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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 49-57
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Garda Stations
 Header Item Aviation Licences
 Header Item Human Rights Issues

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 795 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 49-57

Cross-Border Co-operation

 49. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will update Dáil Éireann on cooperation between An Garda Síochána, the PSNI and MI-5, with specific reference to cooperation between An Garda Síochána Superintendents and their Northern Ireland equivalents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11419/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI and their respective forces have responsibility for operational policing co-operation. There is in place a joint Cross Border Policing Strategy which the two police forces operate. This strategy covers the range of policing areas of mutual interest to the two forces and the co-operation activities which take place under the strategy are not rank specific in respect of either force.

The Garda Síochána maintains a close working relationship with the police and security services in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and, indeed, with their counterparts in other EU and third countries in respect of ongoing, international efforts to counter terrorism. I am sure the Deputy will understand that it would not be appropriate, for sound reasons of security, to elaborate in any detail on what might be entailed in the Garda Authorities' relationship with other security and intelligence services.

  Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 39.

  Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 25.

Garda Investigations

 52. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will have the case of the murder of Garda Richard Fallon on 3 April 1970 independently reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11418/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The murder of Garda Richard Fallon was a terrible tragedy for his family and I want to, again, express my deepest sympathy to them. On top of that personal tragedy, his murder was also an event that can only be described as a heinous crime carried out by ruthless individuals. As the Deputy will be aware, this case is currently being reviewed by An Garda Síochána’s Serious Crime Review Team and it is expected that the results will be available to the family shortly. I am conscious that this is a matter of great concern to the Fallon family but I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would be best to await the outcome of the Garda review.

  Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 25.

Road Traffic Offences

 54. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his proposals concerning the termination of penalty points; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11684/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Fixed Charge Notices are provided for under the Road Traffic Act, 2002 and are an alternative to prosecution. They give a motorist the opportunity to acknowledge the offence, pay the fixed charge and, where the offence is a penalty point offence, incur the appropriate penalty points. While the issuing of a Fixed Charge Notice does not constitute commencement of legal proceedings, it normally leads to a prosecution if the fixed charge is not paid.

There can be circumstances, however, where the Fixed Charge Notice may be cancelled, in accordance with Garda procedures drawn up in the light of legislative exemptions and prosecutorial guidelines. Cancellation occurs where it is believed the evidence would not sustain a prosecution or a prosecution would not be appropriate, fair or proportionate. The procedures provide authority to District Officers, or Inspectors Acting as District Officers, and an Inspector in the Fixed Charge Processing Office to cancel Fixed Charge Notices. Cancellation can occur in circumstances where, for example, exemptions apply in relation to emergency vehicles or the wearing of seatbelts, or where there are evidential difficulties, such as where the registration number registered by a speed camera does not correspond to the vehicle in question, or where there are emergency medical circumstances such as, for example, a sick child being driven to hospital, an imminent birth, or a medical professional rushing to a sick or elderly patient. Access to cancel a fixed charge notice through 'Pulse' is restricted to users with the rank of Inspector or higher.

Allegations concerning the cancellation of fixed charge notices are being examined by an Assistant Commissioner who is due to report his findings shortly. I have received an interim report from the Commissioner, but I will not be making any further comment on any allegations until the final report is available, which I have been informed by the Commissioner will be in two weeks time. It would be premature and wrong to assume that the cancellation of fixed charge notices were inappropriate. Let us await the final report on this matter, which I expect shortly, and we will then be in a position to draw conclusions.

Garda Stations

 55. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to reverse the decision to downgrade Gorey Garda Station, County Wexford, in view of the fact of the fast growing population and level of crime in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [11601/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In accordance with the provisions of the Garda Síochána Acts, proposals to change Garda District geographical boundaries are a matter in the first instance for the Garda Commissioner, in the context of his Annual Policing Plan. The Garda Policing Plan for 2013 sets out the Commissioner's proposals to amalgamate a number of Garda Districts, including the Gorey and Enniscorthy Districts. The Commissioner’s priority in introducing the changes in the 2013 Policing Plan was to ensure the continued delivery of an effective policing service throughout the country and ensure that Garda resources are deployed to meet the existing and projected policing requirements within all Divisions in 2013, including the Wexford Division.

The amalgamation of Garda Districts into larger Districts will allow for the more flexible deployment of resources and provide improved economies of scale in terms of administration. The Garda Commissioner has stated that, whilst the revised structures will further enhance operational capacity, they will also continue to support the Garda community policing philosophy. The revised District arrangements for the Wexford Division are aimed at freeing up Garda personnel from desk duties so that they are out with communities, engaging in frontline policing. In that context, I have been advised by the Garda authorities that the amalgamation of the Gorey and Enniscorthy Garda Districts will lead to improved efficiencies in the delivery of the policing service currently provided within the Wexford Garda Division.

Aviation Licences

 56. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total number of military aircraft that landed at Shannon Airport in 2012; the names of the State forces to which these aircraft belong; the reason these aircraft used the landing facilities at Shannon; and the average duration of their stay at Shannon. [11916/13]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952 gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland. In 2012, my Department granted permission for the landing of 608 foreign military aircraft at Shannon Airport. Permission was granted in all cases subject to the normal conditions that apply to landings at Irish airports by foreign military aircraft; namely that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, do not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operations.

  The table provides details of the countries involved and the number of times permission was sought to land in Shannon Airport. In the vast majority of cases, military aircraft used the landing facilities at Shannon Airport for the purposes of refuelling and to allow for crew and passenger rest. In a small number of cases, aircraft landed in Shannon Airport to allow for the transport of dignitaries or other persons participating in visits to Ireland, as a result of medical emergencies on board, for flight crew training, and for aircraft maintenance purposes. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not keep a record of the length of time involved on each occasion when a military aircraft lands at Shannon Airport.

Name of State No. of Landings
Bahrain
2
Belgium
3
Canada
10
China
1
Egypt
2
France
7
Germany
5
Italy
18
Jordan
3
Panama
1
Russia
4
Sweden
2
UAE
2
USA
548
Total
608

Human Rights Issues

 57. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the measures taken by Irish Aid, his Department and non-governmental organisations that receive financial support through Irish Aid or his Department, in support of human rights promotion in developing countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [11775/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Ireland’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. We strongly believe that sustainable development can only be achieved by ensuring a strong human rights foundation. That is why the Government places such an emphasis on the promotion of human rights in its poverty eradication efforts in developing countries. Through our overseas aid programme we support the promotion of human rights in developing countries in a number of important ways. Active engagement with and support for civil society is a key aspect of this work. Of Ireland’s total aid budget of €623 million this year, about a quarter will be channelled through civil society organisations to support their valuable work in advancing human rights, whether civil and political, or economic, social and cultural.

Specific funding is also provided for human rights work in Ireland’s nine Programme Countries. This supports the work of Governments for example in ensuring the rule of law, National Human Rights Institutions, non-governmental organisations and others in promoting and protecting human rights, especially for the most vulnerable. Overall funding for governance in our Programme Countries amounted to over €27.5 million in 2011, equivalent to 15% of our total spend there.

At the global level, support is provided for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which plays a pivotal role in overseeing major programmes in protecting human rights and implementing international rights agreements. €2 million was provided for the Office of the High Commissioner by Ireland in 2012. We also support the Irish Human Rights Commission for its work with National Human Rights Institutions in Sierra Leone and Malawi.

Ireland’s current membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council provides a further opportunity to play a vibrant and strong role in the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. We remain committed to a strong multilateral human rights system which can impartially monitor the implementation of human rights norms. In particular, Ireland is championing the UN Universal Periodic Review mechanism which reviews all member states’ human rights records.

At the European Union level too, Ireland is playing a full an active part in ensuring human rights are advanced in developing countries. Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union reaffirmed the EU’s determination to promote human rights and democracy through all its external actions. Ireland, together with other EU Member States and the European Commission, agreed an EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy last year. By working together effectively in promoting human rights, we believe our impact will be greater.


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