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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 81 - 105
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Immigrant Investor Programme Administration
 Header Item Refugee Resettlement Programme
 Header Item Wards of Court
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Legislative Programme
 Header Item Protected Disclosures
 Header Item Courts Service Data
 Header Item Garda Data
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Court Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Irish Prison Service
 Header Item UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
 Header Item Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility
 Header Item NAMA Property Sales
 Header Item NAMA Property Sales
 Header Item Financial Services Ombudsman
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Pensions Data

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 81 - 105

Naturalisation Applications

 81. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if an original passport submitted with a recent application for naturalisation can now be returned in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14933/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the recent application for a certificate of naturalisation, including the original passport, has been returned to the person concerned. She should re-submit the application, including the original passport, when she is in a position to do so and when she expects that she will not need the passport for at least 4 weeks. This period is to allow appropriate checks to be carried out on all identity documents submitted in support of an application for naturalisation. She should also have regard to the requirement for the Statutory Declaration, which forms part of the prescribed form, to be properly completed when submitting the application.

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.

Direct Provision System

 82. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald further to Parliamentary Question No. 32 of 16 February 2017, if she will provide the progress audit, in tabular form, for each of the 173 recommendations of the McMahon report; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [14941/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, on 23 February last, Minister Stanton and I published a report showing further significant progress in implementing the recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Protection Process including Direct Provision and other supports for asylum seekers.

A total of 121 of the recommendations are now implemented, with a further 38 partially implemented or in progress. This means that 92% of the Report's 173 recommendations are now implemented, partially implemented or are in progress. This is a significant increase on the 80% reported in the first audit of progress published last June. I am especially pleased that the key recommendation of the Working Group, the introduction of a single application procedure within our international protection process, has been implemented, following commencement of the International Protection Act, 2015 on 31 December last.

Under the single procedure, an applicant will make one application, and will have all grounds for seeking international protection and to be permitted to remain in the State examined and determined in one process. This will positively address another key recommendation of the Working Group, the length of time which applicants spend in the process and consequently in the Direct Provision system.

I can also confirm that legal issues around the extension of the remit of the Offices of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children to include access for residents in Direct Provision centres have now been clarified. I am pleased to say we can now give effect to this recommendation and I now expect that information will be made available by both Offices to residents in all accommodation centres.

The latest audit report also highlights the many improvements in living conditions for applicants and their families in Direct Provision Centres including the introduction of an independent living system in Mosney which will be rolled out to other centres during the course of 2017 and beyond. These improvements are in line with our commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to reform the Direct Provision system.

Significant progress has also been made in dealing with those in the protection process for the longest time. When the Working Group examined the figures in 2015 there were 2,695 people in Direct Provision for 3 or more years. As of 1st January this year, this has been reduced by 55% to 1,204 people. The number of people in the system for 5 years or more has reduced by 58% from 1,946 to 811. Only 251 of these are awaiting a final decision on their protection application and the vast majority of these cannot be processed for various reasons such as pending judicial review proceedings. In effect, this means that almost all cases in the Direct Provision system for over five years that can be processed have been.

Details of progress on all of the 173 recommendations are available in the audit report which has been posted on my Department's website and on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

Immigrant Investor Programme Administration

 83. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the status of a query (details supplied) regarding the immigrant investor programme. [14942/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the query referred to by the Deputy was only received on 20 March 2017 and that an automated response issued advising that due to the current volume of emails, there may be some delay in responding in detail to the query. However, the interim response also provided details of the website where information and updates on the Immigrant Investor Programme are posted regularly.

The details supplied on 22 March 2017 provide an unreasonable timeframe in which to provide a response and acts to the detriment of other queries that have been received and are being managed in accordance with the INIS Customer Service Charter. This provides that the majority of written communications will be acknowledged within 5 working days and a final reply within 20 working days. I am assured that this query will be responded to within that timeframe.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

 84. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of the 4,000 Syrian refugees that the Government committed to taking in that have been taken as of 28 February 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15008/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton As the Deputy will be aware, the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established by Government Decision on 10 September 2015 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis that developed in Southern Europe as a consequence of mass migration from areas of conflict in the Middle East and Africa. Under this programme, the Government has pledged to accept a total of 4,000 persons into the State, 2,622 through the EU relocation mechanism established by two EU Council Decisions in 2015 to assist Italy and Greece, and 1,040 (519 by the end of 2016 and the remainder in 2017) under the UNHCR-led refugee resettlement programme currently focussed on resettling refugees from Lebanon.

  In a further gesture of humanitarian assistance towards the most vulnerable caught up in the migration crisis and following a debate in the Dáil, the Government also committed to taking up to 200 unaccompanied minors from France who were previously resident in the migrant camp at Calais. These initiatives therefore leave just a small residual balance to be allocated from the Government decision to take 4,000 persons.

  In summary, to the end of 28th February 2017, the numbers of persons that have arrived under both the programme refugee resettlement strand and the relocated asylum seeker strands of the programme are set out in Table 1 and Table 2 respectively.

Table 1: Programme Refugees

Total PeopleAdultsMinorsAge 0-4Age 5-12Age 13-17
62728734010518451


Table 2: Relocated Asylum Seekers
Total PeopleAdultsMinorsAge 0-4Age 5-12Age 13-17
320180140526523


  Further numbers have of course arrived under both of the above strands since 28 February. Full details on the two primary strands of the programme are set out below for the information of the Deputy.

  Resettlement strand of the programme

  Taking account of the situation in the Middle East, and the plight of the refugees, the Tánaiste announced that Ireland would accept 520 persons for resettlement over an 18-month period to the end of 2017. This was almost double the figure proposed for Ireland by the European Commission and was delivered a year ahead of the Commission deadline.

  In addition, the Government recently announced that it is extending the resettlement programme to take in a further 520 refugees from Lebanon in 2017, most of whom are of Syrian origin. 260 refugees have already been selected during a selection mission to Lebanon in October 2016 and are expected to arrive in Spring 2017. Most of these refugees are also Syrian. A further selection mission to Lebanon will be arranged in the coming months to select the remaining refugees due to come to Ireland in 2017 under the resettlement programme.   

  Relocation strand of the programme

  Despite initial delays outside of Ireland's control in respect of the operation of the 'hotspots' on the ground in Greece, Ireland has to-date taken in a total of 320 people from Greece under relocation, another 78 people have been formally accepted and are awaiting transport arrangements, and a further 155 have been assessed and are awaiting clearance. A monthly schedule has been agreed with the Greek authorities which will sustain the pace of intakes throughout 2017 at the levels required to allow Ireland to meets its commitments to Greece within the time frame envisaged by the Programme.    

  As regards Italy, the relocation mechanism from Italy has yet to commence for many countries, including Ireland, due to issues with the Italian authorities surrounding the security assessment of migrants assigned to other Member States. Intensive efforts are ongoing to resolve this, both bilaterally with Italian counterparts at official, diplomatic and Ministerial level, and at EU level, including through the European Commission and it is hoped that a resolution can be found in the coming weeks.

  The total target for relocation to Ireland in the Council Decisions also includes a further 910 persons but the country of origin for this cohort has not yet been assigned at EU level.

  Table 3 sets out the position regarding the assignment of the 4,000.

Table 3: Table of Total Numbers under Government Decision
Resettlement StrandNumbers
Council Decision 2015/1523600
Council Decision 2015/16012,022
Total Relocation2,622
Resettlement Strand 
Government Decision 09/06/15520
Government Decision 06/07/16260
Government Decision 29/11/16260
Total Resettlement1,040
Total Unaccompanied Minors Calais (Government Decision 10/11/16)200 (up to)
Mechanism as yet undecided138
Grand Total4000

Wards of Court

 85. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of persons currently being made a ward of court; the reason being given for the application, for example, older person, intellectual disability, mental health and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15057/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy may be aware, the High Court has jurisdiction in Wards of Court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that it is not possible to provide information on the number of persons currently being made a Ward of Court with reasons for the application. The Courts Service has advised that this information can be provided on a calendar year basis and that in 2016 a total of 289 adults were declared Wards of Court.

  The reasons given were as follows:

ReasonNumber of Wards of Court
Dementia and age related illness234
Brain injury20
Learning/intellectual disability18
Psychiatric7
Other10

Visa Applications

 86. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the lengthy processing times for join family, Irish national spouse, visa applications; her views on whether these waiting times are unacceptable and unfair on the families involved; the measures she will take to address these processing times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15062/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the current processing times for 'Join Family' visa applications by the Visa Office in Dublin is around 7 months. Applications processed in the seven Visa Offices abroad generally have a shorter processing time.

The Policy Document on Family Re-unification published in December, 2013 contains a stated business target that visa applications to join Irish citizens should be dealt with within six months of receipt of application. However, it should be noted that this is a business target and does not constitute a legal obligation. The business target reflects the detailed and often complex assessment that is required to be carried out in relation to applications for family reunification.

While the Visa Office endeavours to have applications of this nature processed as quickly as possible, processing times for visas can vary based on a number of factors such as the number of applications, individual circumstances, the complexity of applications, whether further information or investigation is required, and the resources available. Any delays in achieving the business target are primarily related to the processing of more complex cases where the provision of additional documentation is requested or where detailed assessments of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights are required.

The central concern, as with all visa services worldwide, in deciding on visa applications is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time facilitating travel for those who meet the criteria. Each visa application is decided on its own merits taking all relevant factors into account.

Legislative Programme

 87. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald further to Parliamentary Question No. 87 of 7 December 2016, the status of this issue; the status of progress in the drafting of the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15064/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The position in relation to the Sale of Alcohol Bill has not changed since my response to the parliamentary question referred to by the Deputy on 7 December 2016. The text of the Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2017, which is a Seanad Private Members' Bill, is being examined in my Department.

Protected Disclosures

 88. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the process within her Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15079/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will be aware, the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 came into operation on 15 July 2014 and my Department has since put a Protected Disclosure Policy in place. A copy of the policy can be found on the Department's website (www.justice.ie) and it has been communicated to all relevant staff who have also received specialist training in the provisions of the Act and the policy. The other vote holding bodies in the Justice sector have their own individual Protected Disclosure policies in place in line with the requirements of the Act.

  The policy advises workers to report to their line manager in the first instance. If a worker is reluctant to do this, they can report to the next highest level of management or to the Head of Internal Audit who acts as the final recipient for internal reporting. Alternatively, as provided for in the Act, an individual can make a disclosure externally to other recipients.

  On receipt, the procedure is that each disclosure is assessed by the Internal Audit Unit. As the Deputy will be aware, the Internal Audit Unit is an independent function reporting to an Audit Committee and also to the Secretary General. The preliminary assessment will determine if the disclosure comes within the scope of the legislation. Some issues, for example, may be more appropriate to the Civil Service Dignity at Work policy. The assessment will determine if the disclosure can be defined as a Protected Disclosure which will then be investigated. At all times the details of the discloser are maintained in a confidential manner in line with the requirements of the Act.

  The disclosure will generally be investigated by the Internal Audit Unit although in some circumstances it may be appropriate to appoint an external investigator. I am informed the investigator will meet with the Discloser personally and discuss the issue in more detail. The investigation process considers all evidence and determines if a wrongdoing has occurred. On completion of the investigation, the investigator makes a determination, assesses the further action required and outlines same in a report that is given to both the Discloser and the organisation. The Discloser is kept informed throughout the process.

  The policy provides the option of a review process where a Discloser is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation. An external reviewer reviews the file and assesses whether the evidence is available on file to back up the determination and findings made from the initial investigation. My Department has appointed a retired judge as the External Reviewer for this purpose.

  In line with section 22 of the 2014 Act, my Department publishes an annual report on matters dealt with under this internal policy. In 2015 there were 5 such communications received, of these 3 did not relate to my department, 1 was deemed not to be a protected disclosure and 1 disclosure was investigated and upheld. 10 communications were received in 2016; however 6 did not relate to my Department, 3 were deemed not to come within the scope of the Act and 1 is under review. An annual report in respect of 2016 will be published on the Department's website in due course.

  It is important to note that in certain instances my Department receives correspondence which is more appropriate for investigation by other organisations or agencies. In these instances the discloser will be informed that the communication is to be forwarded to the appropriate organisation for follow up. For example, where appropriate, correspondence may be forwarded to, for example, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission or the Courts Service or another Government Department.

  The Department is fully committed to ensuring that high standards are put in place throughout the organisation and its agencies, with a view to encouraging people to speak up. A number of steps have been taken to promote and support those who wish to make a disclosure, including detailed training delivered by external experts to approximately 500 managers on the 2014 Act and the relevant policies. In addition, both the Department and a number of its agencies have signed up to the Integrity at Work initiative delivered by Transparency International Ireland. This is aimed at promoting awareness of the Protected Disclosure Act and supportive working environments for anyone reporting concerns about wrongdoing and driving improvements in the culture and conditions in organisations relating to disclosures. My Department's policy encourages workers who wish to make a disclosure to contact Transparency International Ireland for support and advice.

Courts Service Data

 89. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald further to reply to Parliamentary Question No. 53 of 16 February 2017, and a further reply of 7 March 2017, the number of drink driving offences that were struck out in each court due to non-service of a summons in the years 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [15094/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Further to the Deputy's Parliamentary Question number 53 of 16 February 2017, and my post-reply to him dated 7 March 2017, the Courts Service has provided the following table relating to the number of drink driving offences that were struck out in each court due to non-service of a summons in the years 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017.

  It should be noted that a working group was established by An Garda Síochána to examine how the rate of summons serving can be improved and to regularly monitor the level of summons service throughout the country. While this group has reported improvements in the rate of successful service of summons, challenges remain in relation to effecting service of summons in certain circumstances, relating to such matters as inaccurate address data, persons moving address, or living in multi-occupancy dwellings or other settings which make service difficult.

NAMEJan - Dec 2015 No. of OffencesJan - Dec 2016No. of OffencesJan 2017No. of Offences
ARDEE11 
ARKLOW16144
ATHLONE41 
ATHY241
BALLINA4201
BEAL AN MHUIRTHEAD2  
BALLINASLOE27 
BALLAGHADERREEN22 
BALLYSHANNON111
BANTRY74 
BRAY87 
BUNCRANA9  
CAHIRCIVEEN22 
CARLOW1418 
CASHEL7101
CAVAN1914 
CASTLEBAR9113
CLIFDEN43 
CLONMEL981
CLONAKILTY23 
CORK CITY1251128
CARRICK ON SHANNON881
CARRICKMACROSS 1 
CARNDONAGH34 
CARRICK ON SUIR52 
CASTLEREA 1 
AN DAINGEAN951
DUBLIN METROPOLITAN DISTRICT21623230
DUNGARVAN1311 
DONEGAL131
DROGHEDA1161
DOIRE AN FHEICH23 
DUNDALK74 
AN CLOCHAN LIATH51 
ENNIS1114 
AN FAL CARRACH 1 
FERMOY129 
GALWAY20184
NA GLEANNTA21 
GORT441
GOREY58 
KENMARE22 
KILCOCK107 
KILKENNY10112
KILLORGLIN11 
KILRUSH21 
KILLARNEY681
LETTERKENNY24265
LIMERICK42575
LISTOWEL911 
LONGFORD13162
LOUGHREA992
MACROOM23 
MALLOW1316 
MANORHAMILTON1  
MIDLETON1814 
MEATH 17 
MONAGHAN69 
MULLINGAR12152
NAAS18231
NENAGH95 
NEWCASTLE WEST1181
NAVAN193 
PORTLAOISE15233
ROSCOMMON32 
SKIBBEREEN21 
SLIGO892
THURLES1010 
TIPPERARY37 
TRALEE28171
TRIM41 
TUAM86 
TUBBERCURRY3 1
TULLAMORE106 
VIRGINIA172
WEXFORD13113
WICKLOW54 
WESTPORT 3 
WATERFORD CITY22203
YOUGHAL351
Total
958
972
96

Garda Data

 90. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of vehicles seized by gardaí and disposed of for each of the years 2014 to 2016, inclusive, and to date in 2017, in tabular form; the amount of revenue generated each year through the sale of those vehicles; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15096/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the statistics requested by the Deputy and I will contact the Deputy directly upon receipt of the relevant information.

Magdalen Laundries

 91. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to a proposed development (details supplied) at the site of the former Magdalen laundry operated by the Religious Sisters of Charity at Donnybrook and the lack of consultation with survivor groups regarding this development; if she will intervene to ensure that adequate consultation takes place in view of recommendations of Mr. Justice Quirke regarding consultation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15154/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As I indicated in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 90 on 22 February, 2017, an Inter-Departmental Committee was set up in 2011 to establish the facts of the State's involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. It was chaired by then Senator Martin McAleese and it is commonly referred to as the McAleese report. The material in the Report relates to 10 different institutions which were run by 4 different Orders of nuns over a period of 70 years.

Chapter 3 of the McAleese Report gives the history of the Donnybrook Magdalene Laundry. The sisters of Charity took over the Donnybrook Laundry in 1833. It was re-located to Donnybrook Castle in 1837 and was re-named St. Mary Magdalen's Asylum. In 1992 the premises was sold to a private company which operated a commercial laundry there until 2006. This former Magdalen Laundry building at Donnybrook was never in State ownership and I have no authority to give instructions as to its future development or in relation to any consultation process to be followed. Planning permission for any development on the site is a matter for the relevant planning authority. I should also point out that Justice Quirke made no recommendation in relation to the former Donnybrook Magdalen Laundry.

Garda Investigations

 92. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan Information on Jim O'Callaghan Zoom on Jim O'Callaghan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the status of a Garda investigation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15160/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy may be aware, the Garda Commissioner requested the Serious Crime Review Team (SCRT) to examine the case in question, as a matter of priority, ensuring that all avenues of enquiry are fully explored and addressed. The Deputy will appreciate that the management of particular Garda investigations are matters in the first instance for the Garda authorities and I have no direct role in this regard. In this context it is not open to me to set a particular timeline for the work which the SCRT is undertaking.

However, I am advised by the Garda authorities that, as part of its work, the SCRT is reviewing the information collected by An Garda Síochána in relation to the case over the last 40 years and has interviewed a number of persons and examined and surveyed a number of places. I am further advised that at the conclusion of each review undertaken by the SCRT a substantive report is provided to assist in the consideration of opportunities for further investigation.

I expect to receive a further update on the case from the Garda authorities after the SCRT completes its examination.

Insurance Costs

 93. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the cost of insurance under different insurance headings such as public liability, buildings cover, employer liability and so on for her Department and each body under its aegis; the name of the insurance provider for each year since 2010, in tabular form; the number of current outstanding insurance claims against her Department or the body under its aegis; the estimated cost of those claims if available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15184/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department and most of the bodies under the aegis of my Department operate under State Indemnity, a self-insurance model set out in the Public Financial Procedures whereby the State bears the financial risk associated with the cost of claims.

The State Claims Agency currently manages claims and risks on behalf of many State Authorities, including my Department's claims.

  The only insurance taken out directly by the Department is travel insurance underwritten by Ace European Group Ltd., sourced as a central framework by the Office of Government Procurement for use by public bodies, at a cost of €23,231 per annum.

  The position in relation to insurance policies taken out by bodies under my Department's aegis is outlined in the following table.

Body/AgencyType of InsurancePeriod covered CostInsurer
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionProfessional Indemnity Insurance01/12/2014-30/11/2015€24,937.50AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionDirectors and Officers Liability Insurance19/12/2014-18/12/2015€660AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionCombined Traders Insurance19/12/2014-18/12/2015€5,074.52Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionProfessional Indemnity Insurance01/12/2015-30/11/2016€25,531.25AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionDirectors and Officers Liability Insurance19/12/2015-18/12/2016€660.00AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionCombined Traders Insurance19/12/2015-18/12/2016€7,676.94Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionProfessional Indemnity Insurance01/12/2016-30/11/2017€19,350.00AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionDirectors and Officers Liability Insurance19/12/2016-18/12/2017€660.00AIG Europe Ltd
Irish Human Rights and Equality CommissionCharity Combined Insurance19/12/2016-18/12/2017€8,131.55Hiscox Insurance Company Ltd
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2010€66,785Hiscox, RSA, Chartis, ACE
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2011€67,660Hiscox, RSA, Chartis, ACE
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2012€66,626Hiscox, RSA, Chartis, ACE, Zurich
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2013€66,356Hiscox, RSA, AIG, ACE, Zurich
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2014€59,529Hiscox, RSA, AIG, ACE, FBD
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2015€59,372Hiscox, RSA, AIG, ACE, FBD
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2016€53,900Hiscox, RSA, AIG, ACE, Axa
Ordinance Survey IrelandProperty, Computer, Employers Liability, Public Liability, Professional Indemnity (Combined)2017€52,647Hiscox, RSA, AIG, ACE, Axa
Charities Regulatory AuthorityProperty2016€373.65Marsh Insurance
Charities Regulatory AuthorityProperty2017€822.15OPW
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2010€3820.89Marsh Ireland
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2011€7069.68Unknown
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2012€6832.58Unknown
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2013€8542.98Chartis Europe Ireland
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2013€1026.84Willis Insurance
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2014€5516.98Willis Insurance
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2015€6069.52Willis Insurance
Garda Síochána Ombudsman CommissionBuildings2016€6252.08Willis Insurance
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2010€7308.44Travelers
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2011€6899Ecclesiastical
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2012€4528.96Ecclesiastical
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2013€4289.33RSA
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2014€6209.32RSA
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability

(Combined)
2015€7500RSA
National Disability AuthorityPublic Liability, Buildings, Employer Liability(Combined)2016€7950.80RSA

Immigration Status

 94. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the status of an application for a statement of non-acquisition of Irish citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15301/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that a Statement of Non-Acquisition of Irish citizenship issued to the person referred to by the Deputy on 22 March 2017.

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.

Court Accommodation Provision

 95. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to allow monthly Killorglin court services to take place at Kerry County Council buildings, Library Place, Killorglin, County Kerry, while refurbishment works take place at the current courthouse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15310/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that, following professional inspections, immediate health and safety issues in relation to Killorglin Courthouse were highlighted and therefore court hearings could not continue there in the short term. The necessary work include a full rewiring of the building, the installation of emergency lighting and fire alarms, as well as repairs to the raised floor area in the courtroom. In addition consideration needs to be given to the extent and cost of any further works required to bring the courthouse up to modern standards.

The Courts Service has advised that this is a recent issue and that, in the short term, sittings are being moved to Cahersiveen. This will allow for court hearings to continue and thus avoid creating a backlog of cases. Currently the Courts Service has no plans to commence court sittings in the County Council buildings, Library Place, Killorglin. The Courts Service intends to consult with local court users as to the medium/long term plan for Killorglin Courthouse and its business, including consideration of available alternative venues. It is expected that these consultations will commence in the near future.

Irish Prison Service

 96. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the reason no action was taken on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15317/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the matter referred to by the Deputy relates to the circumstances surrounding the release of a prisoner from Mountjoy Prison on 25 May 2010 and subsequent investigation.

At the time of receipt of the report from an external investigator in late 2013, civil proceedings against the State had been initiated by the prisoner concerned arising from events of May 2010. These proceedings have now concluded.

As the inquiry was an internal operational matter, it was never envisaged that the report would be published or furnished to parties to the inquiry. However, arrangements are in train to notify the relevant parties of the conclusion of the operational inquiry.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

 97. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the remaining steps to be taken and the timeframe envisaged to allow for Irish ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15380/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s strong commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. This Government remains committed to ratification of the Convention.

It is essential that the State is in a position to meet the obligations that it assumes under the terms of an international agreement from the moment of its entry into force for Ireland. Before the State can ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, enactment of new legislation and amendment of existing legislation is required to ensure obligations will be met upon entry into force for Ireland. Ratification of a Convention before we have amended domestic legislation that contradicts it makes no sense and does nothing to ensure compliance or to protect the people for whose benefit the Convention exists. The previous Government published a Roadmap in October 2015, which sets out the legislative measures needed to meet those requirements, along with declarations and reservations to be entered by Ireland on ratification.

Considerable progress has already been made to overcome the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland's ratification of the Convention. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on 30 December 2015 and is a comprehensive reform of the law on decision-making capacity. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 has reformed Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 to facilitate the full participation in family life of persons with intellectual disabilities and the full expression of their human rights.

The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 was published immediately prior to Christmas and commenced Second Stage on 31 January 2017. The primary purpose of the Bill is to address the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Work is ongoing on all the other issues set out in the previous Government’s Roadmap for Ratification published in October 2015 and these will be progressed as Committee Stage amendments. The Bill will be progressed to enactment at an early date to facilitate ratification of the UN Convention as soon as possible.

The precise timing of ratification now depends on how long it will take for this Bill to progress through the enactment process and on issues in relation to commencement both of Deprivation of Liberty provisions, which will be included in the Bill at Committee Stage, and of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

Primary Medical Certificates Eligibility

 98. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his plans to review the criteria required for a primary medical certificate to include those with degenerative illnesses, such as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15041/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a fuel grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme, an applicant must have a permanent and severe physical disability within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations (S.I. 353 of 1994) and satisfy one of the six qualifying criteria outlined in the Regulations. The Senior Medical Officer for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. A successful applicant is provided with a Primary Medical Certificate, which is required under the Regulations to claim the reliefs provided for in the Regulations. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the Senior Medical Officer to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual. The Regulations mandate that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions to ensure the integrity of its clinical determinations. After six months a citizen can reapply if there is a deterioration in their condition.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be permanently and severely disabled within the terms of the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994 and satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the fuel grant, the Scheme represented a cost of €65.1 million in 2016.  This figure does not include the revenue foregone to the Local Government Fund in the respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme. 

I recognise the important role that the Scheme plays in expanding the mobility of citizens with disabilities. I have managed to maintain the relief at current levels throughout the crisis despite the requirement for significant fiscal consolidation.  From time to time I receive respresentations from individuals who feel they would benefit from the Scheme but do not qualify under the six criteria. While I have sympathy for these cases, given the scope and scale of the Scheme, I have no plans to expand the medical criteria beyond the six currently provided for in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994.

NAMA Property Sales

 99. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he has read the Committee of Public Accounts report into Project Eagle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15505/17]

 138. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he has read the Committee of Public Accounts report into the sale of Project Eagle; his views on whether it was procedurally inappropriate for him to have met a company (details supplied) 24 hours before the loan sale deadline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15504/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 138 together.

  The Deputy will be aware that I and my Department refute absolutely any claims that I and my officials acted inappropriately, procedurally or otherwise, in meeting with Cerberus in March 2014.

  I would refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question 115 of 16 February 2016 where I outlined my views on the appropriateness of these meetings.  This response is available on the Oireachtas website and my position is unchanged following the publication of the PAC report on the sale of Project Eagle.

  Having read the report, I note that a letter I sent to the PAC Chairman on 15 February 2017 is included as appendix 7. The Deputy, as a member of the PAC, will be aware that this letter was written regarding draft conclusions contained in a Committee Working Paper which had been leaked to the media.

  It is disappointing that those unjustified and unfounded views about me and my officials contained in the PAC's draft working paper have made their way into the Committee's final report. I note that this conclusion was included despite the clear disagreement of some of the PAC members as highlighted in Appendix 6 of the report.

  I also note that the Dáil will debate the PAC report on 29th March, where I look forward to expressing my views further.

NAMA Property Sales

 100. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will proceed with establishing a commission of investigation into the sale of Project Eagle by NAMA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15506/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Deputy will be aware that Statements on the Establishment of Commission of Investigation into NAMA were taken in this House on Wednesday, 1 February 2017. As indicated on that occasion, the sensible course of action was to wait for the publication and consideration of the Public Accounts Committee's ("PAC") report before deciding on next steps. 

The Deputy will be also aware that, on 15 September 2016, the Taoiseach met party leaders to hear their views on the potential establishment and possible terms of reference of a Commission of Investigation.  The Taoiseach subsequently received a number of submissions on the matter.  The Taoiseach met party leaders again on 4 October 2016 and agreed in principle that the Government would establish a Commission of Investigation under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.

I am advised that the party leaders acknowledged that there would be limitations on any Commission's work given the location of potential witnesses and documentation outside the jurisdiction and in light of ongoing criminal investigations and that any potential terms of reference would need to recognise this fact.

The PAC Report is scheduled to be discussed in the Dáil on 29th March.  Following that discussion, we will have an opportunity to evaluate potential next steps.

Financial Services Ombudsman

 101. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of complaints made to the Financial Services Ombudsman since 2008; the number of complaints that were upheld; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14805/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Financial Services Ombudsman has provided me with the following data:

200820092010201120122013201420152016
Number of complaints received594776197230728781357722447748724513
Findings Upheld417915442361302202147140101
  This information is available in Annual Reports and Annual Reviews on the Financial Services Ombudsman's website at https://financialombudsman.ie/publications/.   (The 2016 figures are due to be published shortly.) It should be noted that other complaints may be resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant without a formal finding upholding the complaint.

Tax Yield

 102. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated amount of tax that would be raised by a tax on second and subsequent homes levied at €400 per property. [14868/17]

 108. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated net cost to the Exchequer of abolishing the local property tax. [14874/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 108 together.

In regards to Question No. 108, I am advised by Revenue that the Local Property Tax (LPT) is forecast to collect €460 million in 2017. These receipts would be lost if LPT was abolished. It should be borne in mind that under the fiscal rules of the preventive arm of the Stability and Growth Pact, this policy choice would use up available fiscal space unless offset by either discretionary revenue increases or expenditure reductions elsewhere.

In regards to Question 102, I am advised by Revenue the estimated amount that would be raised by a tax on second and subsequent homes levied at €400 per property would be €104 million. This is in addition to yield currently collected through LPT.  The additional yield is based on a €400 charge levied on all residential properties indicated as non-principal primary residencies in Local Property Tax returns.

Pensions Data

 103. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated savings that would be made by reducing the maximum tax relief available on private pension contributions to 20%, 22%, 25%, 28%, 30%, 32% and 35% respectively. [14869/17]

 104. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated amount of revenue that would be generated from the reduction of pension fund allowable for tax purposes on retirement, from €1.1 million to €1.3 million, €1.5 million, €1.7 million and €2 million respectively. [14870/17]

 105. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated amount of revenue that would be raised by reducing the earnings cap for pension contributions from €115,000 to €60,000, €65,000 and €70,000 respectively. [14871/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 to 105, inclusive, together.

  In relation to Questions 103 and 105, I am advised by Revenue that a post-Budget 2017 Ready Reckoner is available on the Revenue Statistics webpage at the link: http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/statistics/index.html. Page 11 of this Ready Reckoner shows estimated cost or yield from changing either (i) the maximum tax relief available on private pension contributions or (ii) the ceiling on the annual earnings limit for determining maximum allowable contributions for pension purposes. While not all of the scenarios requested by the Deputy are shown in the Ready Reckoner, the others can be calculated on a straight-line or pro-rata basis from the information provided.

  In relation to Question 104, the Standard Fund Threshold is the maximum allowable pension fund on retirement for tax purposes which was introduced in Finance Act 2006 to prevent over-funding of pensions through tax-relieved arrangements.  Information on the numbers and values of individual pension funds or on individual accrued benefits in pension schemes are not generally required to be supplied to Revenue.  Therefore there is no readily available underlying data or methodology on which to base reliable estimates of any possible yield which might be realised from the reduction in the Standard Fund Threshold outlined.


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