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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 898 to 920
 Header Item Garda Transport Data
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Garda Vetting Applications
 Header Item Magdalen Laundries
 Header Item Private Security Authority Fees
 Header Item Prison Visiting Regulations
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Upward Only Rent Reviews
 Header Item Anti-Social Behaviour
 Header Item Emergency Service Personnel
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Judicial Separation Legislation
 Header Item Garda Retirements
 Header Item Residency Status
 Header Item International Summits
 Header Item Penalty Points System
 Header Item Asylum Complaints Mechanism
 Header Item Temporary Release of Prisoners

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 799 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 898 to 920

Garda Transport Data

 898. 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 the number of vehicles available to An Garda Síochána in County Louth at present; and the number that were available to An Garda Síochána in County Louth in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. [16590/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Decisions on the provision and deployment of Garda transport are matters for the Garda Commissioner. Responsibility for the efficient deployment of official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations, as required by operational circumstances.

  In that overall context, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Garda vehicles allocated to Co. Louth for the periods requested by the Deputy is as outlined in the following table:

PERIOD
NUMBER OF VEHICLES
12/4/13
47
2012
44
2011
49
2010
49
2009
48
2008
47

Crime Data

 899. 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 the controls which exist in An Garda Síochána to ensure that all reported crimes are captured for statistical purposes by the Central Statistics Office. [16594/13]

 900. 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 the way a member of the public who has reported a crime to An Garda Síochána can be confident that the crime has been captured for statistical purposes by the Central Statistics Office. [16595/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 899 and 900 together.

  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. Section 47 of the Act of 2005 places an obligation on An Garda Síochána to provide statistical data concerning crime to the CSO. In this regard, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the relevant data from the Garda PULSE system is electronically transferred to the CSO at regular intervals.

  The General Crime Counting Rules are published by the CSO on www.cso.ie   as Technical Notes in the Background Information section in each of its Quarterly Recorded Crime Reports. These notes explain when a crime is captured on PULSE.

  I am also informed that supervisory ranks within An Garda Síochána review all incidents recorded on PULSE to ensure that the correct crime classification is recorded. Further to this supervision, the Garda Information Service Centre (GISC), the central authority for recording crime incidents on PULSE, also monitors and reviews PULSE information to ensure the crime classification is correct.

Garda Vetting Applications

 901. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will expedite vetting in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6 in view of the fact that the delay is impacting on ability to fulfil work commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16623/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application on behalf of the person concerned was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) on 26 February 2013. The application is being processed and will be returned to the registered organisation once completed.

All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process. In order to observe equity and fairness in respect of all applicants for Garda Vetting, standard processing procedures are such that applications are processed in chronological order, from the date of receipt at the Central Vetting Unit.

Magdalen Laundries

 902. 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 the measures being taken to ensure the Magdalen Fund/Commission is a transparent process; if it will have an appeals process with independent monitoring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16631/13]

 903. 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 if Justice Quirke will be commissioned to implement the process that he recommends after the three month review work of the Magdalen Fund/Commission. [16632/13]

 930. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will consider making available free independent advice and advocacy assistance in relation to the proposed redress scheme to survivors of Magdalen laundries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17138/13]

 931. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will establish a dedicated helpline for Magdalen survivors to assist them in dealing with the Quirke review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17139/13]

 937. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the Magdalen Fund/Commission will be placed on a statutory footing with independent statutory powers. [17152/13]

 939. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the measures that are being put in place to enable women in institutionalised settings to engage with the Magdalen Fund/Commission; and if a guardian ad litem or independent advocate will be provided in all such cases as a way to further guarantee their rights. [17154/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 902, 903, 930, 931, 937 and 939 together.

  Mr. Justice Quirke has been asked to advise on the establishment of a scheme for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Laundry and to examine how best to operate, as part of that scheme, necessary supports for women who have been in a Magdalen Laundry. It is a matter for Judge Quirke to decide independently how he will carry out his examination. His terms of reference are as follows:

  "Taking into account the findings of the "Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries"

(i) to advise on the establishment of an ex gratia Scheme (to operate on a non-adverserial basis) including identifying the criteria and factors to be taken into account to facilitate the early establishment and effective conduct of an ex gratia Scheme for the benefit of those women who were admitted to and worked in a Magdalen Laundry and in the Laundry operated in the Training Centre at Stanhope Street, Dublin, taking into account criteria determined to be relevant, including work undertaken and other matters as considered appropriate, to contribute to a healing and reconciliation process;   

(ii) to examine how best to operate (as part of that Scheme) an ex gratia Fund, of a sum sufficient to meet the recommendations of Mr Justice Quirke, the nature and amount of ex gratia payments to be made out of the Fund and on the determination of applications for payment in an effective and timely manner that ensures the monies in the Fund are directed only to the benefit of eligible applicants and not on legal fees and expenses.

(iii) to examine how the Government might best provide supports (including health services such as medical cards, mental health services and counselling services and other welfare needs) as part of the Scheme for women who require such supports as a result of their experiences in the Laundries.   

(iv) to consider the approach to be taken in circumstances in which a payment has already been made by the Redress Board by way of redress to a former resident of an industrial school, where such payment included a sum specifically due to the direct transfer of that person from an industrial school to a relevant Laundry and their time or part of their time spent in a Laundry or Laundries.   

(v) to examine the effect, if any, of the making of an ex gratia payment to a person who is resident in the UK and how best the making of any such payment should be structured so as not to adversely affect their existing entitlements to benefits and supports.   

(vi) to advise as to what steps or measures are appropriate to ensure that ex gratia payments or supports or assistance provided are dis-regarded for the purposes of determining entitlement of Social Welfare payments and/or income tax liability.   

(vii) to report back to Government within three months with recommendations.   

  When his recommendations have been received, the Government will consider the matter and decide how best to implement a scheme.

Private Security Authority Fees

 904. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will consider instructing the Private Security Authority to waive the registration and audit fees for businesses who must register with the PSA, in instances in which the businesses can prove they are not currently in profit, or the payment of such fees would result in losses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16648/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent agency under the remit of my Department, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State.

Currently contractors operating in the Cash-In-Transit, Door Supervisor, Security Guarding and Installer of Security Equipment sectors of the private security industry are subject to PSA licensing and are therefore required to pay a licence fee to the Authority. The Authority is however fully aware of the difficulties faced by the industry at this time and continues to seek ways of easing the burden of regulation while at the same time meeting its statutory obligations. I am informed that the Authority operates an instalment payment option to assist contractors with paying for their licence fees and anyone who wishes to consider pursuing this option should contact the PSA directly.

While it is not envisaged that businesses would be exempt from fees, the Authority and my Department have been in consultation about a review of the PSA's licence fees for smaller contractors. Any change in such fees however requires the drafting of a new Statutory Instrument and my Department is in regular contact with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in this regard and has asked that it be given priority. It is expected that this process will be completed in the near future and I will then be in a position to make an announcement on the matter.

Prison Visiting Regulations

 905. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will request that family visits or access is organised for persons (details supplied), in accordance with best practise operating in European prisons. [16660/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to advise the Deputy that a request has been received from the Northern Ireland Prison Service seeking some form of personal contact between the two persons referred to.

I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that discussions are taking place to establish whether a video link-up can be arranged. Both organisations are currently examining their own video technology to determine whether such a link-up can be arranged, given technological compatibility and suitability concerns.

Proposed Legislation

 906. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the protection afforded to persons who have signed an Enduring Power of Attorney, particularly with regard to End-of-Life and healthcare decisions; and the avenues open for citizens who believe that these attorneys are not acting in the persons best interests. [16662/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The High Court has a supervisory role in relation to the execution of an enduring power of attorney. Section 12 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1996 provides that the High Court, on application from the donor, attorney or an interested party, may give direction with respect to, among other things, a personal care decision made or to be made by an attorney. Section 12 also gives the High Court the power to cancel the registration of an enduring power of attorney.

  The Assisted Decision-Making Bill, which will be published in the near future, will subsume and re-enact the enduring power provisions of the 1996 Act to bring them into line with the general principles of the Bill. The Bill will propose the establishment of an Office of the Public Guardian which, amongst its other functions, will have responsibilities in registering enduring powers and in supervising attorneys.

  In relation to health care decisions, legislative provisions for advance healthcare directives will be incorporated into the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill. These provisions are being drafted by officials in the Department of Health. The purpose of the advance healthcare directive provisions is to promote individual autonomy and to ensure that people receive treatment that is respectful of their will and preferences. As part of this process, it is envisaged that there will be two mechanisms whereby an adult with capacity can nominate, a legal representative who would be involved in the healthcare decision-making process on that individual’s behalf should s/he subsequently lose capacity, namely the enduring power of attorney or by nominating a patient-designated healthcare representative (usually a relative or close friend trusted by the individual) in his/her advance healthcare directive. The proposed purpose of the patient-designated healthcare representative system is to provide a more facilitative mechanism which does not require the involvement of the courts or other statutory bodies, through which an individual can appoint a legal agent for healthcare decision-making.

In order to alleviate concerns about potential abuse or conflicts of interest that might arise in relation to the patient-designated healthcare representative and any decisions s/he might make regarding the treatment of the individual who nominated them, it is envisaged that the legislative provisions will include specific requirements and safeguards that need to be satisfied in order for an individual to appoint a patient-designated healthcare representative in his/her advance healthcare directive.

Upward Only Rent Reviews

 907. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will re-examine the decision not to proceed with legislation to abolish upward only rent review clauses in commercial leases in view of the fact that small and medium sized businesses are closing on a daily basis due to high rents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16744/13]

 909. 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 in view of the recent judgement in the courts regarding upward only rent, if he has any proposals regarding upward only rents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16856/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 907 and 909 together.

There is almost certainly a general consensus in the House concerning the need for landlords to engage actively with commercial tenants who are experiencing difficulties because of high rents in order to bring those rents down to a viable and sustainable level. Deputies will recall that the Government made a difficult decision in December 2011 not to proceed with the commitment in the programme for Government to legislate to end upward only rent review clauses for leases entered into prior to 28 February 2010. That decision was taken on foot of consultations with the Attorney General, who made it clear that the proposed legislation gave rise to significant constitutional difficulties. It was also clear that any legislative proposal would require the payment of compensation to those whose property rights would be infringed if that proposal were to be compatible with Constitutional and European Court of Human Rights norms.

There are no plans to re-examine the decision which was taken in 2011.

Anti-Social Behaviour

 908. 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 the action being taken to curb anti-social activity in an area (details supplied) in Dublin 9.  [16844/13]

 952. 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 the position regarding the anti-social activities reported in an area (details supplied). [17409/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 908 and 952 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Raheny Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of the issues of concern in this regard.

I am further informed that current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences. A dedicated community policing Garda is assigned to the area who is fully aware of the position in the complex in question. Community policing is a central feature of policing policy and current strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of a policing service to the area in question. Gardaí in Raheny Garda District will continue to work with individuals and groups in the area and the situation will be kept under review.

Local Garda Management closely monitors patrols, and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in these areas to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

I am advised that Garda Management is satisfied that a full and comprehensive policing service is being delivered to the area concerned and current structures in place meet the requirements of the delivery of an effective and efficient policing service.

  Question No. 909 answered with Question No. 907.

Emergency Service Personnel

 910. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any extra penalties apply to the assault of emergency workers while they are on duty; and if not, if he will consider amending legislation to provide for same. [16901/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter There is specific legislation in place to deal with assaults of, or threats to, emergency workers in front line positions, which is contained in section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) 1994 Act (as amended by section 185 Criminal Justice Act 2006).

Section 19 provides that any person who assaults or threatens to assault a person providing medical services at or in a hospital or a peace officer acting in the execution of their duty is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both or on conviction on indictment to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to both.

A peace officer refers to a member of the Garda Síochána, a prison officer, a member of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or a member of the Defence Forces. This offence also applies to assaults or threats to assault in relation to a person assisting a person providing medical services or a person acting to assist a peace officer. Section 19 also provides for an offence of resisting or wilfully obstructing or impeding a person providing medical services, a peace officer or a person assisting them. In this regard an offender is liable on summary conviction to a fine or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or to both.

The offences in section 19 were extended to hospital, ambulance and fire brigade personnel by means of section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in order to address the problem of assaults and obstruction of personnel engaged in providing emergency services, including problems relating to assaults in hospitals, particularly in Accident and Emergency departments.

In addition, in the case of an assault causing serious harm against emergency workers, an offender can be prosecuted under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 and could be subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Naturalisation Applications

 911. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the progress made to date in respect of the determination of eligibility for residency/naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16910/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The person concerned has been granted permission to remain in the State for the period to 4 September, 2015. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 4 September, 2012.

  I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that no application for a Certificate of Naturalisation has been received from the person concerned. However, it will be open to the person concerned to apply to that Division for a Certificate of Naturalisation when he is in a position to meet the lawful residency criteria applicable to the lodgement of such applications. Details on the criteria to be met by persons lodging such applications are available from my Department's website - www.justice.ie.

  Queries regarding the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Judicial Separation Legislation

 912. 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 the plans if any he has to repeal the legislation governing judicial separations in view of the statutory provisions for divorce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16920/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have no plans to repeal the legislation governing judicial separation, that is, the Judicial Separation and Family Law Act 1989 augmented by the ancillary relief provisions in the Family Law Act 1995. Under article 41.3.2.i of the Constitution the spouses must have lived apart for four of the previous five years before divorce proceedings may be initiated. In view of the length of this period, it is essential that spouses have access to the courts if they are unable to reach satisfactory separation terms between themselves, with or without the assistance of mediation and/or legal advice. Some forms of ancillary relief on marital breakdown are also not available other than in proceedings under the Family Law Act 1995, or of course under the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996.

In addition to these practical requirements to provide for appropriate settlement for spouses in advance of divorce, it is also important to recognise that there are spouses whose marriages have broken down irretrievably but who may not wish, for whatever reason, to divorce. Where this occurs but the spouses are not otherwise in agreement over the terms of separation, judicial separation under the 1989 Act and the ancillary relief provisions of the 1995 Act give them suitable access to the courts to resolve their disputes and make appropriate financial and other orders.

Question No. 913 answered with Question No. 868.

Garda Retirements

 914. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of Gardaí at detective rank that have left the force in the past five years; the measures he is taking to prevent senior detective Gardaí from leaving the force; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of Gardaí at Detective Superintendent rank and others are joining private cash-in-transit firms; if he will consider putting in a cooling period before Gardaí above a certain rank do not join security or cash-in-transit firms in the private sector before a waiting period lapses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16926/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that there is no rank of Detective in the Garda Síochána. Members of the Garda Síochána, at the ranks of Garda to Chief Superintendent inclusive, may be assigned to Detective duties by the Garda Commissioner.

  The number of Gardai who retired from the force in the last five years, by rank, is shown in the table below. The number of these who may have been assigned to detective duties is not known and the retrieval of this information would require a disproportionate use of resources relevant to the information sought.

Year
Comm’r
Deputy Comm’r
Asst Comm’r
Chief Supt
Supt
Inspector
Sergeant
Garda
Total
                   
2008
1
3
4
12
13
57
251
341
2009
3
14
27
29
181
522
776
2010
1
2
3
14
8
100
279
407
2011
3
8
23
19
109
318
480
2012
1
5
19
24
119
294
462


  There are no restrictions on the post-retirement employment of members of the Garda Síochána and there are no plans to introduce such restrictions at this time.

Residency Status

 915. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the determination of residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 can be decided on humanitarian grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16937/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the person referred to by the Deputy entered the State as a student in 2005. His current permission to remain in the State is due to expire on 26 April 2013. A full and favourable consideration will now be made on the humanitarian merits of his case.

  Queries on 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.

International Summits

 916. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he and his Department have been liaising with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding the upcoming G8 Summit taking place in June 2013 in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland; if they have requested any assistance or help with the event taking place; if any actions by his Department will be taken as a result of the summit occurring in Northern Ireland; if there are any costs involved with any operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16946/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The British Government's decision to host the G8 Summit in Enniskillen in June of this year is a very welcome one and a clear recognition of the capacity for Northern Ireland to host such a high profile, international event. Naturally, policing and security will be an important element of the planning for this event.

I have made the point repeatedly that co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI is excellent. That will continue to be the case and that relationship will make planning for the G8 Summit all the more comprehensive and effective. Of course, the House will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the detail of the policing and security arrangements for this event.

Nevertheless, officials in my Department have met with and maintain contact with their counterparts in Northern Ireland in this regard. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are in consultation with the PSNI with regard to the policing and security arrangements which are required to be put in place for the G8 Summit.

It is not possible at this stage to estimate reliably the additional costs arising in this jurisdiction.

Penalty Points System

 917. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if there is a specific legal statutory or regulatory basis that allows Garda Superintendents to cancel penalty points after fixed penalty notices have issued to members of the public; his views on whether such a practice has a legal basis; if he will cite the section of an Act of the Oireachtas or Statutory Instrument which provides for same; if this is a legitimate approach for members of the public to take when they are served with fixed penalty notices; the reason there is no mention of it on the websites of statutory bodies such as the Road Safety Authority (details supplied); if this practice of writing to Superintendents to request cancellation has a legal basis; if the advice on the RSA website will be updated to include this third option open to motorists and ensure that all members of the public are aware of same instead of a select few; and if this practice has a legal basis, where and how members of the public have been made aware of it to date. [17013/13]

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 issued by the DPP. The basis for this is the long-established non-statutory principle of prosecutorial discretion, whereby there is no obligation to prosecute in any given case. 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 (who are Superintendents), or Inspectors Acting as District Officers, and an Inspector in the Fixed Charge Processing Office, to cancel Fixed Charge Notices.

District Officers or Acting District Officers therefore have discretion to authorise cancellation in appropriate circumstances of 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.

  As the Deputy will be aware, documentation containing allegations concerning the enforcement of road traffic legislation was forwarded by my Department to the Garda Commissioner. The Commissioner appointed an Assistant Commissioner to conduct an examination and to report on the allegations. I have now received the report from the Commissioner and this report is currently under consideration within my Department. I intend to bring the report to Government at the earliest opportunity and to publish the findings thereafter.

  The website of the Road Safety Authority is not a matter for my Department.

Question No. 918 answered with Question No. 893.

Asylum Complaints Mechanism

 919. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has considered instituting an independent complaints mechanism for asylum seekers living in the direct provision system, for example through the Ombudsman's office; and if complaints relating to direct provision regarding children will fall under the remit of the Ombudsman for Children as part of the extension of her remit by the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012. [17015/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), a functional unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, is responsible for the provision of accommodation and ancillary service to protection applicants in direct provision. RIA is currently providing accommodation for 4,751 persons in 35 centres.

  Section 5 (1) (e) of the Ombudsman Act, 1980 and section 11(1) (e) of the Ombudsman for Children's Act, 2002 provide that either Ombudsman shall not investigate any action taken by or on behalf of a person in the administration of the law relating to, inter alia, asylum. Whilst there are no plans to change those legislative provisions to give either Office the power to investigate asylum related matters, INIS, including RIA, has administrative arrangements in place with both Offices to assist and provide information on matters brought to its attention. At all events, it should be noted that it was not intended that either Ombudsman would serve as a first instance appellant authority in relation to day to day administrative complaints mechanisms. It is a requirement that a person who wishes to appeal to the Ombudsman must first try to solve the problem with the public body concerned using formal local appeals mechanism.

  In relation to the broader issue of complaints by residents of direct provision centres under contract to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department, these are dealt with in accordance with the revised RIA House Rules and Procedures which are available in several languages on the RIA website at http://www.ria.gov.ie A copy of these rules and procedures is provided to all asylum seekers on arrival at their accommodation centre.

  Experience has shown that, given the nature and the number of such complaints, they are best resolved by informal discussion between residents and management at a local level. Where more serious complaints arise, residents have the right to lodge a formal written complaint with centre management and, if the issue remains unresolved, residents can take the complaint to RIA. It also allows for direct referral to RIA in certain circumstances. It is important to note that if a complaint is made in respect of a decision made by a particular RIA official, the appeal is not dealt with by that official. The complaints system contained in these House Rules is considered by RIA to be broadly in line with the guidelines set out by the Office of the Ombudsman for internal complaints systems.

  It is important to emphasise that the rules specifically state that (a) residents should not be afraid to complain when they need to and (b) making a complaint will not affect how other official agencies consider their claims to remain in the State i.e. on asylum, subsidiary protection or general leave to remain grounds.

  To give the Deputy a broader picture on these issues, I should point out that RIA already publishes on its website aggregated yearly statistics on formal written complaints made under these Rules and will also do so in its 2012 Annual Report which will be published shortly. Moreover, in an effort to provide greater transparency, in the next few months RIA will begin publishing completed inspection reports carried out in respect of each of the centres under contract to it. The Deputy might also wish to note that I have answered other Dáil Questions today (specifically 16483/13) which provide greater detail on the position of children in the Direct Provision system.

Temporary Release of Prisoners

 920. 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 the reason an inmate (details supplied) of Castlerea prison is not being released even though the Governor of the prison has cleared the prisoner for release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17032/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that no application for temporary release has been made by the person referred to.

  Should such an application be made, my officials will consider same in the normal way.


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