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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 419-434
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Referendum on Marriage Equality
 Header Item Prosecution of Sexual Offences
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Judicial Appointments
 Header Item Traveller Community Issues
 Header Item Asylum Policy
 Header Item UN Conventions Ratification
 Header Item Disabilities Services Funding
 Header Item Asylum Policy
 Header Item Asylum Policy

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 810 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 419-434

Garda Investigations

 419. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any criminal investigation is ongoing into events at Irish Nationwide Building Society, including the activity of the former head of the institution.  [33088/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Garda authorities that the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is not at present conducting a criminal investigation into the institution referred to by the Deputy, but the Deputy will appreciate that any investigations being carried out by regulatory bodies would not be a matter for my Department. The Deputy will also appreciate that it would not be normal practice to confirm whether a particular individual is currently the subject of a Garda investigation.

Crime Data

 420. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the crime statistics for the Garda J and R districts for 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33105/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Referendum on Marriage Equality

 421. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will support marriage equality and a date for a referendum. [33130/13]

 422. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when a referendum on the issue of marriage equality will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33144/13]

 430. 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 when he proposes to bring forward a referendum to deal with marriage equality.  [33367/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 421, 422 and 430 together.

I am aware that the Convention on the Constitution published its third report, on its recommendation in relation to amending the Constitution to provide for same-sex marriage, on 2 July 2013. Following receipt of the Convention's reports by the Oireachtas, the Government has four months in which to respond to any recommendations in them, including saying whether it intends to hold a referendum on the matter, and, if so, giving a timeframe for the referendum. The referendum and its timing will be considered as part of the overall consideration by the Government of the third report.

Prosecution of Sexual Offences

 423. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter how he intends to address the issue of access to therapy notes relating to children who have been sexually abused and the use of information contained therein in the context of criminal prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32597/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is my intention that this issue will be addressed in the forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill, which is at an advanced stage of preparation in my Department.

Naturalisation Applications

 424. 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 if he will expedite an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33156/13]

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 were received from the person referred to by the Deputy in January 2013. 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.

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.

Garda Operations

 425. 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 if he will report on Garda Operation Wallet; the number of persons charged and arrested under this operation to date; and the number of successful convictions obtained to date.  [33178/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the report is to hand.

Garda Operations

 426. 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 if he will report on Garda Operation Momentum; the amount of drugs seized under the operation to date; the number of persons arrested to date; and the number of successful convictions obtained to date.  [33179/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to this matter and I will further advise the Deputy in this regard when the report is to hand.

Judicial Appointments

 427. 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 every judicial appointment made in 2013 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33186/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that, under the Constitution, judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Government. Applications are dealt with by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board established pursuant to the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995. Details of the nominations made in each Court in 2013 are set out in the following table. These nominees will be formally appointed by the President before the end of July.

Name Position
Mary N. EnrightSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
Verona LambeSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
William G. LysterSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
Patrick MeghenSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
Mary O'Malley CostelloSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
Susan RyanSpecialist Judge of the Circuit Court
Anthony BarrJudge of the High Court
David KeaneJudge of the High Court
Sinéad Ní ChúlacháinJudge of the District Court
James FaughnanJudge of the District Court


  In addition, in 2013 the Government nominated Mr. Anthony Collins, SC for appointment as Ireland's representative on the European General Court. Appointments to the European General Court are made by common accord of the Governments of the Member States for a term of six years.

Traveller Community Issues

 428. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to introduce legislation that will provide for the recognition of Traveller ethnicity; if he will provide an update and a timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33317/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I would like to inform the Deputy that serious consideration is being given to this issue which remains ongoing, with a view to ensuring that full analysis of all aspects of the granting of ethnic status to Travellers is available to Government when coming to a decision on the matter. I would like to remind the house that Travellers in Ireland have the same civil and political rights as other citizens under the Constitution. The key anti-discrimination measures, the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977, the Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts specifically identify Travellers by name as a group protected. The Equality Act 2004, which transposed the EU Racial Equality Directive, applied all the protections of that Directive across all of the nine grounds contained in the legislation, including the Traveller community ground.

All the protections afforded to ethnic minorities in EU directives and international conventions apply to Travellers because the Irish legislation giving effect to those international instruments explicitly protects Travellers.

Asylum Policy

 429. 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 when and why the decision was taken for Ireland not to participate in the recast asylum procedures directive, which was successfully negotiated under his chairmanship; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33321/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The decision not to participate in the recast Asylum Procedures Directive was taken in September 2011. That decision was informed by the fact that, had we decided to opt in to the measure, we could have faced the very real possibility of being bound by an outcome which would have been contrary to our fundamental interests in relation to the national asylum system. Several elements of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive were identified as being particularly problematic aspects for the national asylum system at the time.

Article 20 of the 2005 Asylum Procedures Directive, which Ireland participates in, provides for the procedure in the case of implicit withdrawal or abandonment of the application. At present, the Article provides that such an application be subject to a decision to discontinue the examination or to reject the application on the basis that the applicant has not established an entitlement to protection. It is the latter option which is applied under the Irish system, with a recommendation that the Minister refuse to give the applicant a declaration that he or she is a refugee and with no appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. In the proposal to recast the Procedures Directive, the Commission proposed that the option to refuse the application could only be taken on the basis of an adequate examination of its substance and further to a personal interview. The amended proposal did provide for the possibility of a time limit of at least one year after which the case can no longer be reopened or a new application may be treated as a subsequent application. However, the opinion at the time was that this amended Article would be unacceptable from an asylum policy perspective as it could result in a carousel of applications.

Additionally, Article 23 of the 2005 Asylum Procedures Directive obliges Member States to ensure that the examination procedure is concluded as soon as possible. In its proposed recast, the Commission proposed that Member States would ensure that the examination procedure was concluded within 6 months after the date the application is lodged, with a possible extension of a further 6 months in certain circumstances. The opinion at the time was that these time limits could impose additional burdens on the national asylum system if there was a large increase in the number of applications to be examined in the State, especially considering previous increases in the period 2001 to 2003.

It should be noted that the provisions of the Protocol on the position of Ireland and the United Kingdom in respect of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, annexed to the TEU and the TFEU apply. In accordance with Article 1, 2 and Article 4a(1) of the Protocol, Ireland did not participate in the adoption of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive and is not subject to its application. However, this is without prejudice to Article 4 of the Protocol under which Ireland may at any time after the adoption of a measure by the Council notify its intention to the Council and the Commission that it wishes to opt-in to the measure.

As the instruments comprising the second phase of the Common European Asylum System have recently been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the question of opting-in to the recast Procedures Directive and the other measures that comprise the CEAS can be kept under ongoing review having regard to the possibilities I refer to under the Protocol on the position of Ireland and the United Kingdom. I might add that any decision in this regard would have to take into consideration the operation of the Common Travel Area which we share with the United Kingdom.

  Question No. 430 answered with Question No. 421.

UN Conventions Ratification

 431. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when he will sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  [33370/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is the Government's intention to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are being met. As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland does not become party to treaties until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by the treaty in question, including by amending domestic law as necessary.

The ongoing implementation of our National Disability Strategy in many respects comprehends many of the provisions of the Convention. In addition, the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Convention monitors the remaining legislative and administrative actions required to enable ratification. The Committee has identified as part of its work programme, issues to be considered by various Government Departments. It is a matter for those Departments to determine whether any actions are required in relation to these issues in advance of ratification and report back to the Committee. This work is ongoing in all Departments. At the Committee's request, the National Disability Authority, the lead statutory agency for the sector, is in the process of assisting it to assess the remaining requirements for ratification so as to ensure conclusively that all such issues will be addressed.

As regards my Department one of the key requirements is the enactment of capacity legislation. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce a Bill that is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Assisted Decision - Making (Capacity) Bill will provide a series of options to support people with impaired capacity to make decisions and to exercise their basic rights, in line with the principles of the UN Convention. It will undertake a comprehensive reform of existing legislation governing legal capacity. Subject to approval of Government, the Assisted Decision - Making (Capacity) Bill is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Disabilities Services Funding

 432. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if funding will be provided for disability service (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33429/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The role of my Department is to provide a focal point for co-ordination of disability policy, it does not have a role in the provision of funding for services for people with disabilities. It is my understanding that the Deputy has also raised this matter with the Department of Health and that they have referred the matter to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Asylum Policy

 433. 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 number of persons who have been detained following a refusal of leave to land here in 2011, 2012 and the first six months of 2013; their length of detention, place of detention, their nationality and if they were subsequently removed from the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33440/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In the time available it has not been possible to obtain the information requested by the Deputy. I will write to the Deputy in due course on the matters raised.

Asylum Policy

 434. 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 number of persons, and the nationality of those persons, who, in 2011, 2012 and the first six months of 2013, after attempting to enter here, have been transferred or returned to the UK by the Irish authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33441/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to persons who applied for asylum in this State and were subsequently returned to the UK in accordance with the relevant Regulations. Applications for asylum are examined by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC). In some cases, following ORAC's examination it transpires that individuals have previously made asylum applications or have been granted visas in the United Kingdom. Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of the Dublin II Regulation the individuals concerned should be transferred to the United Kingdom to have their asylum applications fully examined in that country. Consequently, a Transfer Order is made in respect of those individuals and this places an obligation on them to 'present' him/her self at the Offices of the Garda National Immigration Bureau where arrangements are made for their formal transfer to the United Kingdom.

Persons from over forty nationalities are represented in the overall figures. In 2011 a total of 125 Transfer Orders were made with the top nationalities being Pakistan, Nigeria, DR Congo, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. In 2012, a total of 60 persons were transferred with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Somalia and Sudan representing the highest number of persons by nationality. Up to 30 June this year, a total of 40 persons were transferred to the UK with Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya and Libya comprising the top nationalities.

The Dublin II Regulation, (Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003), is intended to prevent the phenomenon of 'asylum shopping' across Europe and sets out criteria for determining which Regulation State is responsible for examining an asylum application where applications have been lodged in more than one Regulation State or whereby an asylum seeker has been granted a visa to enter another Regulation State and has entered that other State before entering Ireland and making an asylum application here. At the same time, it guarantees applicants that one State will process their application, thereby preventing the creation of 'refugees in orbit', a situation which had previously pertained in Europe.


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