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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 198-208
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Family Reunification Applications
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Legal Aid Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Defence Forces Medals
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Horse Racing Industry Development

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 818 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 198-208

Visa Applications

 198. 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 and when favourable consideration will be given in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45478/13]

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 of my Department that the Visa application referred to by the Deputy was lodged at the Irish Visa Office in Abuja on 10 October 2013 and is currently being assessed. The long term or permanent nature of the intended stay in Ireland in this case means that it will require more in-depth consideration than straightforward short-stay visa applications. If further documentation and/or clarification of any matter related to the application is required, we will be in touch with the applicant at that time. Otherwise, the applicant will receive a letter informing him of the decision on his application in due course.

Queries in relation to general immigration matters 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.

Residency Permits

 199. 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 current and expected status of residency and-or eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45479/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The person concerned has current permission to remain in the State up to 21st December, 2013. The person concerned has applied for the renewal of this permission to remain. This application will be considered in the near future. Once a decision has been made in this application, this decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned. I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that no application for a Certificate of Naturalisation has been received from the person concerned.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department 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

 200. 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 a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose stamp 4 was recently updated is eligible to apply for naturalisation on the basis of their status to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45480/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Officials in the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question.

  Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are that the applicant must:

- be of full age;

- be of good character;

- have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years;

- intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation;

- have, before a judge of the District Court in open court, in a citizenship ceremony or in such manner as the Minister, for special reasons, allows—

- (i) made a declaration, in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and

- (ii) undertaken to faithfully observe the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values.

  A foreign national who is married to, or is the Civil Partner of, an Irish citizen for at least three years may apply for naturalisation under section 15A of the Irish Naturalisation and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, where they have been continuously resident in the island of Ireland for the year immediately prior to the date of their application and for two out of the four years prior to that year. The marriage or civil partnership must be subsisting and recognised under Irish law. Section 15A provides that the Minister may waive certain conditions for naturalisation if satisfied that the applicant would suffer serious consequences in respect of his or her bodily integrity or liberty if not granted Irish citizenship.

  Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, waive some or all of the statutory conditions in certain circumstances i.e. where an applicant is of Irish descent or of Irish associations; where an applicant is a person who is a refugee within the meaning of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; or where an applicant is a Stateless person within the meaning of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless persons. It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

  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.

Visa Applications

 201. 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 a person (details supplied) in County Kildare qualifies for the necessary visa to enter this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45481/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The visa application referred to by the Deputy has been created online but the supporting documents have not, to date, been lodged with the Embassy, which is necessary in order to have it processed. Once lodged, a Visa Officer will assess the application and supporting documents and make a determination about this case. Each visa application is considered on its individual merits, the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the Visa Officer as to why the visa should be granted.

Comprehensive information on the visa application process is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie). It should be borne in mind however that the information contained on the website is intended to act as a guideline only. It does not limit the discretion of the Visa Officer in dealing with individual applications.

Queries in relation to general immigration matters 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.

Family Reunification Applications

 202. 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 further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 258 of 15 October, No. 437 of 25 June 2013 and No. 154 of 19 September 2013, in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15, if the entire case will be reviewed in view of the circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45482/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I refer the Deputy to my previous answers to PQs No. 437 of 25 June, 2013 and 154 of 19 September 2013 and 258 of 15 October 2013.

I can confirm that officials from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department have reviewed this matter and it appears there are a number of discrepancies between the information provided in the details supplied by the Deputy and the information on file. I will arrange for a detailed letter to issue shortly to the Deputy in relation to this matter.

Residency Permits

 203. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 539 of 19 February 2013, the extent to which it has been found possible to review the entire basis on which the original decision to refuse residency status on the basis of conclusions reached in the course of that determination in the context of a report pursuant to section 13(1) of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended, was reached, with particular reference to conclusions reached under paragraphs 3.3(II) and (III) in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45483/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The decision referred to by the Deputy was the subject of an appeal and subsequent recommendation by the appellate body which upheld the original decision. Therefore the question of a further review as suggested by the Deputy does not arise.

Legal Aid Eligibility

 204. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the criteria to qualify for free legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45511/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that the detailed information requested is available on my Department's website at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Courts_policy_and_Legal_services.

Departmental Expenditure

 205. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the expenditure adjustment that will be made within his Department in 2014; the full-year impact of expenditure measures that will be taken in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45588/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The further expenditure adjustment for my Departments Vote - Vote 24 Justice and Equality - in 2014 will be almost €15.9 million. The full year impact of the expenditure measures will be in the region of €19.6 million with a proportion of the adjustment already reflected in the Revised Estimates for 2013. There are other smaller technical adjustments to reflect transfer of responsibility for certain services with other votes.

Defence Forces Medals

 206. Deputy John Halligan Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter following on from the plan in 2006 to issue replacement certificates to the families of the military veterans of 1916 and the War of Independence, his plans to issue replacement medals to the families of those servicemen prior to the celebration of the 100-year anniversary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45473/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The position is that my Department receives requests from time to time for the replacement of lost, stolen or destroyed medals awarded to veterans of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. In relation to such requests, it has been settled policy for many years that replacement medals were issued on a once-off only basis on receipt of a bona-fide request from the veteran to whom the original medals were awarded. This policy was adopted in the interest of preserving the intrinsic value of the medals and to strictly limit the number of medals issued in any particular case.

  Although all of the veterans are now deceased, the rationale for restricting the issue of replacement medals is still valid. Apart from the intrinsic value of the medals, their monetary value on the open market is also a factor. Since 2006 the approach has been that where 1916 Rising/War of Independence medals had been lost, stolen or destroyed, official certificates (in both Irish and English) would be issued in such cases confirming that the relevant medal(s) was/were awarded to the named veteran. Where any such case arises, the relative of the veteran can complete an application form available from the Pensions Administration Section of the Department of Defence and, if in order, the relevant certificate/s will be issued.

  I have no plans to change the current arrangements.

Departmental Expenditure

 207. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the expenditure adjustment that will be made within his Department in 2014; the full-year impact of expenditure measures that will be taken in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45583/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As part of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) process, my Department engaged in a systematic examination of all elements of Defence expenditure. Following engagement with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the ceilings for expenditure within the Defence Sector were set out for the 2012-2014 period. These ceilings were based on a rigorous assessment of pay, non-pay and pension elements of the Defence Sector Votes (Defence and Army Pensions). The Current expenditure provision for the Defence Sector in 2014 is €890m.

This represents a reduction of €2m on the 2013 CRE ceiling, after adjustments, and follows on from significant reductions achieved over previous years. These reductions were achieved through a series of measures, which included a stabilisation of the strength of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) at 9,500, a re-organisation of the Defence Forces into a two Brigade structure and a rationalisation and consolidation of my Department's property portfolio. Achieving the required savings in 2014 will be a challenge; however, it is envisaged that cost containment and control measures across the Defence Vote, together with careful evaluation and management of Defence Forces procurement, will deliver current expenditure savings of €2m in 2014. As set out in the 2013 Expenditure Report the Capital Envelope for 2014 will be €8m. This is a reduction of €1m, which will be achieved through prioritisation of building works to improve accommodation and facilities for the Defence Forces.

I have been assured by the Chief of Staff that despite reductions in funding, the Defence Forces continue to have the capability to deliver on all roles assigned by Government.

Horse Racing Industry Development

 208. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on the recent publication commissioned by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Analysis of the Economic Impact of the Irish Thoroughbred Industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45535/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I welcome the publication of an 'Analysis of the Economic Impact of the Irish thoroughbred Industry, October 2013'. This detailed analysis of the thoroughbred industry, commissioned by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, is a very useful piece of research for anybody with an interest in the sector.

I am acutely aware of the importance of the thoroughbred sector to the Irish economy and its pre-eminent position on the world stage as a global leader in the bloodstock industry. Indeed next week, I will be travelling on a major trade mission to the Gulf States, and the promotion of the Irish thoroughbred sector will be a major feature of the visit. I note that the ITBA Report estimates the industry contributed €1.1bn in economic output and supported 14,000 jobs in 2012. The Report identifies challenges facing the industry and suggests a range of actions aimed at securing the future of the industry.

The ITBA Report raises the issue of the taxation of betting and possible changes to the rate of VAT to be charged on horses. Earlier this year, my colleague, the Minister for Finance, introduced the Betting (Amendment) Bill 2013 which is aimed at updating the system of taxation applying to the betting industry. The Minister for Finance will also address the issue of VAT on horses through the Finance Bill.

The ITBA Report also raises issues with regard to prize money and the importance of the establishment of overseas markets. Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), a commercial state body established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001 and representing key sectors of the thoroughbred industry, is responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the industry. Decisions regarding prize money fall within the remit of HRI. Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) is a subsidiary of HRI. It is funded by HRI and by the Irish bloodstock industry, including breeders, sales companies and stallion farms. ITM provides service and support to overseas visitors interested in the Irish thoroughbred racing and breeding industry. The principal focus of ITM is to generate inward investment and to increase export sales of Irish bloodstock.

Successive Governments have recognised the importance of the horse industry for our country, and have supported it through legislation and policy initiatives. Infrastructural supports are provided to the industry through various measures operated by my Department. This commitment to investment has enabled Ireland to develop into a world centre of excellence for horse racing and breeding. The Deputy is aware that of my personal commitment to this indigenous Irish industry. Since taking office I have taken an active interest in the industry and I commissioned an independent review of the industry in 2012. Officials in my Department are currently preparing legislative proposals aimed at giving effect to the recommendations contained in the Indecon report on the Irish Horse Racing Industry (2012) which I plan to bring before the Cabinet for approval as soon as possible.


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