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McEntee, Helen

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Refugee Resettlement Programme

Was asked: if a fairer share of refugees from the Moria camp, Lesbos, Greece, will be accepted here; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Ireland strongly supports the principle of solidarity and recognises that assistance is required for Member States who face a disproportionate number of applicants and where incidences such as that...More Button

Last week, I announced an additional commitment under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) to welcome up to 50 people in family groups from Greece following the recent fire that almost c...More Button

The families who will arrive from Greece have already been granted an international protection status by the Greek authorities. I will grant them ‘programme refugee’ status immediately upon their...More Button

My colleague, Minister O'Gorman, has also committed to relocating four unaccompanied minors from Greece into the care of Tusla.  Minister O'Gorman and his officials are working with Tusla to acce...More Button

The Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) was established in 2015 in response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe. Under this programme, the Government committed to accepti...More Button

To date, more than 3,350 people have arrived in the State under this first phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).  Most of the remaining people will arrive under the Irish Refuge...More Button

Last December, a second phase of the IRPP was announced giving a commitment to welcome a further 2,900 refugees between this year and 2023, through a combination of resettlement and community spo...More Button

Ireland can only accept the number of people that we are able to accommodate and support effectively. We will of course consider additional numbers as part of the EU response when we can provide ...More Button

Maternity Leave

Was asked: if she will commit to increasing maternity leave and benefit to nine weeks in acknowledgement of the difficult situation parents of new babies are in as a result of the public health emergency; the...More Button

As the law now stands, a mother is entitled to paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, and up to a further 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Any amendment to the legislation governing the provision of mat...More Button

Direct Provision System

Was asked: the numbers of persons in the direct provision system for less than six and between six and 12 months; the numbers in excess of one, two, three, four, five, six and seven years, respectively; the c...More Button

As of 11 October 2020, a total of 7,014 people are recorded by my Department as being resident in accommodation provided by the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), of whom 1,887 ...More Button

Was asked: her plans to phase out the reliance on direct provision centres as a method of housing asylum seekers especially in view of the overcrowded conditions of centres increasing the likelihood of Covid-...More Button

The Programme for Government commits to ending the current system of Direct Provision within the lifetime of the Government and replacing it with a new international protection accommodation policy...More Button

Visa Applications

Was asked: if her Department will issue a visa (details supplied).More Button

The person concerned originally applied for a Short Stay, category “C”, visa on 25 October 2019. This visa was refused on 18 November 2019, and was subsequently granted on appeal on 15 April 2020. More Button

As part of the combined efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure customer safety, the Immigration Service of my Department took the decision to temporarily cease issuing visas from 2...More Button

It appears that the applicant's circumstances have changed and, based on the information available to the Immigration Service, a short stay, category “C” visa is no longer appropriate. The applic...More Button

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the ISD of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically establi...More Button

Was asked: if automatic renewals of visas for Venezuelans whose passports expired will be provided, similar to what is currently provided in the UK; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

At various times, nationalities will have difficulties renewing or obtaining passports due to conflict, etc. The Immigration Service of my Department takes this into account when considering the re...More Button

Applicants from Venezuela should utilise the online registration renewal system. My Department is aware of the current difficulties with procuring passports from Venezuela and an applicant should...More Button

On 18 September 2020, I announced that immigration and international protection permissions due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021, are automatically renewed to the 20 Januar...More Button

Was asked: if a decision on an appeal application for a long stay visa will be expedited for a person (details supplied).More Button

Appeals are processed in the order in which they are received in order to be fair to all applicants. While every effort is made to process appeals received as soon as possible, processing times wil...More Button

Was asked: the processing times for visa appeals.More Button

All visa appeals are processed in chronological order, based on date order of receipt. While every effort is made to process appeals as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to...More Button

Was asked: the status of a visa application for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The "Join Family" visa application referred to by the Deputy was submitted to the Dar-es-Salaam Visa Office on 10 March 2020, for processing in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Policy ...More Button

The Policy Document contains a stated business target that visa applications to join Irish citizen family members should be dealt with within six months of receipt of application. However, this ...More Button

It is not possible to give a definitive date as to when these applications will be finalised. All applications are processed in chronological order, based on date order of receipt. While every ef...More Button

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way the Immigration Service of my Department conducts its business. In line with public health advice, the Immigration Service has imple...More Button

Applicants can e-mail any queries directly to visamail@justice.ie and may also keep up to date on Visa applications at: www.inis.gov.ie/en/inis/pages/visa%20decisions.More Button

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for th...More Button

Parental Leave

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 587 of 6 October 2020, her views on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 provides for two weeks of parent’s leave and benefit for all new parents in employment or self-employment in respect of children born or placed for adoption...More Button

Victim Support Services

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the Changing Places Ireland initiative (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The objective of Changing Places Ireland to introduce fully accessible toilets in public places such as shopping centres, libraries and sporting arenas across the country is important and requires ...More Button

Citizenship Applications

Was asked: the number of citizenship applications granted in 2019 and to date in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if there has been a delay in the processing of citizenship applications due to the Covid-19 pandemic; if so, the size of the application backlog; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if she has considered moving citizenship ceremonies online due to the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 376 to 378, inclusive, together.

  The number of citizenship applications granted in 2019 and to date in 2020 is set out in the table. Certifica...More Button

Was asked: the status of an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied).More Button

The application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, continues to be processed.

  The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisat...More Button

Was asked: the number of persons waiting on results from citizenship applications.More Button

The processing of citizenship applications has had a number of challenges over the past 12 months. A legal challenge taken in the High Court last year by an applicant who was refused a certificate...More Button

Currently, there are approximately 21,000 citizenship applications on hand, at various stages of processing within the system, ranging from those just received by my Department to those where a d...More Button

A series of measures have been approved to address this caseload over the coming period. As part of these measures I expect to bring clarity to the situation of those applicants awaiting an invi...More Button

Was asked: the number of students waiting on results from citizenship applications.More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is not compiled in a manner to allow for the identification of applications for naturalisation made by students, including from those who have received resul...More Button

Was asked: the steps that can be taken by a person (details supplied) due to their circumstances.More Button

The application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, continues to be processed. The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department corres...More Button

Crime Data

Was asked: the number of knife crime convictions in each of the years from 2015 to 2019 and to date in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of knife seizures by An Garda Síochána in each of the years from 2005 to 2019, including the age range of those holding the knives, by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a sta...More Button

Was asked: the number of stabbing assaults in each of the years from 2005 to 2019, including the age range of perpetrators, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: her plans to tackle the issues of knife crime and knife holding among teenagers and young persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 379 to 382, inclusive, together.

  I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána are currently operating an Assaults in Public Reduction Strateg...More Button

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

Was asked: the number of CCTV schemes that have been approved for funding since the scheme commenced; the way in which many of these schemes have been approved in 2020; if all local authorities are now signed...More Button

As the Deputy may be aware, community-based CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006. This legal framework requires that any prop...More Button

Immigration Status

Was asked: if she will provide details of the procedure to be followed by a person (details supplied) to regularise his status; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person referred to was notified by letter dated 24 February 2020, from the Immigration Service of my Department, that they were granted permission to remain on a Stamp 4 basis, for one year eff...More Button

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for th...More Button

Probate Applications

Was asked: the last time a personal application was accepted by the Probate Office; the current post-Covid-19 wait time for personal applications; if personal application interviews are currently being conduc...More Button

The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service ...More Button

Deportation Orders

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The person concerned is the subject of a transfer decision to the United Kingdom by the International Protection Office (IPO) of my Department, under the EU Dublin III Regulation, which determines ...More Button

Garda Operations

Was asked: if she will provide extra funding to An Garda Síochána to increase overtime and reinitiate the public order units that were available during the acute phase of the pandemic during April and May 202...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, the Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer of An Garda Síochána and is responsible for the Garda budget including the Garda Overtime Budget. In addition, under Section...More Button

There is ongoing engagement with the Garda authorities in terms of the expenditure arising as a consequence of the increased mobilisation of Garda resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, i...More Button

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is no change to the capacity of the National Public Order Unit and sufficient personnel are trained in each Region to meet operational demands. E...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, An Garda Síochána recommenced Operation Fanacht from midnight on 6th October 2020 as a nationwide policing operation focused on supporting public compliance with the ...More Button

In support of this announcement there will be high visibility patrolling by Garda members across the country with the focus of this activity on continuing to encourage people to adhere to nationa...More Button

Courts Service

Was asked: the waiting times for hearings of family law issues (details supplied) in each of the District Courts, in tabular form; the District Courts not taking new applications for hearings of family law is...More Button

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

  How...More Button

Was asked: the family law hearings (details supplied) heard by each District Court from 20 March 2020 to the latest available date, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My officials have requested information from the Courts Service and I will revert with a reply to the Deputy as soon as it is received.More Button

Was asked: the measures being taken to ensure that court facilities are appropriately structured to hear family law cases separate to other cases; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

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 inde...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Dublin County Registrar is not sitting for taxation of costs hearings; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. More Button

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the taxation of costs hearings was the first body of adjourned work to b...More Button

A statement issued by the President of the Circuit Court on 8th May stated that all civil hearings which were adjourned as a result of the pandemic would be given a date by the office on a time-s...More Button

The Dublin County Registrar put a mechanism in place to deal with all adjourned matters including the listing and hearing of taxation of costs applications. Notice of this mechanism was published...More Button

Was asked: if her attention has been drawn to the significant backlog of applications to the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators of the High Court; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Legal Cost Adjudicators are independent office holders attached to the High Court.More Button

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquires made and the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator (OLCA) has informed me that, assuming all formalities have been completed, the ...More Button

Following the restrictions imposed in mid March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Legal Costs Adjudicators worked remotely and no physical adjudication hearings were held. The main OCLA o...More Button

Measure were taken to adapt the offices and adjudication hearing room to allow for safe resumption of physical hearings, in line with the Government roadmap. A return to work protocol was put in ...More Button

Resumption of physical hearings with limited capacity and staggered hearing times were held. All outstanding cases have now been transferred into the Chief Legal Costs Adjudicators list and these...More Button

The appointment of a third Legal Costs Adjudicator, due to take office on 19th of October 2020, is expected to assist in the process of disposing of cases and improving waiting times.More Button

Garda Data

Was asked: the number of full-time gardaí attached to Dundrum Garda sstation, Dublin 14; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of full-time gardaí attached to Stepaside Garda station, Dublin 18; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of full-time gardaí attached to Blackrock Garda station, County Dublin; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the number of full-time gardaí attached to Rathfarnham Garda station, Dublin 16; the number of parking spaces at the station; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 391 to 394, inclusive, together.

  The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síoc...More Button

Youth Justice Strategy

Was asked: her plans to make changes to the youth diversion programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy may be aware, Part 4 of the Children Act 2001 (as amended) provides the statutory basis for the Garda Diversion Programme. The intention is to divert children and young people who hav...More Button

The operation of the programme includes informal and formal Garda warnings, delivered in the presence of parents or guardians, as well as provision for supervision by a Garda Juvenile Liaison Off...More Button

Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) are a fundamental support to the operation of the statutory Garda Diversion Programme and provide a vital ingredient in enhancing community policing partner...More Button

Currently there are some 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects. The intention is to further develop the service so that it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it, through...More Button

Further, the projects are being developed to provide family support to the parents of young people participating in the projects and are undertaking early intervention and preventative work. The ...More Button

The Department is supporting ongoing development of practice in GYDPs through the Action Research Project led by the University of Limerick. The Action Research Project works directly with front-...More Button

These issues are addressed in the draft Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2026, which is due to be published in Q4 2020.More Button

Domestic Violence Policy

Was asked: her plans to introduce paid leave for victims of domestic violence; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The Department of Justice is committed to combatting and addressing Domestic Abuse in all its forms, and coordinates the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, whic...More Button

Garda Vetting

Was asked: if there is a delay in the Garda vetting process.More Button

The Deputy will be aware that vetting applications are an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Neither I, as Minister, nor my Department have any role in the processing of individual vetting ...More Button

I would emphasise to the Deputy that the primary purpose of the employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. I...More Button

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda Vetting. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the eVetting s...More Button

All Garda vetting applications are processed on a first come, first serve basis in chronological order from date of receipt. This is with a view to observing equity and fairness in respect of al...More Button

In a number of instances, it is necessary to conduct enquiries with external Garda Stations and Agencies such as the Courts Service, Probation Service, Child and Family Agency, etc. These enquir...More Button

Individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the eVetting Tracking System, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing thei...More Button

Legislative Measures

Was asked: if she has included measures that will address the abusive practice of strategic lawsuits against public participation which increasingly threaten media freedom in the heads of a Bill in view that ...More Button

The Programme for Government commits to ‘review and reform defamation laws to ensure a balanced approach to the right to freedom of expression, the right to protection of good name and reputation, ...More Button

The review of the Defamation Act 2009 is currently being completed by my Department. The objective set for the defamation review is to balance the individual’s right to their good name and privac...More Button

I expect to receive the report of the review, with options for reform, in the coming weeks, with a view to bringing proposals for legislative change to Government for approval before the end of t...More Button

My Department is aware of the concerns that have been raised by a number of European and international NGOs concerned with the protection of press freedoms, regarding the possible abusive practic...More Button

This issue was not raised by the submissions to the defamation review, but it has nevertheless been included among the issues being considered by my officials, and I expect that it will be addres...More Button

Travel Documents

Was asked: if travel documents held by her Department will be returned to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Based on the information supplied, it has unfortunately not been possible to locate the application for the person referred to by the Deputy. If more information can be provided, my officials will ...More Button

Leave to Remain

Was asked: the reason for the delay in renewing an application to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will expedite the matter.More Button

On 18 September 2020, I announced that a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions has been granted to 20 January 2021. This applies to permissions that ar...More Button

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been spec...More Button

Departmental Communications

Was asked: if she has engaged with a third party company in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020, to conduct monitoring and-or provide reports on social media coverage of her Department across s...More Button

My Department did not engage any third party company in 2017, 2019 and 2020 to conduct monitoring of or provide reports on social media coverage across Twitter or Facebook.More Button

Covid-19 Pandemic

Was asked: the policy on the wearing of face masks by prison officers while on duty in prisons; if the policy is in line with national public health guidance; if compliance with the policy is monitored; and i...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, Covid-19 clearly provides unique challenges to congregated settings, including our prisons. Covid-19 in a prison setting would present significant challenges for priso...More Button

- Blocking the spread of Covid-19 into a prison setting;More Button

- Early detection of any possible case of Covid-19 in a prisoner or staff member; andMore Button

- Prevention of the spread of Covid-19, should a case be confirmed. More Button

A huge amount of work has been carried out by the Irish Prison Service in this regard, informed and guided by the advice received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and consi...More Button

I have been advised by the Irish Prison Service that from the onset of the pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidelines including the use of face masks were developed in line with Pub...More Button

There are a number of levels of PPE that apply within prisons and the PPE guidelines take account of physical distancing requirements and potential contact with a suspected or confirmed case of C...More Button

PPE is required where there may be contact with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19, contact with those in quarantine and when prisoners are escorted to court or hospital. The Irish Prison S...More Button

The Irish Prison Service has issued recommendations on the wearing of surgical masks by Prison Staff in certain circumstances and most recently determined that staff must wear surgical masks in a...More Button

These include some offices and control rooms where more than one officer is present and when sharing vehicles. I am further informed that there are a number of Standard Operating Procedures in pl...More Button

Registration of Wills

Was asked: her plans to develop a central register of wills; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The possible establishment of such a register has been suggested on a number of occasions, including in a number of Private Members Bills. Consultations with a number of stakeholders, including the...More Button

In the first instance, registration of a will would not guarantee its validity. For example, under Part VII of the Succession Act 1965, there are statutory requirements regarding the signing and...More Button

Secondly, a register could not guarantee or offer conclusive proof that a registered will was the last will of the testator because a new will could have been made by the testator at any time bef...More Button

Immigration Policy

Was asked: the processes open to a child not born in the European Economic Area that wishes to join their parent here and is over the age of 18; and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Detailed information on the circumstances in which a person, who is not a refugee, can seek to sponsor a non-EEA national family member to join and reside with them in the State is contained in the...More Button

Public Inquiries

Was asked: the date on which the final report by a judge of their scoping exercise into the death of a person (details supplied) will be published.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, a retired judge, Gerard Haughton, is conducting a scoping exercise into the tragic death of the person in question, whose case has been discussed in Dáil Éireann on a n...More Button

In his interim report, Judge Haughton states that he will not restrict or limit the family in their submissions to him or the nature and extent of the documentation they wish to furnish to him in...More Button

I am glad to note that the family are working with Judge Haughton. My Department is in regular contact with the judge and has assured him of any assistance he requires to complete his final repor...More Button

Judge Haughton has recently informed my Department of the reasons why he does not believe that he can finalise matters within the timescale referred to in his Interim Report, and has indicated th...More Button

Property Management Companies

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 590 of 6 October 2020, if all owners of a management company that pay service charges to the annual AGM of the company attend the AGM.More Button

The Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 was enacted with the primary purposes of reforming the law relating to the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and facilitating ...More Button

Section 17 of the Act imposes specific obligations on OMCs with regards to the holding of an AGM and the preparation of an annual report. OMCs must hold a meeting at least once a year to consider...More Button

Asylum Seekers

Was asked: if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.More Button

For reasons of maintaining full confidentiality, it is not my Department's practice to comment on whether an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State. An applicant...More Button

Legal Aid Service

Was asked: the reason for cuts to legal aid fees relating to persons in the international protection appeals process; and the impact same will have on waiting times for persons in the system.More Button

The International Protection Solicitors Panel, which is provided by the Legal Aid Board (LAB), plays an important role in providing legal assistance to people making an application for internationa...More Button

Solicitors on the Panel provide a range of legal services including assistance with the international protection questionnaire and interview and representation at the International Protection Ap...More Button

Last year, the former Minister for Justice and Equality approved changes to the terms and conditions of the Panel, including a restructuring of fees paid to solicitors. These changes were reques...More Button

The new terms and conditions will not result in delays in the provision of legal services and applicants will continue to receive the same high level of legal assistance. Waiting times for decisi...More Button

Detailed information on civil legal aid services and advice provided to international protection applicants can be found here: More Button

www.legalaidboard.ie/en/our-services/legal-aid-services/services-for-international-protection-applicants/. More Button