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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 442-464
 Header Item Household Charge Collection
 Header Item Household Charge Collection
 Header Item Air Pollution
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Provision
 Header Item Water Services Funding
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item RAPID Programme
 Header Item Local Authority Housing Mortgages
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Road Traffic Legislation
 Header Item Courts Service Properties
 Header Item Immigrant Investor Programme
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 803 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 442-464

Household Charge Collection

 442. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide the numbers in tabular form by county who have paid the household charge on each of these dates, 31 December 2012, 31 January 2013, 28 February 2013, 31 March 2013 and 30 April 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22691/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the Household Charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date is liable to pay the Household Charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. It is a matter for an owner of a residential property to determine liability and pay the Charge. The Local Government Management Agency is administering the Household Charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils.

  The following table details the properties registered for the Household Charge, including waiver registrations, by local authority area on 31 December 2012, 31 January 2013, 28 February 2013, 31 March 2013 and on 30 April 2013. I am advised by the Agency that due to relatively low volumes, waiver details are not automatically extracted on a daily basis and the numbers of waivers cannot be retrospectively generated once a date has passed. Therefore, in assembling the table, the figure for the number of waivers for some dates has been estimated by the Agency using the closest available date for which waiver figures are recorded. Given the low number of waivers as a proportion of the total number of properties registered, the impact on the data in the table is minimal.   

County/City Council Properties Registered

31/12/2012
Properties Registered

31/1/2013
Properties Registered

28/2/2013
Properties Registered

31/3/2013
Properties Registered

30/4/2013
Carlow 12,431 12,876 13,110 13,267 13,636
Cavan 17,483 17,891 18,147 18,338 18,735
Clare 33,570 34,200 34,915 35,461 36,231
Cork City 28,452 28,751 29,001 29,392 30,301
Cork County 95,653 97,914 99,224 100,852 103,674
Donegal 37,292 38,429 39,652 40,221 41,616
Dublin City 139,856 141,425 142,126 143,744 146,992
Dún Laoghaire

-Rathdown
63,842 64,421 64,674 65,082 65,878
Fingal 63,068 64,115 64,673 65,720 67,518
Galway City 21,024 21,279 21,451 21,655 22,059
Galway County 41,990 43,592 44,695 45,264 46,537
Kerry 43,909 44,502 45,025 45,422 46,417
Kildare 46,612 47,522 47,979 48,679 50,090
Kilkenny 21,927 22,574 22,830 23,079 23,547
Laois 16,670 17,135 17,415 17,624 18,022
Leitrim 9,258 9,484 9,618 9,773 10,035
Limerick City 14,293 14,423 14,580 14,858 15,245
Limerick County 32,180 32,874 33,235 33,716 34,543
Longford 9,066 9,344 9,574 9,712 9,956
Louth 25,776 26,419 26,743 27,091 27,682
Mayo 39,391 40,837 41,535 41,909 42,536
Meath 39,239 40,044 40,520 41,074 42,135
Monaghan 14,023 14,397 14,519 14,710 14,892
North Tipperary 18,293 18,627 18,836 19,128 19,419
Offaly 15,736 16,058 16,426 16,680 17,197
Roscommon 16,593 17,530 18,003 18,228 18,620
Sligo 18,311 18,988 19,274 19,501 19,963
South Dublin 53,227 54,000 54,424 55,395 57,217
South Tipperary 21,027 21,467 21,699 21,951 22,472
Waterford City 10,774 10,942 11,037 11,163 11,474
Waterford County 16,677 16,984 17,204 17,446 17,902
Westmeath 20,670 21,011 21,215 21,433 22,024
Wexford 37,168 38,079 38,736 39,233 40,109
Wicklow 32,357 32,834 33,161 33,524 34,209

Household Charge Collection

 443. 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 on a local authority basis, the number of persons that have paid the household charge since 26 April 2013. [22711/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the Household Charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date is liable to pay the Household Charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. It is a matter for an owner of a residential property to determine liability and pay the Charge. The Local Government Management Agency is administering the Household Charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils.   

  The following table, based on data provided by the Agency, details the total number of properties registered , including waiver registrations, for the Household Charge since 26 April 2013 (inclusive) by local authority area, as of 13 May 2013.   

County/City Council Registered since 26 April 2013
Carlow 378
Cavan 462
Clare 784
Cork City 1,352
Cork County 3,620
Donegal 1,794
Dublin City 3,301
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown 811
Fingal 1,749
Galway City 422
Galway County 1,187
Kerry 957
Kildare 1,437
Kilkenny 562
Laois 524
Leitrim 349
Limerick City 276
Limerick County 855
Longford 252
Louth 716
Mayo 613
Meath 1,052
Monaghan 277
North Tipperary 336
Offaly 568
Roscommon 430
Sligo 449
South Dublin 1,944
South Tipperary 526
Waterford City 354
Waterford County 492
Westmeath 544
Wexford 934
Wicklow 752

Air Pollution

 444. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan with reference to the Air Pollution Act, if he will update Dáil Éireann on the impact of the new regulations on activity in the black market; if he will advise businesses that legitimately operate in this sector whose customer bases have heretofore been drawn from within and outside of the restricted area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22760/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 326 of 2012), which were given effect following a public consultation process, provide for a ban on the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of bituminous (or "smoky") fuel inside specified ban areas. The Regulations introduced some improved and updated provisions that will help to ensure that the smoky coal ban remains fit for purpose in safeguarding air quality by limiting harmful emissions of air pollutants arising from the use of residential fuels.  These are as follows:   

- most existing smoky coal ban area boundaries were revised to take recent urban development into account;

- seven new towns were added to the ban from May 2013 - Greystones, Letterkenny, Mullingar, Navan, Newbridge, Portlaoise and Wicklow Town; and

- a prohibition on the burning of bituminous fuel to complement the established ban on marketing, sale and distribution. 

  The single focus of the previous regulations on prohibiting the sale, as distinct from the burning, of "smoky" coal meant that the burning of such coal inside ban areas undermined the intent and purpose of the ban and the supply of such fuel was known to be facilitated by businesses that had established premises just outside ban area boundaries to serve ban area residents as their main market. The revised boundaries and prohibition on the burning of smoky coal inside ban areas support the effectiveness of the ban in the areas concerned by restricting such activities and hence closing the loophole. These updated provisions were broadly welcomed by the EPA, local authorities and the import and supply industry, on the basis that they provide for more effective legislation. My Department continues to meet regularly with the EPA, local authorities and the industry representatives to discuss the ongoing implementation and enforcement of the Regulations.

  In the case of new towns that were added to the ban, a lead-in period of eight months was provided to allow local authorities and fuel retailers time to adapt as necessary to the new regulatory requirements in preparation for the switch-over to smokeless fuels. Following the inclusion of these areas, the smoky coal ban applies in all towns with a population greater than 15,000 people. This provides for greater consistency in urban air quality standards throughout the State by extending the cleaner air benefits of the ban to all large towns.

  The Regulations also require that all smoky coal sold outside ban areas for residential use outside those areas must have a sulphur content of no more than 0.7%.  This compares to a maximum permitted sulphur content of 2% for bituminous coal sold in Northern Ireland. Coal bagging operators and certain solid fuel suppliers trading in smoky coal must demonstrate the compliance of their product with the 0.7% sulphur limit and be registered with the EPA. The National Standards Authority of Ireland has prepared an annual traceability audit system, known as SWiFT 7, for demonstrating compliance. All retailers who trade in smoky coal must ensure that their suppliers are registered with the EPA and must hold a record to this effect with their supplier's registration number.

  Despite these regulatory improvements, I recognise that different standards applying to coal between separate jurisdictions presents a continuing challenge for enforcement. On 6 May I announced that a joint North-South study is being commissioned to examine air pollution from residential smoky coal and to consider the potential policy options to reduce such emissions. A closer alignment of solid fuel policy and legislation on an all-island basis would aid enforcement, eliminate unfair competitive advantage, protect air quality and allow the benefits derived from the ban to potentially be further extended.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

 445. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of personnel in whole-time equivalent terms in his Department and in bodies under the aegis of his Department in each of the following earnings brackets: less than €20,000, €20,001 to €30,000, €30,001 to €40,000, €40,001 to €50,000, €50,001 to €60,000, €60,001 to €70,000, €70,001 to €80,000, €80,001 to €90,000, €90,001 to €100,000, €100,000 to €125,000, €125,001 to €150,000, €150,001 to €175,000, €175,001 to €200,000, €200,001 to €250,000, €250,001 to €300,000, €300,001 to €350,000, €350,001 to €400,000, €400,001 to €450,000, €450,001 to €500,000, and more than €500,000. [22788/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The information requested in respect of my Department is set out in the following table.   

Salary Range Number of Staff WTE*
> €500,000 0.00
€450,001 - €500,000 0.00
€400,001 - €450,000 0.00
€350,001 - €400,000 0.00
€300,001 - €350,000 0.00
€250,001 - €300,000 0.00
€200,001 - €250,000 0.00
€175,001 - €200,000 1.00**
€150,000 - €175,000 0.00
€125,001 - €150,000 7.00
€100,001 - €125,000 16.00
€90,001 - €100,000 44.00
€80,001 - €90,000 52.00
€70,001 - €80,000 103.00
€60,001 - €70,000 32.20
€50,001 - €60,000 172.46
€40,001 - €50,000 155.10
€30,001 - €40,000 120.16
€20,001 - €30,000 64.95
< €20,000 11.25


* Denotes whole time equivalent.   

** The current salary of the Secretary General of my Department is €215,590 per annum. In line with the general Government policy of a €200,000 pay ceiling for senior positions across the Public Service, she has voluntarily waived salary in excess of the €200,000 pay ceiling under Section 483 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.   

  The information requested in respect of bodies under the aegis of my Department is set out in the following table.
Salary Range Number of Staff WTE*
> €500,000 0.00
€450,001 - €500,000 0.00
€400,001 - €450,000 0.00
€350,001 - €400,000 0.00
€300,001 - €350,000 0.00
€250,001 - €300,000 0.00
€200,001 - €250,000 0.00
€175,001 - €200,000 1.00
€150,001 - €175,000 1.00
€125,001 - €150,000 9.00
€100,001 - €125,000 23.00
€90,001 - €100,000 8.00
€80,001 - €90,000 73.00
€70,001 - €80,000 53.00
€60,001 - €70,000 140.00
€50,001 - €60,000 160.00
€40,001 - €50,000 98.00
€30,001 - €40,000 89.00
€20,001 - €30,000 50.00
< €20,000 4.00


* Denotes whole time equivalent.

Local Authority Housing Provision

 446. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of local authorities together with the number of grant applications made for works in lieu of housing in 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22831/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Improvement Works in Lieu (IWIL) scheme allows local authorities to improve or extend privately owned accommodation which is occupied or intended to be occupied by an applicant approved for social housing as an alternative to the provision of social housing. Under my Department's Social Housing Investment Programme, capital funding is provided to housing authorities in respect of the IWIL scheme and for the provision of necessary adaptations or extensions to properties to meet the needs of tenants with a disability. In 2013 over €2.4 million has been allocated to housing authorities for this purpose. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on applications and the specific level of funding to be directed to each of these measures out of the allocations provided.   

  Data in relation to local authority housing stock, including completion figures for the IWIL programme funded by the Department, are available on my Department’s website, www.environ.ie. Data for the first quarter of 2013 will be available shortly.

Water Services Funding

 447. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the allocation for County Laois under the 2013 rural water programme; the way these funds are to be used; when the allocation will be confirmed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22833/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. The selection and approval of individual scheme proposals for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocations provided, is therefore a matter for the water services authorities.

  The following table sets out the total capital block grant allocations notified in March 2013 to Laois County Council under the 2013 Rural Water Programme.

County Council Group Water Schemes Small Public Schemes Pilot Group Sewerage Scheme
Laois County Council €596,500 €187,500 €35,301

(Derrymoyle)


Funding will also be available to Laois County Council for drawdown from the Local Government Fund for subsidies towards the operational costs of group water schemes. Such funding is provided on a demand led basis rather than by way of block grant allocations.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Provision

 448. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when tenders will be approved for a group sewerage scheme project (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22834/13]

 449. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when tenders will be approved for a group sewerage scheme project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22835/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 448 and 449 together.

  The Laois Grouped Town Sewerage Scheme - Wastewater Treatment Plants DBO and Networks – are included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010–2013 as contracts to start during the period of the programme. The tender approval report in respect of the contract to design, build and operate sewerage plants as part of the Scheme was recently submitted to my Department by Laois County Council. It is currently under examination and a reply will issue to the Council as soon as the examination is complete.

  In relation to the network improvements, I understand that Laois County Council is currently examining tenders for this work. Once these have been examined, I expect the Council to submit a tender report to my Department for consideration.

Departmental Expenditure

 450. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the individual amount of overtime paid in the case of each political-ministerial appointee for the period 2007 to date in 2013 relative to his office and the office of the Minister of State; if such payments were made to the Secretary General and advisers, and if so, the amounts for the same period. [22874/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The information requested is set out in the following tables. Ministerial appointees include those holding the positions of Special Adviser, Press Officer, Personal Assistant, Personal Secretary or Civilian Driver during the tenure of the relevant Minister or Minister of State. That information is set out in the first table. Details of overtime paid to relevant staff appointed by each Minister from 2007 to date is contained in the second table.   

Minister Appointee Amount of overtime paid
Phil Hogan Personal Assistant * €15,026.70
Phil Hogan Personal Secretary €782.49
John Gormley Personal Assistant €3,002.68
John Gormley Personal Secretary €110.10
Dick Roche Personal Secretary €4,391.98
* Acting as Press and Information Officer.   

 
Minister of State Appointee Amount of overtime paid
Jan O'Sullivan Personal Assistant €11,272.64
Jan O'Sullivan Personal Secretary €9,994.42
Willie Penrose Personal Assistant €1,359.05
Willie Penrose Personal Secretary €4,235.68
Michael Finneran Personal Secretary €10,882.44
Noel Ahern Personal Assistant €1,140.78


  Secretaries General, Special Advisers and Civilian Drivers do not receive overtime payments.

Local Authority Staff Remuneration

 451. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will list all the city and county managers of city and county local authorities serving at present; the salary of each manager currently serving; the names of retired city and county managers and the terms they served from 1996 to 2012; their respective retiring salaries and their annual pension figure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22887/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Water and Sewerage Schemes Funding

 452. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if funding will be advanced to Sligo County Council to proceed with the construction of a waste water treatment facility at Mullaghmore, County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22914/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Sligo. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of over €49 million in County Sligo during the period of the Programme. However, the Mullaghmore Sewerage Scheme was not amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion in the current Programme.

The Programme aims to prioritise projects that target environmental compliance issues and support economic and employment growth. A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Sligo County Council, in response to my Department's request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in the Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that are more strategically important at this time.

Progress under the Water Services Investment Programme 2010 – 2013 was reviewed in mid-2011 and through this process, consideration was given to any newly emerging priority contracts and schemes submitted by local authorities for addition to the Programme. No proposal for the Mullaghmore Sewerage Scheme was received from Sligo County Council in response to the review.

Planning Issues

 453. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will direct local authorities to include provision for easier fibre rollout in their development plans via a policy of the provision of ducting in road, water and sewer infrastructure networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22921/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Section 10(2)(b) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, requires a development plan to include objectives for the provision or facilitation of the provision of infrastructure including, inter alia, communication facilities. This requirement ensures that planning authorities' development plans can provide policies, for example, to facilitate the delivery and roll-out of broadband infrastructure in line with the Government's National Broadband Plan, published by my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in August, 2012.    

Furthermore, Section 11(3) requires a planning authority to take whatever measures it considers necessary to consult with the providers of, inter alia, telecommunications in order to ascertain any long-term plans for the provision of infrastructure and services in the area of the planning authority.   

  I have, therefore, no plans to direct local authorities as proposed.

RAPID Programme

 454. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of meetings organised since March 2011 at national level between his Department and the chairs and co-ordinators of the RAPID teams; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23003/13]

 455. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the dates on which the RAPID national co-ordinating committee has met since he was appointed Minister; if he has attended these meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23004/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I propose to take Questions Nos. 454 and 455 together.

The National Monitoring Committee for the RAPID programme met on 6 October 2010. My Department last met with RAPID Chairs and Coordinators at a conference in February 2012 as part of an extensive consultation process in the context of the development of local government reform proposals.  As part of my continuing engagement with both the local development and local government sectors, I have met with many of the Chairs and Coordinators at different times and in various fora.  No meeting of the National Monitoring Committee is scheduled at present. However in implementing local government reform decisions, my Department will continue to consult as necessary with the relevant stakeholders, including local authorities, Local Development Companies, RAPID Area Implementation Teams and others.

My Department will continue , as far as possible, to ensure that RAPID areas are prioritised under social inclusion measures in 2013 and beyond.

Local Authority Housing Mortgages

 456. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the arrangements that are in place in each local authority to assist those that have fallen into arrears with their mortgage or other loans; if interest only or deferred payments or other options are offered to borrowers; the number of repossessions obtained or being considered by local authorities in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23033/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Government is acutely conscious of the difficulties many households are facing in terms of mortgage arrears. Where any borrower, either from a local authority or from a private financial institution, is facing difficulties in meeting mortgage repayments, they should engage proactively and constructively with the lender to seek to achieve an agreed solution. The services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service are also available to such borrowers and support is available through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

  Local authorities have long been the lenders of last resort servicing the housing loans needs of less affluent members of society. In the present economic circumstances it is to be anticipated that the ability of some borrowers to service housing loans may become restricted and that a number of loans may fall into arrears. Section 34 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides local authorities with powers to deal flexibly with distressed borrowers, and they have demonstrated sensitivity over the years in dealing with such cases. In March 2010 my Department issued guidelines to local authorities, based upon the Central Bank's first Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, which continued the tradition of handling arrears in a manner that is sympathetic to the needs of the particular household, while also protecting the position of the local authority concerned.

To reflect the content of the Central Bank's revised Code of Conduct – which replaced the previous code from 1 January 2011 and was informed by the deliberations of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt – my Department issued updated guidance in June 2012 to local authorities in consultation with the County and City Managers Association. This will further enable local authorities to provide a range of flexible repayment options for households in difficulty. In particular, the introduction of a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP), which closely mirrors the suite of options available in the commercial sector, presents borrowers in difficulty with a range of alternative payment agreements, including those referred to in the Question, which can be accessed to ease the particular circumstances of each case. This process features a standard set of options including, in cases of certain unsustainable mortgages, the facility of mortgage-to-rent. Local authorities have been restructuring loans for some time using their own internal practices. The introduction of these revised guidelines standardises the approach across the whole sector, introduces a systematic structure to this area and provides borrowers with a transparent and accessible model for arrears resolution.

  Regarding the level of repossessions in the last three years, my Department publishes a wide range of housing statistics which can be found at www.environ.ie.  The total numbers of forced and voluntary repossessions obtained by local authorities in 2010, 2011 and 2012 are set out in the following table.

- 2010 2011 2012
Forced 16 54 73
Voluntary 73 49 64

Immigration Status

 457. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the opportunities for appeal or reconsideration of an application, either within his Department or through the courts, that exist for a person (details supplied) who has been issued with a deportation order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22151/13]

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 (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned arrived in the State on 8th November 2003 as a short-term visitor. He was subsequently granted leave to remain until 28th May 2005. He has remained in the State since that date without the permission of the Minister and is therefore unlawfully present in the State. Following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his case under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, a Deportation Order was signed on 21st March 2013. On foot of that Order he is required to leave the State and if he fails to so leave he will be deported.

Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, provides that in certain circumstances a Deportation Order may be revoked. However, any such application has to be on the basis of substantial and significant new information which was not available for consideration when the original decision to deport was made. It is noted that in this instance that the Order was made less than 8 weeks ago.

Queries in relation to 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.

Naturalisation Applications

 458. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason for the delay in making a determination in the naturalisation application of a person (details supplied); and when a decision is likely as they have supplied all required documents. [22164/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by 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 August, 2012. The application is being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. As well as being a significant event in the life of its recipient, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation as provided for in law is also a major step for the State 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.

I can advise the Deputy that there is a very ambitious target in place to process 70% of all standard non-complex cases within six months of receipt of applications. 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. As a result there will always be a proportion of cases that take longer than the norm to process.

Queries in relation to 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.

Road Traffic Legislation

 459. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the Road Traffic Acts apply and are enforced in areas controlled by certain commercial State companies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22283/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that road traffic legislation is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the enforcement aspects of the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the report is to hand.

Courts Service Properties

 460. 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 will outline what he envisages the future of the Green Street Courthouse will be, following the moving of the Special Criminal Court to the Criminal Courts of Justice in recent years; if he considers retaining the site in view of the role it has played in Irish history; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22288/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the maintenance and provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that Green Street Courthouse is in the ownership of the Courts Service and that the building is in daily use for office accommodation and is regularly used for meetings and conferences. There are no plans at present to dispose of the building. The courtroom in the building is available for court sittings if required. In recognition of its history and character, the building has been made available from time to time for theatrical performances, tours and filming.

Immigrant Investor Programme

 461. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline the facilities for acquiring visas or citizenship for persons from outside the EU who want to invest here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22320/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Immigrant Investor Programme was approved by Government in early 2012 and has been accepting applications since April 2012. The Programme offers residency in Ireland to foreign national investors who commit to approved investment options. Full details of the Immigrant Investor Programme are available from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service web pages - www.inis.gov.ie. Ireland does not offer citizenship in return for investment. The naturalisation process is outlined in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, and applies to all foreign nationals who wish to become Irish citizens.

For the Deputy's information, to date the total investment committed under both Programmes is of the order of €10.5 million and that it is projected that 270 jobs will be retained or created on foot of these investments in the ICT, recycling and financial services areas. In addition, two organisations, one educational and the other a charity, are receiving substantial endowments to support and develop their activities.

Road Traffic Offences

 462. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of drivers that have been summoned to court for failure to pay a fixed charge penalty notice within 56 days of receipt of the notice. [22335/13]

 463. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of drivers, who following failure to pay a fixed charge penalty notice within a period of 56 days of receipt of the notice were consequently summoned to court; and if these drivers received double the original number of penalty points on conviction in court in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 2010. [22336/13]

 464. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of drivers who received a fine in substitution for additional penalty points being imposed on their record following a failure to pay a fixed charge penalty notice within 56 days of receipt of the notice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22337/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 462 to 464, inclusive, together.

  The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the following table provides details of the number of defendants summonsed to appear before the court in 2011 and 2012 and convicted for failure to pay a fixed charge penalty notice within 56 days of receipt of the notice.



Year


No. of defendants summonsed to appear


No. of defendants convicted


2012


53,927


10,863


2011


51,462


9,563


  Note: These figures do not include penalty point offences which require mandatory court appearances. They refer to summonses issued for courts dates in the years in question, rather than the date on which the summons issued.

  Road traffic legislation, which is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, provides that if the fixed penalty notice is paid the driver is liable for the penalty points attaching to the offence. If the driver does not pay the fixed penalty notice and the case goes before the court, the number of penalty points is automatically doubled in the event of a conviction. I am informed that when a conviction is recorded in court, the Courts Service electronically provides the Road Safety Authority with details of such convictions. It is then the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority to ensure that the appropriate penalty points are recorded. There is no provision in the legislation to allow for a fine in place of penalty points.


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