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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 184-92
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Wards of Court
 Header Item Charitable Donations Administration
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Criminal Prosecutions Data
 Header Item Criminal Assets Bureau
 Header Item Alcohol Sales
 Header Item Bench Warrants
 Header Item Criminal Prosecutions Data

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 784 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 184-92

Garda Investigations

 184. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has received the Garda Commissioners report regarding incidences that occurred at a concert in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, on 8 July 2012; if so, if he will outline the recommendations made in the report; the steps being taken to mitigate against the reoccurrence of such incidents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53172/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter On 2 August this year I received a report from the Garda Commissioner on the review carried out by An Garda Síochána arising from the incidents which took place at the concert in the Phoenix Park on Saturday 7 July. The full review contains extensive operational details and, in keeping with normal practice in these matters, it would not be appropriate to put these into the public domain. However, a covering letter from the Commissioner set out conclusions and lessons to be learned from the review as well as proposed responses and I published that letter at the time. I welcomed the Commissioner's frank and specific conclusions as to the lessons to be learned for the future planning and management of such events, as well as the commitment of An Garda Síochána to do everything within its power, and to work with all the parties involved, to ensure that there is no repetition of the type of incidents which took place at the Phoenix Park concert.

In this regard I understand that a number of de-briefing meetings have taken place between An Garda Síochána and the event organisers and that these meetings are ongoing with all parties continuing to work together to address the issues identified. In particular, and arising from the review, a series of measures were put in place involving all the parties concerned which helped to ensure that the subsequent concerts held at Marlay Park took place without the difficulties experienced at the Phoenix Park.

Wards of Court

 185. 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 his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the families of those whose funds are administered to by the office of wards of court in the Courts Service regarding the types of investments being made; if he has considered establishing an insurance scheme to protect these funds; if he has considered this issue in the context of the drafting of the Mental Capacity Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53184/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Jurisdiction in Wards of Court matters is vested in the High Court. The Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and, therefore, it is not open to me as Minister to comment in any way. Section 4(3) of the Courts Service Act 1998 provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which are specified in section 5 and includes the management of the Courts. Court funds which are held for the benefit of Wards of Court are private funds under the control of the Courts Service which, through its offices in the High, Circuit and District Courts, has responsibility for the management and investment of funds in court.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that court funds, which amounted to approximately €1.188 billion at 30 September 2012 are managed in a fiduciary capacity by the Courts Service on behalf of more than 18,000 beneficiaries. Approximately 2,500 of these are wards of court with funds in the amount of €800 million in value. Other beneficiaries include minors and various categories of litigant. The Deputy will appreciate the amount of damages awarded or approved by the courts in any case of a ward of court, cannot be guaranteed to meet the needs of the ward for their lifetime. Many factors will determine the extent to which the sum awarded will be sufficient, including expenditure incurred, inflation and investment performance. The Courts Service is not responsible for ensuring that the amount awarded in any case is sufficient to maintain an individual for their lifetime.

  The Courts Service has assured me that it operates a conservative investment policy and seeks to invest all funds in the best interests of each beneficiary. The funds are invested in line with the provisions of the Trustee (Authorised Investments) Act, 1958 and subsequent orders and are regulated by the Financial Regulator. I am informed that the beneficiaries benefit from the investor protection structure inherent in such funds. The investment arrangements for all court funds operate under a structured framework. The Investment Committee of the Courts Service has an advisory role and its main function is to devise investment policy for court funds, oversee the recommendations received from its investment advisors, and to ensure compliance with best practice in the management of court funds. It monitors the investment arrangements of court funds on a regular basis. The Committee comprises members of the judiciary, representatives from the Courts Service and independent members. The Committee is chaired by the President of the High Court and is also supported by external investment advisors. The Courts Service also produces annual financial statements and is subject to both internal and external audit. The audited financial statements are published each year and forwarded to me and to the Minister for Finance in accordance with the Superior Court Rules and published on the Courts Service website at www.courts.ie. The investment performance since the current investment strategies were established in December 2003 are set out in the following table which shows both the cumulative investment performance of the funds (net of fees) and the performance for the year to 30 September 2012.

Portfolio Return

(Net of Fees)
Cash Cash Plus Bond Plus Balanced Growth
Cumulative performance since inception to 30/09/2012 11.40 % 19.66% 34.04% 44.58% 37.60%*
12 months to 30/09/2012 0.29% 0.29% 0.30% 9.62% N/A*
      

    Note: Cash Fund commenced 21 June 2006

    Note: Following a review of the composition asset mix of all strategies, the Growth Fund was allocated the identical asset mix as the Balanced Fund. It was therefore deemed appropriate to move all the beneficiaries in the Growth Fund to the Balanced Fund in order to ascertain a lower management fee scale structure. This transition was completed on 7 September 2011.

      Finally, work is ongoing in my Department on the Mental Capacity Bill which proposes replacement of the Wards of Courts system with a modern statutory framework to support persons with impaired decision-making ability. The enactment of new legislation is one of the core elements of the remaining work to be completed to enable ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The matters raised by the Deputy are being considered in the context of the Bill.

    Charitable Donations Administration

     186. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the procedure for making a charitable donation of a property to an organisation here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53189/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland are mandated under the Charities Acts, 1961 and 1973 to provide various services to trustees of charities. The Office of the Commissioners falls under the aegis of the Department of Justice and Equality. It is the view of the Office of the Commissioners that the donation of a property to a charity is a disposal of property in the normal sense of a disposal. As such, the procedure involved is the normal legal procedure to ensure that the title to the property passes from the donor to the donee. The fact that the donee is a charity does not alter that procedure.

    Crime Data

     187. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline the increase and or decrease in crime in County Kildare from the years 2007 to 2011; the total number and category of crimes committed during that period; the number of convictions on foot of these crimes; the number pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53207/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

    Criminal Prosecutions Data

     188. 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 if he will detail in tabular form the total number of prosecutions, successful prosecutions, fines and custodial sentences given as a result of prosecutions brought by the Director of Public Prosecutions against persons arising from alleged criminal offences committed under any of the Companies Acts between 2000 and 2012 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53214/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

      I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

    Criminal Assets Bureau

     189. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of full time qualified solicitors, barristers and cccountants currently working in the Criminal Assets Bureau; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53227/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

    I have however been informed by the Garda Commissioner that there is one full time qualified Solicitor attached to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) who holds the statutory position of Bureau Legal Officer pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996. In addition, the Chief State Solicitors’ office currently assigns one Solicitor and two Legal Executives on a full time basis to the Criminal Assets Bureau to provide the necessary legal support services to the Bureau.

    While there is no full time qualified Barrister working in CAB, the Bureau, through the Office of the Chief State Solicitors, engages Barristers from time to time to support the Bureau’s statutory remit. There are three full time qualified accountants working in CAB.

    Alcohol Sales

     190. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of licensed premises forced to close due to serving alcohol to persons aged under 18 for the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53228/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

    Bench Warrants

     191. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of bench warrants currently outstanding in each Garda District of the Dublin Region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53229/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table shows the number of outstanding bench warrants by Garda District in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR). Figures provided are operational and liable to change and are correct as at 26 November 2012.

    Outstanding Bench Warrants by Garda District in the DMR

    Division District Bench Warrants
      Blackrock 93
    DMR Eastern Dun Laoghaire 596
      Bridewell 15,492
      Fitzgibbon Street 285
    DMR North Central Store Street 140
      Balbriggan 183
      Ballymun 175
      Coolock 545
    DMR Northern Raheny 82
      Donnybrook 28
      Kevin Street 142
    DMR South Central Pearse Street 101
      Crumlin 41
      Tallaght 1,186
    DMR Southern Terenure 57
      Blanchardstown 1,014
      Clondalkin 195
    DMR Western Lucan 249
    DMR Total   20,604


      There can be a multiplicity of reasons why warrants can take time to execute and, in some cases, they can prove ultimately unenforceable, as the subjects of the warrants will often take every step open to them to try to avoid arrest through moving from address to address, leaving the country and so on.

      Of its nature, the figure for outstanding warrants recorded by PULSE at any given time reflects an accumulation of old warrants which has arisen over the years. Warrants will continue to show on PULSE until such time as they are recorded as being finally disposed of and, as some of the warrants in question are outstanding for many years, I am concerned that the total figure for outstanding warrants as shown on PULSE may not be a reliable indicator of the number of 'live' warrants which are enforceable which are on hand.

      In these circumstances, in July of this year I asked the Garda Commissioner to consider whether there may be a better way of maintaining statistics which gives a more realistic indication in relation to any backlog of warrants that arises. At the same time I also asked him to report to me again within six months on the situation in relation to unexecuted warrants and indicated that if he has any recommendations in relation to legislative or administrative action open to me as Minister which would assist in this area I will, of course, consider them.

      While genuine difficulties can arise where it does not prove possible to enforce a warrant, it is obviously important that systems are in place to ensure that warrants are enforced as quickly as possible. In this regard, I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána give priority to the execution of warrants in respect of serious crime and will continue to do so.

      I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner that at present there is an Inspector in each Garda District in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and each Division outside the DMR tasked with managing the execution of warrants, and other issues relating to them. In addition, specific members of the Force are tasked with their execution. An Garda Síochána continually liaises with other agencies, including Government Departments, to locate individuals sought on warrant. This has resulted in the provision of addresses, other than those provided on the warrants, for many persons sought. In particular, Garda warrants personnel regularly liaise with the Irish Prison Service and the Courts Service to ensure the timely exchange of relevant information regarding persons sought for the service of warrants.

      I am also advised that there is a warrants working group in place which facilitates liaison between the various stakeholders, including the Courts Service and the Prison Service and which works to identify, address and prevent difficulties in the warrants process. The work of the group is ongoing and relevant recommendations for the improvement of systems are being implemented on an ongoing basis. The Garda Commissioner has assured me that both he and his senior management team are closely monitoring the situation with a view to ensuring that warrants are executed as expeditiously as possible.

    Criminal Prosecutions Data

     192. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of persons arrested and charged with drink driving in the Dublin region for the years 2011 and to date in 2012; the number of successful convictions obtained to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53230/12]

    Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.


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