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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 721 to 743
 Header Item Pyrite Issues
 Header Item Water Supply
 Header Item Gender Balance Issues
 Header Item Disability Support Services Provision
 Header Item Road Traffic Accidents Data
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Northern Ireland Issues
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Numbers
 Header Item Garda Strength
 Header Item Leave to Remain
 Header Item Gambling Legislation
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Prisoner Transfers
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Review
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Legal Matters
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 788 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 124 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 721 to 743

Pyrite Issues

 721. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan noting that petrographic testing of underfloor fill in houses damaged by pyrite induced heave, has in general been completed in the UK testing costing up to 1,000 per house, if he will consider establishing facilities for such tests as part of the state laboratory facilities. [1967/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I am mindful of the need for cost effective testing to be available to homeowners, as indeed was the independent pyrite panel. In its report, the panel recommended the development of a testing and categorisation protocol which would be comprehensive but, importantly, would be cost effective. In asking the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) to develop this protocol, I advised it of the requirement for the protocol to be comprehensive and cost effective.

My Department understands that the State Laboratory’s testing facilities and equipment are quite different to those which would be required for the testing of stone but also understands that discussions have taken place between one of the stakeholders and a third level institution with a view to providing such facilities. I would welcome this development and hope that it would lead to the provision of cost effective testing facilities in Ireland.

Question No. 722 answered with Question No. 638.

Question No. 723 answered with Question No. 644.

Water Supply

 724. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will outline the most recent figures for unaccounted for water for each of the local authority administrative areas. [1970/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The most recent published figures for unaccounted for water for each of the local authority administrative areas are set out in the report 'Service Indicators in Local Authorities 2010'. The report was published by the Local Government Management Services Board and a copy is available in the Oireachtas Library.

Question No. 725 answered with Question No. 688.

Question No. 726 answered with Question No. 717.

Gender Balance Issues

 727. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if following the recent EU legislation aimed at improving gender balance on company boards in Europe, the Government has any proposals to encourage this initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57888/12]

 735. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to the fact that no Irish companies have committed to the draft EU Directive to raise the quota of women on company boards to 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020; if he intends to take action to encourage same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57835/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 727 and 735 together.

Following a number of largely unsuccessful non-statutory initiatives and a public consultation, the European Commission submitted its formal proposal for a Directive on improving the gender balance on company boards to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on 14 November 2012. The content of the proposed Directive will be debated, and possibly amended, in those fora before it is adopted into European Law and then transposed into the law of member states.

The draft Directive proposes agreement on a 40% target for the under represented sex (usually women) on non-executive boards of listed companies by 2020 and listed companies which are public undertakings by 2018, based on pre-established, neutrally formulated and unambiguous criteria in selection procedures.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are excluded from the scope of the proposal while the sanctions to be imposed for non-compliance are left to Member States to decide but must be dissuasive, effective and proportionate.

The Irish Presidency will steer the opening stages of these negotiations through the Social Questions Working Group and then to the EPSCO Council as appropriate while at the same time working with the European Parliament on the proposal.

Disability Support Services Provision

 728. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if all sections of the Disability Act 2005 have been fully implemented; if not, the sections of the Act which remain to be implemented; the timescale for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1220/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Disability Act 2005 is a positive action measure designed to support the provision of disability-specific services to people with disabilities and to improve access to mainstream public services for people with disabilities. All sections of the Act have been commenced and its implementation is ongoing.

Many of the provisions are implemented on an ongoing basis, for example, Government Departments make provision for expenditure on service delivery on an annual basis. Departments and other public bodies are also implementing the accessibility provisions of the Act including appointing access officers and provision of complaints procedures.

In addition, a number of key initiatives have been implemented since the commencement of the Act. In 2006 sectoral plans for relevant Government Departments were published and provided for how these Departments would serve the needs of people with disabilities and set out a programme for future development. Codes of practice in respect of accessibility of public services, information provided by public bodies and heritage sites have been published by the National Disability Authority. Part 5 of the Act provides for a statutory target for the recruitment and employment of people with disabilities in the public sector. This provision is ongoing and annual monitoring reports are prepared by the National Disability Authority. A centre of excellence in universal design was established in 2007 in the National Disability Authority and is dedicated to enabling the design of environments that can be accessed, understood and used regardless of age, size and ability.

Section 6 provides for a review of the operation of the Act not later than five years after commencement. This review was completed and a report was published in July 2010.

Part 2 of the Act is the responsibility of the Minister for Health. In 2006 a cross-sectoral team was established to provide for a joint approach by the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills to the implementation of the Disability Act 2005 and the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004. The team now includes a representative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 provides disabled individuals with an entitlement to an independent assessment of need and a statement of proposed services to be provided and allows them to pursue a complaint and, if necessary, make an appeal to the independent Disability Appeals Officer. Part 2 of the Act was commenced on 1 June 2007 in respect of children under the age of five. It had been intended to have both the Disability Act 2005 and the EPSEN Act 2004 fully implemented during 2010 for children and young people aged up to 18. However, in 2008 the then Government decided, in light of financial circumstances, to defer further implementation of both Acts. Notwithstanding this the cross-sectoral team continues to meet to address issues of mutual concern for children with disabilities.

The Deputy will also be aware of the work relating to the National Disability Strategy and the intention of my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, in line with commitments in the Programme for Government, to agree and publish an implementation plan for that strategy in the coming months.

Road Traffic Accidents Data

 729. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of road accidents in 2012 that involved one or more drivers on a provisional licence. [1734/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In the time available it has not been possible for the Garda authorities to supply the information requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Garda Operations

 730. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the actions taken to date and the future plans the Gardaí have developed to tackle counterfeit goods; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55493/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The lead role in combating counterfeit goods in this jurisdiction primarily rests with the Revenue Commissioners (Customs Service), in the context of the investigation of revenue offences which occasion significant financial losses to the Exchequer. Having said that, both the Revenue Customs Service and An Garda Síochána continue to make significant efforts, separately and together, to disrupt the activities of those involved in this type of criminal activity.

Searches are regularly undertaken by members of An Garda Síochána at the request of the Revenue Customs Service as part of intelligence-led operations led by that Service. Incidents relating to the sale or supply of counterfeit goods reported to An Garda Síochána are the subject of investigation. Members of a specialist unit within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation are available to provide assistance and advice in respect of such investigations and regularly assist with investigations at District or Divisional level. In addition, the sale of goods at markets is the subject of regular and ongoing monitoring by Gardaí for counterfeit goods and products. Furthermore, the Intellectual Property Crime Unit at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation works with relevant agencies, including the Revenue Customs Service, to provide a multi-agency approach to tackling this activity and to facilitate the co-ordination of investigations.

Due to the transnational nature of counterfeiting activity, An Garda Síochána also work with other stakeholders to monitor any new innovations in this type of criminal activity. This includes liaising with other policing and customs agencies in neighbouring jurisdictions. Such cross border co-operation includes, for example, cross-border task forces which have been established with the authorities in Northern Ireland to specifically target the distribution of illegal fuels and tobacco products. These task forces comprise representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, HM Revenue Customs, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (UK), Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau.

I can assure the Deputy of the continued commitment of An Garda Síochána to tackling such criminal activity.

Northern Ireland Issues

 731. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the discussions he has held with the Northern Executive and British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in relation to combating the threat presented by militant dissident activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1359/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I meet frequently and maintain ongoing contact with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, with regard to the security situation and efforts to combat threats from criminal terrorists, the so-called ‘dissident republican’ groups.

The ongoing threat which these groups present is a matter of shared concern to us. We also share a strong resolve to take all necessary actions within the law to combat the activities of these groups.

We must be clear, of course, that these so-called 'dissident republicans' are criminal terrorists who use lethal violence in pursuit of their own, often personal, ends. We should also be aware that they are deeply and inextricably involved in serious crime in order to fund their activities and their lifestyles.

Countering the threat from terrorists has always been a priority for the Garda Síochána and nothing has changed in that regard. The Gardaí continue in their efforts to counteract these groups and their activities.

I can assure the Deputy that the gardaí continue to co-operate seamlessly with their police and security counterparts in Northern Ireland in actively bearing down on these groups. Operational policing co-operation is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI and both police chiefs have emphasised the close and high quality co-operation between their forces. This has been instrumental in preventing attacks, combating criminality and saving lives.

There is also a close and ongoing working relationship between our officials. By working together on matters of mutual concern and interest we can improve community safety for all the people on this island. We will continue, in co-operation with the authorities in Northern Ireland and Great Britain, to spare no effort to ensure that those criminal terrorists who seek to subvert the democratic will of the people will face the full rigours of the law.

Regulatory Impact Assessment Numbers

 732. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of regulatory impact assessments that have been carried out by his Department in the past twelve months; and the list of regulatory impact assessments carried out within his Department in the past twelve months.  [57764/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to advise the Deputy that a total of seven Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIA) were carried out by my Department in the past 12 months concerning the following:

-Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information On Offences Against Children And Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012

-Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012

-Criminal Justice (Search Powers) Act 2012

-Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2012

-Garda Síochána (Compensation for Malicious Injuries) Bill 2012

-Fines (Amendment) Bill 2012

-Personal Insolvency Bill 2012

Garda Strength

 733. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the recent assessment he has made of policing levels in Dublin North East and Dublin North Central; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57796/12]

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 been informed by the Garda Commissioner that on 30 November 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of the Garda Divisions in the areas referred to by the Deputy was as is set out on the table.

Division
Garda strength
Reserve Strength
Civilian Personnel
DMR North Central
654
50
38
DMR North
745
63
42
DMR East
424
17
23

Leave to Remain

 734. Deputy Eamonn Maloney Information on Eamonn Maloney Zoom on Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of outstanding applications for leave to remain from 1 January 2008 that are pending a decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57809/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In the interests of clarity, what is referred to as 'an application for leave to remain' refers to the submission of written representations to the Minister for Justice and Equality against the making of a Deportation Order, pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). In all such cases, before a final decision is made, consideration is given to the eleven separate headings set out in Section 3 (6) of the 1999 Act, the provisions of Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement and other relevant legal and constitutional provisions. Such decision making is also guided by, among other things, international law and Supreme and High Court judgments. This process is followed in asylum related cases and in the cases of illegal immigrants. The ultimate decision will be to make a Deportation Order or to grant Leave to Remain in the State for a specified period and subject to stated conditions.

 Before a third country national can apply for leave to remain, he or she must be served with a notification of intention to deport, as provided for under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). In this connection, in the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (to the end of November) a total of 3,185, 5,037, 4,326, 2,471 and 1,991 notifications of intention to deport were issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). Arising from the decision-making process described in the foregoing, many of these cases have been finalised  through the granting of subsidiary protection, the granting of permission to remain under different headings (including under EU treaty rights, through marriage to an Irish national or under family reunification provisions), the making of deportation orders and the voluntary repatriation, formally and informally, of many of the persons involved. Other cases cannot be finalised owing to the existence of judicial review proceedings while a further cohort of cases will clearly remain to be decided. Precise figures for each of these categories are not available for each of the years in question without engaging in a very detailed exercise which would not be justified as it would divert resources from case processing which obviously is a higher priority.

  The Deputy should note that the processing of cases at the repatriation stage is a complex one with obligations to adhere to both domestic and international laws and jurisprudence and to make decisions in accordance with the UN Convention on Human Rights. However, I am anxious that all cases are processed as quickly as possible and, to this end, additional staff members have been deployed to this area of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in recent years and substantial investment has been made in the development of technology required to support the processing of such cases. Additionally, the current multi-layered approach to the processing of cases of asylum origin is clearly not resource efficient nor applicant friendly and that is why I am providing for a single-procedure-based approach in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, which I plan to progress in 2013. This proposed single-procedure will require applicants to advance, at the outset, all reasons, protection or otherwise, behind their request to remain in the State. As a result, the days of the multi-layered approach to dealing with such cases will cease.    

  Finally, I might add that I recently approved an initiative to put in place a panel with legal expertise who will assist the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in processing a cohort of repatriation cases, thus speeding up the overall process and reducing the time spent by persons in the direct provision system. I would expect to see significant dividends, in terms of cases finalised, from this initiative in the coming months.

Question No. 735 answered with Question No. 727.

Gambling Legislation

 736. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the position regarding the proposed Gambling Bill; the progress that has been made by his Department for the establishment of a gambling and gaming regulator; the organisational structure of the proposed regulator; the proposed remit of such a regulator; the powers that will be vested in the regulator; if his Department has or will be undertaking consultation before the establishment of such a regulator; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57841/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will recall my announcement in September 2011 that the Government had approved my proposals for new legislation on the regulation of gambling. My Department has since then been preparing the heads of a new Bill. I hope to be able to bring the heads to Government shortly for its approval and agreement to proceed to formal drafting.

I can say, subject to the Government's agreement, that there will be a new central regulatory body with responsibility for the licensing of gambling activities and operations. It will also have full inspection and enforcement powers. This new unified system will replace the separate systems still in place for betting and gaming under the Betting Act 1931 and the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, as amended. The regulator's responsibilities will extend to the regulation of land-based outlets, including modest-sized casinos, as well as services offered by telephone, internet, interactive TV or by any other electronic means.

My Department has at all times maintained an open and proper relationship with the gambling sector. It conducted a formal consultation process in 2010 and it made submissions available on its website. It has, at their request, met several organisations and individuals in the period since the Government agreed in 2011 to prepare new legislation. Looking ahead, I am planning to make the heads of the Bill available on my Department's website once they have been approved by the Government and my officials will be pleased to receive comments on them at that time.

Garda Deployment

 737. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the location to which the gardaí attached to Garda stations (details supplied) in County Mayo which are proposed to be closed will be re-stationed; if there will be a Garda car available to these gardaí to police the areas losing a Garda station at the very least during the current opening hours of the said Garda stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57843/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2013, which I laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 5 December 2012, sets out details of the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country, the future opening hours of other stations and a number of District amalgamations. It is important to remember that while some Garda stations are listed for revised opening hours from 24-hour stations, they will remain as functioning Garda stations on a 24-hour basis. The full list of these details, including the allocation of personnel, is available in the policing plan which is available in the Oireachtas Library, on my Department's website and on the Garda website.

  Decisions in relation to the provision and deployment of Garda transport are matters for the Garda Commissioner and the local Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations as required by operational circumstances. When allocating vehicles, the operational requirements of the Mayo Division will be considered within the overall operational requirements of the organisation.

  Specifically in relation to Mayo, the following table outlines the re-allocation of gardaí and alternative policing arrangements to be put in place following the closure of the six (6) stations in the Division;

Station
Ballycastle
Ballyglass
Ballyvary
Blacksod
Hollymount
Laherdaun
Strength
1
0
1
0
1
1
Transferred to:
Killala
-
Castlebar
-
Ballinrobe
Crossmolina
Distance to nearest station
14km
12km
11km
20km
10km
9km
Cover provided by:
Killala and Ballina
Balla and Castlebar
Balla
Belmullet
Claremorris
Crossmolina
  A total of four gardaí will be re-stationed as a result of the above station closures. There are no gardaí attached to Ballyglass and Blacksod Garda stations.

  An Garda Síochána will maintain the policing service provided to communities and any restructuring of the Garda station network will only occur to deliver greater efficiencies in the deployment of personnel and other resources within each Division. The priority is to ensure that an effective and professional policing service is provided to all communities throughout the country.

Prisoner Transfers

 738. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has received an application from a person (details supplied) for the purposes of transferring to a prison here. [57868/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that no such application for a transfer to a prison here, has been received in respect of the person referred to by the Deputy.

Public Sector Reform Review

 739. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide in tabular form the number of agencies, bodies, boards, quangos or other entities, which are financed from, answerable to or established by his Department that have been abolished, merged or re-organised since this Government took office; the savings that have been realised since the changes were made; the level of staff reduction that has been achieved; if he will provide details of further agency reductions that he intends to pursue in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57882/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I presume that the Deputy is referring to Government agencies falling under the remit of my Department. The term "quango" is an acronym which stands for quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations. No non-governmental organisations fall under the remit of my Department.

  As the Deputy is aware, the radical streamlining of State bodies is a key deliverable of the Public Service Reform Plan, published in November 2011. This streamlining includes the rationalisation of 48 bodies by the end of 2012, as well as the critical review of a further 46 bodies to take place by the end of June 2012. Details of the bodies involved are set out in Appendices IIa and IIb of the Plan which can be found at: http://reformplan.per.gov.ie/files/2012/01/Public-Service-Reform-28112011.pdf.

  On 31 October 2012, my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, announced an update in relation to the programme of rationalisation of State bodies. While these rationalisations will deliver savings to the taxpayer, the real benefits lie in the simplification of the administrative landscape, thereby ensuring greater accountability, less duplication of effort and more transparent lines of responsibility of public servants. It is not possible at this time to specify anticipated savings on an individual State body basis. However, the Public Service Reform Plan indicated that across the public service as a whole, savings of 20 million euro in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money are envisaged from the rationalisation programme.

  With regard to the specific details now sought I wish to inform the Deputy that the information he requested is set out below. Unfortunately, it was not possible to include a response from An Garda Síochána in the timeframe allowed. As soon as this information becomes available, it will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

  Equality Tribunal: Administrative responsibility for the Equality Tribunal transferred from the Department of Justice and Equality to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with effect from 1 January 2013, as part of the wider rationalisation of the industrial relations/employee rights institutions - Labour Court, Labour Relations Commission, Employee Appeals Tribunal, National Employment Rights Authority and Equality Tribunal - into single Workplace Relations Service. This overall rationalisation of industrial relations institutions is being led by my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. While this rationalisation will deliver savings to the taxpayer, the real benefits lie in the simplification of the administrative landscape, thereby ensuring greater accountability, less duplication of effort and more transparent lines of access to redress for people who consider their rights have been infringed.

  Forensic Science Laboratory:  The Government has decided to place the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) within the ambit of the State Laboratory as a merger is not possible at this time for reasons primarily related to the separate geographical locations of both laboratories and the lack of overlap in their functional operations. The budget and staff resources of the FSL will not be affected by this decision as the agency will remain under the auspices of my Department due to the existing strong synergies with other facets of the criminal justice system. However, it is intended that the Government decision will facilitate and encourage closer co-operation between the laboratories as well as the pursuit of savings in areas such as professional training and equipment purchase.

  Independent International Commission on Decommissioning:  The Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) was responsible for overseeing the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. It was established by an agreement between the Irish and British Governments, signed on 26 August 1997, and by legislation enacted in the two jurisdictions. It was dissolved on 31 March 2011. The outturn for the Commission's last full year of operation 2010 was €594,000.

  Independent Monitoring Commission:  The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) was responsible for monitoring and reporting on paramilitary activity across Ireland and also for monitoring the security normalisation measures undertaken by the British Government in the North. It was dissolved on 31 March 2011. The outturn for the Commission's last full year of operation 2010 was €426,000.

Internet Safety Advisory Council: The Internet Safety Advisory Council was appointed by the Minister for Justice with effect from 1 December 2008. It was not statutory or regulatory but it was advisory. The mandate for the Internet Safety Advisory Council expired on 30 November 2011. The Chair of the Internet Safety Advisory Council received remuneration of €8,978 per year. The Internet Safety Advisory Committee succeeded the previous Internet Safety Advisory Council and it held its first meeting on 12 April 2012. The Chair does not receive any remuneration.   

  Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission: Preparations to establish the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which will replace the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority, are at a very advanced stage and I hope to be in a position to make a further announcement in relation to the appointment of the new Commission soon. While there will be administrative efficiencies and savings from the merger, the two existing bodies have suffered disproportionate cuts in the past and as I have already indicated, the cash savings will remain with the new Commission to support its core work. In relation to staffing, the new Commission will as a priority be invited to undertake a staffing review and submit a business case for any additional resources it considers necessary to fulfil its mandate.

  National Disability Strategy Implementation Group: On 30 November, 2011 the National Disability Strategy Implementation Group (NDSIG) was established and is chaired by Minister of State Deputy, Kathleen Lynch. This group replaces the former National Disability Strategy Stakeholder Monitoring Group (NDSSMG). Its function is to provide a forum under the leadership of the Minister within which Government officials and disability stakeholders can work together, to guide the development of a National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan and to collaborate on its implementation including advising on the resolution of implementation difficulties.

  Prisons Authority Interim Board:  The Prisons Authority Interim Board was abolished on 26 July, 2011. The amount saved is in excess of €100,000 per annum.  

Prison Visiting Committees:The Government has approved the drafting of a General Scheme of an Inspection of Places of Detention Bill, which will include provisions to make visiting committees more effective, while they continue their role of visiting prisons, meeting with prisoners and liaising on their behalf with prison authorities. A link will be established between the visiting committees and the Inspector of Prisons. As part of these plans, it is intended to expand the role of the Inspector of Prisons. Under the proposed arrangements, it is my intention that visiting committees would be able to report any urgent or major matter to the Inspector at any time. Subject to competing legislative priorities, it is expected that the General Scheme will be published by the end of the year. When work on preparation of the General Scheme has been completed, I will be seeking Government approval for its publication to facilitate a consultation process in advance of drafting and publication of the Bill.

  Property Registration Authority:  A proposal has been made to merge the Valuation Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Property Registration Authority. Following the Government approval of the recommendation of the Critical Review on this proposal, work is underway to advance this merger.

  Reception and Integration Agency, Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and Refugee Appeals Tribunal: Consolidation of refugee structures will be addressed through the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. The Bill will provide for the Office of the Refugee Applications Commission (ORAC) to be subsumed into INIS - the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. The Bill will also provide for the replacement of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal with the new Protection Review Tribunal.

Proposed Legislation

 740. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to introduce legislation to criminalise the grooming of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56781/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Under section 3 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 (as inserted by section 6 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2007), any person who intentionally meets, or travels with the intention of meeting, a child, having met or communicated with that child on two or more previous occasions and does so for the purpose of sexual exploitation of the child, is guilty of an offence. The definition of sexual exploitation in this context is very broad. It means:

(a) inviting, inducing or coercing the child to engage in prostitution or the production of child pornography;

(b) using the child for such purposes;

(c) inviting, inducing or coercing a child to participate in any sexual activity which is an offence under any enactment;

(d) the commission of any such offence against the child; or

(e) inviting, inducing or coercing the child to participate in or observe any activity of a sexual or indecent nature.

  My Department has been conducting a wide-ranging examination of the law on sexual offences. Arising from this review, legislative proposals to enhance the protection of children against sexual abuse and exploitation, including grooming, are at an advanced stage of preparation. The review is close to completion and I expect to bring legislative proposals to Government shortly.

Citizenship Applications

 741. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the position regarding an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57896/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in November, 2009.

  The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. While good progress continues to be made in reducing the large volume of cases on hands, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that for a broad range of reasons some cases will take longer than others to process. It is a statutory requirement that, inter alia, applicants for naturalisation be of good character. In some instances that can be established relatively quickly and in other cases completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time. I can, however, inform the Deputy that enormous progress has been made in dealing with the backlog and steps are being taken to process all outstanding applications as quickly as possible.

  The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

  Queries regarding 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.

Legal Matters

 742. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his views on whether An Garda Síochána is discharging its duty to take proper heed or proper notice of concerns expressed in the courts as to the abuse of the summary summons or special summons process by the filing of affidavits containing untrue or unfounded averments of fact and law; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57919/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 26520/12 which was answered on 6 of June 2012.

The summary summons procedure is one whereby civil proceedings can be commenced in the High Court and those proceedings are heard on affidavit without pleadings and with or without oral evidence. The special summons procedure is one that may be adopted where there is no other procedure prescribed by the Rules of the Superior Courts and the proceeding is one which is required or authorised by law.

Where people knowingly file affidavits containing falsehoods they may be guilty of committing the offence of perjury. One of the functions of the Garda Síochána is to bring criminals to justice by detecting and investigating alleged crimes and if the Deputy is aware of any particular instance where the offence of perjury may have been committed she should bring this to the attention of the Garda authorities so that the matter can be investigated.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 743. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to an issue regarding disclosure of a non-conviction under Section 1(1) of the Probation Act, (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [57937/12]

 755. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will respond to correspondence regarding disclosure of non conviction in respect of a person (details supplied). [58090/12]

 758. 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 a non-conviction pursuant to Section 1(1) of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 may be disclosed under the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012.  [58132/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 743, 755 and 758 together.

  Section 1 (1) of the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 allows a court of summary jurisdiction, in a case where the court thinks the charge is proved but it is inexpedient to inflict any punishment, to release the offender on probation without proceeding to a conviction and make an order dismissing the charge or discharging the offender conditionally.

  Garda Vetting disclosures are made to registered organisations following the signed authorisation of a vetting subject permitting the Garda Central Vetting Unit to disclose to the registered organisation "details of all prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions which may be recorded in respect of them in the State or elsewhere"; or alternatively that there are "no prosecutions or convictions recorded in respect of them". To the extent that all prosecutions are disclosed under existing arrangements, a prosecution resulting in an order dismissing the charges or discharging the offender conditionally under the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 would be disclosed.

  However, this will no longer be the case following the enactment and commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. Under that Act, "criminal records" which will be subject to automatic disclosure are defined (in Section 2) as "(a) a record of the person's convictions, whether within or outside the State, for any criminal offences, together with any ancillary or consequential orders made pursuant to the convictions concerned, or (b) a record of any prosecutions pending against the person, whether within or outside the State, for any criminal offence, or both;".

  As automatic disclosures will be limited to convictions or pending prosecutions, an order dismissing the charge under the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 will not be automatically disclosed on foot of an application for a vetting disclosure following the commencement of the new vetting legislation. However, it may be information which could be disclosed under the category of 'specified information'. Under the Act, this is information, other than criminal records, which concerns a finding or allegation of harm to another person which is of such a nature as to reasonably give rise to a bona fide concern that the person may harm a child or vulnerable person. However, the disclosure of such information is subject to the prior notice of the vetting subject and requires a pre-disclosure assessment as to the relevance of the information concerned to the type of work or activity to which the application for vetting relates. There is also provision for the vetting subject to appeal a decision to disclose such information.    

  The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act passed all stages on 19 December, 2012 and was signed by the President on 26 December, 2012.

  A response has been issued to the correspondence in question.


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