may take place on the property in question. [13332/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter No rent has been expended by my Department on the property referred to. It is leased by the Office of Public Works (OPW) on behalf of my Department for use by the Probation Service. The OPW are therefore best placed to assist the Deputy with any further information that may be required.

Garda Operations

 757. 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 Garda Operation Munster; the number of persons arrested and charged; and the number of successful convictions that have been obtained to date as part of this operation. [13333/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that Operation Muster was conducted on 4 and 5 March, 2014 by Gardaí in Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford supported by the Regional Support Unit with the assistance of Customs Officers. The operation targeted a specific organised crime gang involved in burglaries across these counties, and involved searches of a large number of residential premises, and the seizure of property. I am further informed that 16 people were arrested and 37 charges were preferred as a result of Operation Muster. Relevant court proceedings have not yet been completed.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

 758. 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 appropriate funding will be provided to fund a new phase of a Garda CCTV system in view of the continuing high levels of burglary and related crime. [13334/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Garda CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of An Garda Síochána's identified operational needs and priorities. Accordingly, decisions in relation to the introduction or extension of such systems are a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the question of extending the current Garda CCTV arrangements is being kept under ongoing review in the context of overall policy considerations and the availability of funding.

Residency Permits

 759. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the procedure to be followed to make an application for long-term residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13344/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for Long Term Residency in November 2012. However, as the application did not satisfy the eligibility criteria, the application was refused, also in November 2012.

Long Term Residency is granted on the basis that non EEA national has completed five years legal residency on work permit/work authorisation/ working visa or green card permit conditions. The applicant must be deemed to be of good character. Additionally. all applicants must have permission to remain in the State at the time the application is submitted, and be in gainful employment throughout and after the application process. Residency is calculated from the corresponding Stamp1/Stamp 4 endorsements in an applicant's passport and not by the dates of commencement and expiry of each work permit/work authorisation/ working visa or green card permit.

It is open to any individual to lodge an application for Long Term Residency if and when they are in a position to meet the eligibility criteria. Full details of the qualifying criteria can be found on www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Garda Recruitment

 760. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the cut-off point for consideration of new Garda recruits is 2,000 candidates.  [13355/14]

 761. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if membership of the Garda Reserve will provide candidates just outside the cut-off point any special consideration should new recruiting begin in the future. [13356/14]

 762. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to have any future large scale recruitment drives for the Gardaí after the current 300. [13357/14]

 763. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the selection criteria used to determine the progression of candidates from phase two to three of the most recent Garda recruitment campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13360/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 760 to 763, inclusive, together.

  I can inform the Deputy that recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013.

  The Public Appointments Service (PAS) is managing the recruitment process for the Garda Commissioner and I have no direct involvement in the matter. I have, however, been informed that some 25,000 applications were received for the current competition. It is understood that around 18,000 candidates completed stage 1 tests of which less than 13,000 reached a satisfactory standard. These 13,000 candidates were placed in three Bands in order of merit. All candidates have been informed by PAS of the results of these tests and of their position in each Band.

  The top 5,000 candidates were placed in Band 1. These were then called to the next stages of the competition which involve further online unsupervised assessment tests and ultimately supervised tests, interviews, medical examinations and security checks. All these tests are designed to identify candidates who are suitable to be a Garda trainee. Candidates who are successful through all stages will be placed on a panel for entry into training in the Garda College. A candidate who fails any stage of the process will be eliminated from the competition and will not be allowed re-enter.

  The Regulations provide that, as part of the competitive selection process organised by the Public Appointments Service for full-time membership of An Garda Síochána, "due recognition to any satisfactory service by the person as a reserve member"  shall be given to such candidates. This provision was introduced in order to acknowledge the beneficial experience and skills gained by a reserve member and to allow them, at assessments and at interview, the opportunity to highlight that experience and skill. It is important that all persons wishing to join the full time force undergo the same competitive selection and recruitment process. In doing so the integrity of the process is maintained at all stages of the competition.

  My objective is to maintain Garda strength at 13,000 and the number of trainees to be recruited will be determined taking that objective into account along with the rate of departures from the force over the coming years. It is hoped to have 300 recruits entering training in Templemore in 2014.

Departmental Meetings

 764. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of times his Department received requests by Philanthropy Ireland to meet in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of times his Department met with Philanthropy Ireland in those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13392/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is represented on the Forum on Philanthropy and Fund-raising and officials from my Department attend the regular meetings of the Forum in this capacity. Philanthropy Ireland is also represented on this Forum.

I can further advise the Deputy that officials from my Department met with representatives of Philanthropy Ireland on three occasions in 2012 and on one occasion in 2013 in connection with the proposed EU regulation to introduce a Statute for a European Foundation. These meetings also included representatives of the European Foundation Centre. Finally, I can also advise the Deputy that my Department had a further meeting with Philanthropy Ireland in March 2012 to assist in the preparation of a Victims of Crime Consultative Forum on Philanthropy and fund-raising.

Coroners Service

 765. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter in view of the TV3 programme "A Search for Justice: Death in Bray" broadcast on the evening of 10 March 2014 (details supplied) and the clear criticism of the conduct of the Coroner for East Wicklow, if he will re-consider his refusal to direct an inquiry into the conduct of the Coroner, pursuant to section 15 of the Coroners Act 1962; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13416/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I appreciate the concerns that are involved in relation to the matters raised by the Deputy. As he will be aware, the background circumstances are linked to a very tragic set of events which occurred in 2009 and resulted in the death of two persons. I am very conscious of the fact that these deaths have impacted significantly on the families concerned.

The primary legislation currently applicable to coroners is the Coroners Act 1962. With regard to the holding of an inquest the position is that under the 1962 Act a coroner is a statutory officer exercising quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which he or she is independent. Accordingly, a coroner is responsible for the holding of an inquest and for conducting the inquest. In that regard it is not open to myself or to my Department to intervene in relation to a particular case. In so far as section 15 of the Act is concerned it should be noted that this section is primarily concerned with the removal of coroners from office and it does not confer general powers of inquiry on the Minister.

The Deputy will be aware that the Coroners Bill 2007 was restored to the Order Paper in 2011. The Bill provides for a comprehensive overhaul of the law relating to coroners and it makes provision for the recognition of the views of a victim’s family. In particular section 36 of the Bill provides that the coroner is required to inform the family of the deceased person, or such interested person as the coroner considers appropriate, of a range of matters relating to the investigation of the death. For example, the coroner would be required, in so far as is practicable, to keep such persons informed of the progress and conclusion of the investigation. The Deputy can be assured that the concerns he has raised will be fully taken into account in the review of the Coroners Bill which is being carried out within my Department.

Garda Operations

 766. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter in view of allegations that more than 40 Traveller families, including a Traveller baby, were registered on the PULSE system, if he will set out in detail the specific enquiries he has made and assurances he has received from the Garda Commissioner regarding same; if he will publish any relevant correspondence; and if he will set out in detail the steps that both he and the Commissioner have taken since he was made aware of the whistleblower's allegations in this regard by e-mail in December 2012.  [13419/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The management of the PULSE system is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. While An Garda Síochána doesn't comment on individual cases, I am informed by the Commissioner that PULSE does not solely capture information on offenders, but is also used to store information on Garda interactions with individuals, whether adults or children, such as victims of crime, persons injured in road traffic accidents and child welfare incidents. All persons are subject to the same PULSE recording policy and procedures.

  I have also been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the Garda Síochána does not engage in ethnic profiling, and specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the traveller community. The information and assurances were provided by the Commissioner in the context of my response to previous Parliamentary Questions on the matter.     

Departmental Investigations

 767. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will confirm that he will extend the terms of reference of the section 42 inquiry into the Roma children controversy to now include an examination of Garda racial profiling practices and any impact on the Garda conduct and decision to remove the two Roma children from their families; if he will examine the wider question of whether and to what degree racial profiling practices exist in An Garda Síochána; and if he will make recommendations in this regard.  [13420/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The terms of Reference for the Inquiry being undertaken by Ms Emily Logan into the events referred to by the Deputy are set out in the Statutory Instrument No. 481 of 2013 entitled "Garda Síochána Act 2005 (Section 42)(Special Inquiries Relating to Garda Síochána) Order 2013", notice of which was published in Iris Oifigúil on Friday 13 December 2013.

  The Deputy will note that the terms of reference of the Inquiry, as agreed with Ms Logan, outline that “The Inquiry shall have regard to all relevant matters”  . The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry were drafted in this broad manner to allow Ms Logan examine any issue which she may deem relevant to her Inquiry. In that context, I do not propose to amend these Terms of Reference.

  With regard to the wider question relating to racial profiling, I would inform the Deputy that I have been assured by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána does not engage in discriminatory ethnic or racial profiling, and specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the traveller community.

  I will, of course, consider any actions that may be necessary arising from any findings of Ms Logan's Inquiry when her Report is submitted to me in due course.

Equality Issues

 768. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the steps he has taken to address the findings regarding Garda racial profiling as set out in the European Commission on Racism and Intolerance report of February 2013; and if, in accordance with the strong recommendations of that report and of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, his programme for legislative reform will include a Bill to prohibit racial profiling by gardaí, which is all the more necessary in view of the fact that services provided by gardaí are largely exempt from protection by equality legislation.  [13421/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My Department is aware of the report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and also of the report of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. My Department is also aware that the European Commission report makes no allegation that such profiling is actually carried out. This is not surprising given that an Garda Síochána do not engage in racial profiling. In that regard I am advised that the Garda Síochána does not engage in discriminatory ethnic or racial profiling, and specifically that it does not engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the traveller community.

Racial profiling in services offered by the Gardaí is already prohibited by race discrimination under Equal Status legislation. However, investigation of crime, public order etc are not services - they come under the controlling functions of the State and, as such, are outside the scope of equality legislation. The question of whether we should create a legislative prohibition therefore needs to be considered in that light.

This is of course a complex matter. Ireland has become a much more diverse society and indeed the nature of Irishness has evolved as many people from overseas have made their homes here. At the same time immigration control is an important national interest and our laws must be enforced. I believe however that it is perfectly possible to operate an effective system of immigration control without resorting to racial profiling but relying instead on good intelligence and the professional judgement and experience of our Gardaí and immigration officers and indeed this has been demonstrated to be the case. I will consider this matter further in the development of the Immigration Protection and Residence Bill which I propose to republish later this year.


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