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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 196-203
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Domestic Violence Policy
 Header Item Magdalene Laundries Fund
 Header Item Magdalene Laundries Fund
 Header Item Disability Act Employment Targets
 Header Item Garda Corruption
 Header Item Civil Bills
 Header Item Prison Accommodation Costs

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 804 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 196-203

Citizenship Applications

 196. Deputy Damien English Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when a decision will issue on an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; the reason for the delay in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24597/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in October, 2008.

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

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

  Queries 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.

Domestic Violence Policy

 197. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will consider the implementation of a domestic violence offenders register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24600/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter A proposal for the development of a register of domestic violence offenders would require careful consideration. One consideration would be as to whether disclosure of information would be restricted to criminal convictions of violence only or would include information on domestic violence orders made under the civil law Domestic Violence Acts 1996 and 2007. As domestic violence orders are made by the courts "in camera", the release of information on the perpetrator would have implications for the privacy of victims.

The implications of the Data Protection Act, 1988 on the possible disclosure of information would also need to be considered, especially in the case of civil orders for which the evidential test is lower than for criminal proofs.

Full consideration of what additional protection such registers might afford over what is presently available would be required. Information from such registers as are available internationally at present vary widely. They are in the main quite restrictive and limited to police personnel. They operate best to identify perpetrators of violence who move between police jurisdictions, as in the United States and the United Kingdom. Ireland is unusual internationally in operating a police force which has a national jurisdiction. Information from the Garda Síochána PULSE system is readily available to all Gardaí attending domestic violence situations.

I also understand that, it is standard practice for An Garda Síochána to act immediately in situations where they have information that a person is at risk and in need of protection.

At present provisions of the Sex Offenders Act, 2001 may apply to convicted sex offenders who have committed an offence within a domestic situation. Under the 2001 Act, information is not made available to the general public but may be made available on a limited "need-to-know" basis in particular cases.

In addition a "Monitoring" or "Protection" Order may be made under Section 26 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007 in relation to serious offences under the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act, 1997 (causing serious harm, threats to kill or cause serious harm, and false imprisonment).

Magdalene Laundries Fund

 198. 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 date by which Mr. Justice Quirke will report back to him with recommendations regarding the Magdalene Laundries Fund and accompanying matters. [24601/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Mr Justice Quirke was invited in February to submit his report within three months. He has not indicated a date by which he will submit his report

Magdalene Laundries Fund

 199. 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 his attention has been drawn to the elderly Magdalene Laundries surviving women living in the US seeking to meet with Mr. Justice Quirke who due to ill health and or financial restraints have been unable to travel and in such instances have been told that they can only be accommodated if they are in a position to travel to Dublin at their own cost; the actions he will take to facilitate these women in providing them with an opportunity to set out their experience to Mr. Justice Quirke. [24602/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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 Mr Justice Quirke to decide independently how he carries out his examination.

  No decision on any matter will be made until after the Government has received the recommendations of Judge Quirke and made a decision on how best to implement a scheme but it is intended to apply to all women who were in Magdalen laundries even if they no longer reside in the State.

Disability Act Employment Targets

 200. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the target of his Department and subsidiary offices throughout the country regarding employment of persons with disabilities in the special category; whether the target is being achieved; the total number of employees in that category currently and the percentage of the total workforce in his Department that it represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [24618/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 provides for a statutory target, currently set at 3%, for the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector. My Department annually compiles data relating to the number of staff who have a disability. For the year ending 2012 a total of 122 staff indicated that they had a disability. This represented 5.93% of staff working in my Department.

Garda Corruption

 201. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his views on allegations contained in correspondence (details supplied) sent to all Deputies alleging wrongdoing in County Mayo. [24679/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am aware of the allegations contained in the correspondence referred to by the Deputy.

  The correspondence in question was received in my Department recently and has been forwarded to the Garda Commissioner for his attention. I am informed however by the Garda authorities that these allegations were previously made to the District Officer at Belmullet in December 2011 and that enquiries conducted into the allegations found no evidence of alcohol being distributed to members of the Garda Síochána by or on behalf of the company named.

Civil Bills

 202. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has any concerns regarding the validity of civil bills issued where the Court Services facilitated the stamping of blank documents which were subsequently used in the issuance of civil bills and where the stamping date pre-dates the incidents referred to in the civil bill; his views on the validity of such civil bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24713/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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. However, in order to be of assistance I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service and have been informed that Circuit Court Rules (Order 11) provide for the stamping of Civil Bills before they are issued for service. There is no time limit set out in the rules for the period between the stamping of and the issuing of the Bills. I am informed by the Courts Service that in order to ensure consistency of practice it directed that blank documents should no longer be stamped from January 2010 and the practice has ceased in all court offices. The Service has indicated that the change in practice was introduced from a governance perspective relating to the management of stamping fees and did not arise due to any question as to the validity of Civil Bills stamped in advance in the manner referred to by the Deputy.   

Prison Accommodation Costs

 203. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the estimated cost of every person imprisoned in a jail here on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. [24716/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy may wish to note that the average cost of an available, staffed prison space is published annually in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report. The most recent figures which are available are contained in the 2012 Annual Report which is available on the Prison Service's website www.irishprisons.ie.

  The average cost of an available, staffed prison space during the calendar year 2012 was €65,404, a small increase on the 2011 figure of €65,359. This equates to €5,450.33 per month and €1,257.76 per week.

  Consistent with calculations in previous years, costs which are not under the direct control of the Irish Prison Service have been excluded. Capital expenditure, including building/equipment assets and small works, is excluded from the calculations in the interest of facilitating comparison between prison types.


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