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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 140-159
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Support Schemes
 Header Item Home Tuition Scheme
 Header Item Teacher Training Places
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Court Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Court Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Departmental Functions
 Header Item Garda Station Refurbishment
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Home Repossessions Rate
 Header Item Departmental Legal Cases
 Header Item Cyber Security Policy
 Header Item Garda Disciplinary Proceedings
 Header Item Asylum Seeker Accommodation
 Header Item Hospitals Policy
 Header Item Medical Card Reviews

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 140-159

Schools Building Projects Status

 140. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for an extension and-or new build; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48538/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

The school authority in question has advised my Department that it is currently addressing legal matters associated with the site portfolio. When these matters have been finalised, my Department will engage further with the school authority relating to the proposed building project..

Student Support Schemes

 141. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the steps he is taking to support teachers who are working with children experiencing homelessness; and the additional supports being made available to schools in areas with cohorts of homeless families. [48551/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh A range of resources are available to support schools in dealing with identified additional educational needs, including needs which may arise for children who are experiencing homelessness.

Where staff are aware of homelessness and where it is impacting on school attendance and participation the services of TUSLA Educational Welfare Service and the support services of my own Department, in particular those of the National Educational Psychological Service are available.

Identification of Need and Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies are considered key components to supporting children who experience homelessness. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) works with schools through the DES Continuum of Support framework.  NEPS psychologists can provide advice and guidance to Principals and teachers in relation to individual students needs and in the development of whole school approaches to support inclusion, participation and integration. 

NEPS supports the role of the school in identifying individual needs and at a systems level in the development of a culture and environment which supports connectedness and provides structure and stability, key elements which underpin learning and opportunity.

DEIS is the main policy initiative of my Department to tackle educational disadvantage. DEIS Schools may use DEIS supports to meet the additional identified needs that may arise for pupils experiencing homelessness. 

In addition, as the Deputy may be aware, the Homelessness Inter-Agency Group (HIAG) was established by my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, to bring about greater coherence in the provision of homelessness related services across the relevant Government Departments and my Department is represented on this Group..

Home Tuition Scheme

 142. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the decision to withdraw home tuition can be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); if the restoration of support for home tuition in this case will be restored in circumstances in which specialist assistance is available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48552/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The policy of this Department is that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

  The greater proportion of children with ASD attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports if required.

  Some students with ASD, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there and placement in an ASD special class is an option for them.

  Special school placements are provided for other students with ASD and very complex special needs who wouldn’t manage in a mainstream school even for part of the week.

  My Department therefore provides for a continuum of provision which includes mainstream school placements with additional supports, or for pupils who require more specialist interventions, special class and special school placements.

  This facilitates access to individualised education programmes which can be supported by Special Needs Assistants and fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) as well as the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

  The use of ABA as part of the range of interventions may be particularly useful for addressing behavioural issues. My Department supports the use of ABA and training is provided for teachers in its use.

  Where students with Special Educational Needs experience difficulties, the first course of action is engagement with first level services provided by the Department of Education and Skills (National Educational Psychological Service, Special Education Support Service, National Behavioural Support Service, National Council for Special Education) and Health Services Executive (HSE)/ HSE funded services.

  If a parent of a student feels that a student is currently experiencing continuing difficulties they should request through their school a multi-disciplinary school based review involving NEPS, the local SENO and other relevant professionals.

  The local SENOs are available to advise parents in relation to supports which may be available to support children with special educational needs. The local SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

  The Home Tuition grant scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement for whom such a placement is not available. The Home Tuition grant is provided as an interim measure only, until a placement has been identified by the NCSE.

  The NCSE local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) has confirmed that a school placement is available for the child referred to by the Deputy. The grant is not available where a placement has been identified by the NCSE.

  Similarly, failure to enrol a child in a school placement at any point during the academic year will not give rise to eligibility under the scheme.

  The Home Tuition grant is not an optional alternative to a school placement.

Teacher Training Places

 143. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if circumstances (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48593/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I can confirm that my Department has received correspondence in relation to the specific circumstances referred to and a response will issue directly to the individual concerned in the coming days.   

  In October 2017, my Department announced changes in relation to the Minimum Entry Requirements for entry into primary teacher training programmes, as follows: 

  Entry 2018 - Irish: H5, English: H7/O5, Maths: H7/O6

  Entry 2019 - Irish: H4, English: H7/O4, Maths: H7/O4

  The changes took account of advice provided by the Teaching Council, who had engaged in a consultation process around a number of matters relating to entry to initial teacher education. Many of the issues identified were complex and the Council commissioned the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) to carry out research to inform its deliberation.

  Having relatively high minimum entry requirements (MERs) in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics is one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.  The 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and subsequent review identified the need to raise standards of achievement and included plans to raise the entry requirements in the core subjects over time.

  The changes to the minimum entry requirements were introduced from 2019, rather than 2018, so as not to impact students who had already commenced senior cycle and who intended sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2018.  However to have applied this criterion to undergraduate students who might wish to apply for the Professional Master of Education qualification at some time in the future would mean deferring the changes for four years or more.

  In recognition of the fact that not all applicants will meet the minimum entry requirements in Irish, English and Maths at the first attempt, there is no requirement that these minimum grades be achieved in one sitting of the Leaving Cert. Furthermore, there are a number of alternative qualifications that can take the place of the relevant Leaving Cert grade.  The list of alternative qualifications in the subject(s) concerned are outlined in the published Entry Requirements and Procedures for 2018 and available on my Department's website  (see www.education.ie ).

School Accommodation

 144. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of an application by a school (details supplied) in respect of a request to purchase a site for the building of a new school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48619/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, my Department has not received any communication from the patron or Board of Management of the school relating to the patron providing a site to construct permanent accommodation for the school. My Department is aware, through the Deputy, that the Patron has written to the Board of Management relating to the matter. My Department awaits a communication from the Board of Management in this regard..

Garda Investigations

 145. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the status of the investigations by An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions into the findings of the Flood and Mahon tribunals; the stage at which these investigations are; when a decision will be reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48478/18]

 146. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the actions and investigations being taken on foot of the Moriarty tribunal; the stage at which these investigations are; when a decision will be reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48479/18]

 147. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the status of the investigations by An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions into the findings of the Moriarty tribunal; the stage at which these investigations are; when a decision will be reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48480/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 147, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, it is the role of An Garda Síochána to investigate alleged offences, to gather whatever evidence may be available and to submit a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP, who is independent in the performance of her functions, then decides whether or not someone should be prosecuted, and for what offence, on the basis of the Garda findings, viewed against the background of common and/or statute law

I am advised by the Garda authorities that two separate investigations have been conducted by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal.

1. Investigation by CAB following referral of the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána in March 2011.

In March 2011, the Commissioner tasked CAB with examining the report with a view to identifying any criminal offences that may require investigation by An Garda Síochána. I am informed that the examination of this matter is continuing and a final report has not yet been completed. A number of interim reports have been provided to the Garda Commissioner.

With regard to the progress of the corruption investigations, enquiries have been requested in a number of other jurisdictions, the outcome of which is still awaited at this time.

2. Investigation by CAB in relation to alleged obstruction of the Moriarty Tribunal.

In July 2013, the Chairman of the Moriarty Tribunal made a complaint to the Garda Commissioner concerning alleged obstruction of the Tribunal. I am advised that this matter was fully investigated by CAB and an investigation file was submitted to the Office of the DPP, with directions received on 29 August 2017, that there be no prosecutions.

Separately, in relation to the Mahon Tribunal, I am advised by the Garda authorities that CAB completed its review of the final Mahon Tribunal Report and the report was submitted to the DPP who, on 21 February 2018, directed there be no prosecutions.

In addition, as the Deputy will be aware, the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act was signed into law on 5 June 2018 and commenced in full on 30 July. The Act introduces a number of additional offences to give better effect to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, as well as providing for some of the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.

The Act creates several new offences to strengthen the law on corruption in Ireland. New offences include:

- Offering or agreeing to accept a gift, consideration or advantage to induce another person to exert an improper influence over an act of a foreign or public official.

- Making use of confidential information obtained in the course of duties by an official in order to gain an advantage.

- Giving a gift, consideration or advantage where a person knows or reasonably ought to know that the gift will be used to facilitate a corruption offence.

- A new strict liability offence for corporate bodies whose management, employees or subsidiaries commit a corruption offence with the intention of securing an advantage for the company. It shall be a defence for the body corporate to prove they took reasonable steps to prevent this. The penalty for conviction on indictment is an unlimited fine.

The Act extends the categories of persons to whom the presumptions relating to corrupt donations will apply, to include family members and close business associates, as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal. It also creates a presumption of corrupt enrichment whereby a public official who has not declared an interest in land or other property, when obliged to do so, can be presumed to have obtained it as an inducement or reward for doing an act in relation to his or her office.

Penalties under the Act aim to be sufficiently strong to reflect the serious social and economic harm corruption can do, particularly when committed by public officials. Sentences of up to 10 years are provided for as well as unlimited fines upon conviction on indictment. The Act provides for a penalty of forfeiture of office if an Irish official is found guilty of corruption on indictment, as recommended by UNCAC. The forfeiture of office penalty will not apply where there is already a process for a position to be terminated by resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas, or where the power of removal is derived from a Constitutional power..

Court Accommodation Provision

 148. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the progress that has been made on the commitment in the National Development Plan 2018-2027 in relation to the provision of a standard county-type court facility in north County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48483/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998 management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised that Naas/North Kildare is one of a number of locations identified where there will be a requirement for additional court facilities in the future. It is included among a number of developments in relation to Courts Service accommodation requirements that are outlined in the Government's recent National Development Plan 2018 -2027. These include the following:

  - Further new or refurbished courthouses in regional cities and county towns where facilities remain substandard (including Galway City, Wicklow Town, Portlaoise, Tralee and Roscommon) and further provincial locations such as Dungloe and Tuam;

- Construction of standard county town type court facilities at a number of locations in County Dublin and also in North Kildare, Bray and Navan;

  - A nationwide condition survey of all court buildings in the estate will be undertaken to determine their condition and identify works required in relation to any issues identified and meet ongoing maintenance requirements.

  The precise allocation and timing of additional funding over the entire ten year period remains to be fully determined. It will be dependent on the outcome of further detailed planning and analysis of costs which will determine prioritisation of projects from a timing and budgetary perspective.

  The Courts Service has further advised that, as it will not be possible to provide the full range of additional facilities on the current courthouse site in Naas, the Courts Service will be exploring site options.

Court Accommodation Provision

 149. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 256 of 26 June 2018, when the promised review of the future delivery of court services in the district court area of Kilcock will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48493/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998 management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the review of the future delivery of services in Kilcock has commenced and the consultation process with stakeholders is underway at present.

The Office of Public Works has been asked to provide a Mechanical and Engineering Report in relation to the current courthouse and a full condition survey has been commissioned in relation to the buildings restorative work and compliance with disability, fire and health and safety legislation. This work is currently underway and final reports are awaited. As the Deputy is aware, Kilcock Courthouse was closed in July 2016 on health and safety grounds and District Court sittings were transferred to Naas.

The Courts Service has also informed me that it is intended to bring the Report on the Review to the Courts Service Building Committee and the Courts Service Board in early 2019..

Departmental Functions

 150. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the progress made to date in dividing his Department as per the effectiveness and renewal group for the Department of Justice and Equality report; if the newly constituted units have been formed and are operational; if the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Irish Prison Service have been separated into separate entities; if an external consultancy group or company has been engaged to advise and-or assist with this project; the costs to date of the engagement; the estimated costs for full delivery of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48496/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I wish to advise the Deputy that, in line with the recommendation of the Effectiveness and Renewal Group (ERG) in its First Report in June 2018, my Department is now aligned around two pillars, Criminal Justice, and Civil Law and Equality respectively.  Ms. Oonagh McPhillips is the Deputy Secretary with responsibility for Criminal Justice and Ms. Oonagh Buckley has recently been appointed as Deputy Secretary with responsibility for Civil Law and Equality.

The work to implement a new operating model based on functional units, also recommended by the ERG, is also underway, and an internal programme team has been put in place.  In addition,  on 21 September, a request for tender (RFT) for external specialist expertise to support the Department to plan, design and implement the model was issued with a closing date of 26 October 2018.  The tenders are currently being evaluated and it is anticipated that a contract will shortly be awarded.  A programme budget will be prepared following the award of the tender when definitive figures are available.  No costs have been incurred to date for external assistance on the Transformation Programme.

The Second Report of the ERG (September 2018) asked that the optimal structure to be adopted for a number of my Department’s large operational areas, including those referred to by the Deputy, should be examined further in the context of giving greater clarity and delineated responsibility and accountability for meeting the objectives associated with those services.  My Department is engaging with the ERG in this regard and it is anticipated that the outputs from this engagement will help inform the ERG and their Third Report which is due in December 2018.

More generally, and as indicated in the Second Report from the ERG, my Department has made good progress to date and my officials will continue to progress the Transformation Programme as a matter of the highest priority..

Garda Station Refurbishment

 151. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the Garda stations in County Kildare that have received upgrading or refurbishment in 2018; the Garda stations in County Kildare that are planned for upgrading or refurbishment works in 2019; the details of the upgrading or refurbishment works carried out or planned in 2018 and 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48506/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Deputy will appreciate that the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. This includes identifying and progressing any necessary remedial or refurbishment works required at individual stations. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for the specific information requested and when it is received I will write directly to the Deputy..

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  I refer to parliamentary question No. 151 for answer on 21 November 2018, in which you requested information on the Garda stations in Co. Kildare that have received upgrading or refurbishment in 2018; the Garda stations in Co. Kildare that are planned for upgrading or refurbishment works in 2019; the details of the upgrading or refurbishment works carried out or planned in 2018 and 2019.

    The Deputy will recall that I requested this information from the Garda Commissioner and undertook to write to you when it was available.

    As the Deputy may be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Further the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.

    I am pleased to confirm that the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 includes the provision of a Divisional property store at Naas Garda Station. The OPW has advised these works are at the preparation of planning application documents stage.

    In addition to the above Programme, I am informed that An Garda Síochána seeks to address maintenance issues including any minor refurbishment works as they arise, liaising closely with the OPW. The progression of such works is subject to the funding available and any competing accommodation priorities within An Garda Síochána.

    The Garda authorities have informed me that the OPW has advised that various works were undertaken at Garda stations in Kildare in 2018, namely

Maynooth Garda Station Public Counter and Office Refurbishment
Kildare Garda Station Repair/refurbishment of welfare facilities
Naas Garda Station Certain electrical works
Newbridge Upgrade of windows
Kilcullen Upgrade of windows




    I am further informed that the Garda authorities are working with the OPW to undertake a range of other upgrade works in the Kildare Division, details of which will be finalised having regard to the availability of OPW and An Garda Síochána funding and overall Garda accommodation priorities.

  I trust this information is of assistance.   

Crime Data

 152. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of crimes carried out against persons with disabilities; if such information is compiled and held; if An Garda Síochána has evidence or is of the view that these crimes were committed against these vulnerable persons due to their having a disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48508/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will be aware, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of all crime statistics.  However, it is my understanding that the CSO are not currently producing statistics on crimes with a discriminatory motive. 

As outlined in the Policing Plan for 2018, work is well underway within An Garda Síochána on the development of a definition of, and procedures to record, hate crimes. Once this definition is agreed, An Garda Síochána will be running a nationwide campaign to encourage the reporting of hate crimes to An Garda Síochána.

Improvements were made to the Garda PULSE system (PULSE release 6.8) in 2015 and, among the enhancements included in this release, was the introduction of a Victim Assessment Screen. This requires the mandatory recording of data relating to the apparent motive for a crime incident, such as whether it has been motivated by discrimination on specific grounds including age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

The Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office (GRIDO) has responsibility for coordinating, monitoring and advising on all aspects of policing Ireland's diverse communities. Ethnic and LGBT liaison officers in each Division also play a fundamental role in liaising with minority groups and work in partnership to encourage respect and understanding within communities and to help prevent hate and racist crime. Both the Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office and Liaison Officers provide advice and assistance to victims of hate or racist crime where required or deemed necessary..

Home Repossessions Rate

 153. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of home repossessions lending institutions applied for, by number; and the number of those that were either refused, adjourned or granted, respectively, in each of the past seven years, by court district, in tabular form. [48509/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I regret that it has not been possible to compile the requested data within the limited time available. In the circumstances, I will communicate directly with the Deputy when available information has been assembled..

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

    I refer to my reply to parliamentary question No. 153, Ref. No. 48509/2018 in which I undertook to communicate with the Deputy directly when the data requested in the parliamentary question had been compiled.

    The position is that data in relation to repossession proceedings are compiled on a county basis rather than by court district. Unfortunately, detailed repossession statistics are only available for the years 2015 onwards. In that context, please note the following three Tables.

     Table 1 shows the number of Civil Bills for Possession in respect of principal dwelling houses issued by the Courts Service broken down by county. As you will note, the number of Civil Bills issued has fallen from a figure of 4,088 in 2015 to 2,439 in 2017 – a fall of some 40%, Figures for the first half of 2018 indicate a further decline in the numbers of Civil Bills issued.

     Table 2 shows the number of Possession Orders granted in each county from 2015 onwards. Again, these figures relate to principal dwelling houses. Here too, we see a decline in numbers over the period concerned, from 918 in 2015 to 733 in 2017 – a drop of some 20%. Early figures from 2018 again suggest that these figures are continuing to decline.

     Table 3 comprises details, by county, provided by the Courts Service on the numbers of applications for Possession Orders which are either refused or struck out by the courts or which are withdrawn by the lender. You should note that these figures relate to the total number of applications not merely those relating to principal private dwellings. The figures increased substantially from 2015 to 2016 but fell even more substantially from 2016 to 2017. Early figures for 2018 indicate that the numbers are relatively consistent with those for 2017.

     An interesting point to note is that, in each of the years for which detailed data are available, the number of applications which were refused, struck out or withdrawn exceeded the number of Possession Orders granted by the Courts.

   Table 1 – Civil Bills for Possession Issued by County – 2015 to Q2 2018

County
2015
2016
2017
2018 (Q1 and Q2)
         
Carlow 75 45 30 11
Cavan 55 88 57 19
Clare 133 92 84 23
Cork 380 272 223 46
Donegal 165 106 89 25
Dublin 826 666 412 101
Galway 320 157 107 47
Kerry 86 100 73 17
Kildare 227 219 191 57
Kilkenny 116 65 75 6
Laois 51 30 51 21
Leitrim 30 37 15 10
Limerick 177 141 91 24
Longford 21 17 26 8
Louth 194 99 140 27
Mayo 105 77 55 12
Meath 172 209 232 53
Monaghan 50 49 38 9
Offaly 117 93 46 13
Roscommon 76 55 48 14
Sligo 44 42 16 13
Tipperary 187 145 95 32
Waterford 89 118 68 23
Westmeath 104 105 52 13
Wexford 136 128 94 33
Wicklow 152 107 31 10
         
TOTAL 4088 3262 2439 667
         




   Table 2 – Possession Orders Granted by County – 2015 to Q2 2018
County
2015
2016
2017
2018 (Q1 and Q2)
         
Carlow 19 19 5 2
Cavan 17 26 17 10
Clare 16 19 24 8
Cork 123 86 85 22
Donegal 31 6 11 8
Dublin 113 150 172 54
Galway 38 56 54 18
Kerry 29 15 13 4
Kildare 33 32 11 14
Kilkenny 27 11 17 19
Laois 64 27 19 14
Leitrim 10 9 4 2
Limerick 11 0 17 7
Longford 4 4 6 0
Louth 54 46 25 17
Mayo 15 42 25 10
Meath 35 67 83 12
Monaghan 16 15 8 3
Offaly 26 16 6 4
Roscommon 30 30 26 8
Sligo 3 11 5 0
Tipperary 65 53 26 7
Waterford 32 34 9 7
Westmeath 15 29 19 8
Wexford 40 12 35 16
Wicklow 52 33 11 14
         
TOTAL 918 848 733 288




  Table 3 – Applications Withdrawn Struck out or Rejected by the Courts – 2015 to Q2 2018
County
2015
2016
2017
Q1 and Q2 2018
         
Carlow 1 5 0 0
Cavan 83 68 58 25
Clare 4 44 14 0
Cork 178 163 160 82
Donegal 0 29 0 0
Dublin 419 665 437 106
Galway 48 23 0 63
Kerry 66 53 45 27
Kildare 44 39 3 1
Kilkenny 46 29 0 0
Laois 80 48 43 20
Leitrim 25 23 14 15
Limerick 0 0 8 34
Longford 21 16 1 2
Louth 18 67 19 37
Mayo 62 53 35 26
Meath 118 206 59 46
Monaghan 5 5 1 7
Offaly 1 51 8 1
Roscommon 0 35 25 8
Sligo 1 18 0 0
Tipperary 32 25 70 12
Waterford 14 37 5 0
Westmeath 88 75 48 21
Wexford 100 52 54 11
Wicklow 0 0 6 0
         
TOTAL 1454 1829 1113 544
         

Departmental Legal Cases

 154. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will waive confidentiality in relation to the legal agreement reached between the State and a person (details supplied) in relation to the civil action being taken by a person in view of the strong public interest in the proceedings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48590/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will be aware, the first-named person is a named party in a civil action initiated against the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ireland, the Attorney General and the Garda Commissioner, relating to matters which arose during his tenure as Garda Commissioner. 

In accordance with section 48 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, on the recommendation of the Acting Garda Commissioner and in accordance with normal procedures, I approved an application for the granting of State representation to the person concerned.  Prior to making a decision on the issue, I sought legal advice from the Attorney General.

It is important to note that State representation does not constitute an undertaking or grant of indemnity. Nor does the granting of representation imply that a case is being defended, rather it simply means the party is legally represented.

The decision to grant State representation was taken in July 2018, some time prior to the recent report of the Disclosures Tribunal which was published in October 2018.  Following the Tribunal’s report, all aspects of this and related civil actions are being considered in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General.

I wish to confirm that I have asked the Attorney General to advise on settlement of this and related civil actions.  However the Deputy will appreciate that at this stage, the cases concerned have not yet been settled and as such there is no legal agreement between the parties, including the persons referred to.

I wish to assure the Deputy that my priority and that of the Government is for these cases to be settled without undue delay, in the interests of the second-named person and his family..

Cyber Security Policy

 155. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the progress he has made in implementing recommendations 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs in March 2018. [48617/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Work is underway in my Department to address the recommendations relating to harmful communications online made in the Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs in March 2018. 

Harmful communications, particularly online, can cause significant damage to victims. I am aware that there are growing concerns about how quick and easy it is to engage in online harassment, online stalking or to distribute intimate images of another person with the intent to cause harm. Our laws need to ensure that the individuals can use the internet free from harm while also ensuring that freedom of expressions is not unduly interfered with.    

As the Deputy will be aware, in December 2016, the Government approved the preparation of the general scheme of a Bill to address the criminal law elements of the LRC's report. Subsequently, Deputy Brendan Howlin published a Private Member’s Bill entitled the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 which completed second stage in the Dáil in January 2018 and was not opposed by Government. The main provisions of the Bill as published include extending the existing offence of sending threatening or indecent messages to apply to all threatening, false, indecent and obscene messages using any form of online or traditional method of communications. The Bill creates new offences to deal with the distribution of intimate images without consent. The Bill also proposes extending the existing offence of harassment as contained in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997 to include all forms of communication, including through online or digital communications, and including communication about a person. This Bill will therefore deal with recommendations 15-18 of the Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults.

Cabinet agreed in May this year to cease work on the Government Bill and to support Deputy Howlin's Bill to ensure that legislation can be enacted as soon as possible. Officials in my Department have met with Labour Party officials with the intention of identifying and bringing forward any necessary Government amendments to ensure the Bill can be as effective as possible. I am currently awaiting legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General in relation to these proposed amendments and I am committed to enacting this legislation at the earliest possible opportunity..

Garda Disciplinary Proceedings

 156. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the options that are open to An Garda Síochána to suspend or otherwise remove from active duty a member of the force where there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or a dereliction of duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48626/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy will appreciate disciplinary matters including dismissal and suspension within An Garda Síochána are governed by the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, and the Garda Síochána (Discipline Regulations, 2007).

  Section 11, Subsections 1 & 2, of the Garda Síochána Act provides for the removal from office by the Government of the Garda Commissioner or Deputy Garda Commissioner for reasons which include:

  (i) failure on the part of the individual to perform the functions of the office with due diligence and effectiveness;

  (ii) the individual has engaged in conduct that brings discredit on the office;

  (iii) removal of the individual would in the opinion of the Government be in the best interests of An Garda Síochána

  Under Subsection 3 & 4 an Assistant Garda Commissioner, Chief Superintendent or Superintendent may be removed from office by the Policing Authority for reasons related solely to policing services or by the Government for other stated reasons.

  If removal from office of any of the senior ranks is being considered, the Government or the Authority may immediately suspend the individual from duty.

  Section 14 of the Act provides for the dismissal by the Commissioner, subject to the consent of the Policing Authority, for all other ranks, if the Commissioner is of the opinion that the individual's continued membership of An Garda Síochána would undermine public confidence in An Garda Síochána.

  In addition, the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007, are concerned with the maintenance of discipline in An Garda Síochána and where it is established that a member is in breach of discipline they may be subject to one of the disciplinary actions provided for in the Regulations up to and including dismissal; requirement to retire or resign as an alternative to dismissal and reduction in rank.

  The Regulations also provide that the Commissioner may suspend a member below the rank of Assistant Commissioner from duty where in the opinion of the Commissioner the circumstances make such a course of action desirable in the interests of An Garda Síochána.

  Full details of An Garda Síochána’s suspension policy is available on the Garda Website as per the following link.   https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/governance-and-accountability/internal-affairs/policy-document-on-suspension-from-duty-of-members-of-ags.pdf

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

 157. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if asylum seekers are being housed in a hotel in the Magheracloone area of south County Monaghan; if so, if he will provide details (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48646/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department has been encountering significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio over the last year or so. This pressure has increased further in the last number of months with an increase in the numbers of persons claiming international protection and a growth in the percentage of protection applicants who require assistance with accommodation.

In order to ensure that the State can continue to provide accommodation for all protection applicants and continue to comply with the EU Reception Directive which was transposed into Irish law in June of this year, RIA has, since September, arranged for the provision of emergency beds where the mainstream accommodation centres were at capacity.  RIA is also increasing the capacity of the mainstream system by opening new centres. 

In addition to this expansion, one hotel in the Magheracloone area of South Monaghan is currently providing emergency beds for protection applicants.  RIA does not have exclusive use of this hotel and it continues to operate as a commercial entity. Applicants are accommodated there for a short period before they are moved into mainstream accommodation system where they will have full access to all the services provided by  the State to protection applicants. Staff in my Department are in close contact with the management of the hotel to ensure that emergency needs are met as necessary. On the evening of the 13 November 2018 there were 87 persons residing in this Hotel. This included single males, single females and some families. Of those 87 residents, 18 were under the age of eighteen and were in the care of their parents or guardians..

Hospitals Policy

 158. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 445 of 13 November 2018, the details of the amended capital plan from 2016 to 2021 for a hospital (details supplied); when this amendment was made to the capital plan; the amount of additional funding added to the capital plan in order to cover the change in plans for these two community hospitals; the timeline for the funding to be allocated within the context of the current plan only; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48447/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly Earlier this month, the Department noted the rationale put forward by the HSE for the revisions to its capital programme and acknowledged that the matter had been considered and decided upon through the established mechanisms within the HSE. As a result, the position in relation to the two community hospitals mentioned has been amended. These two community hospitals will be redeveloped through the HSE's capital programme.

In relation to the additional funding identified by the HSE for capital investment in public residential centres for older people, it is a matter for the HSE, in the first instance to prioritise and plan projects, subject to available funding in the coming years. As outlined at the recent meeting on this issue, the HSE will now advance these plans in 2019 through the established processes. The HSE has confirmed that it intends that this process will begin in 2019, with the commencement of the design phase for both of these projects..

Medical Card Reviews

 159. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris his plans to exclude persons over 70 years of age from the medical card review process in view of the fact that their income is unlikely to change and in some cases they find it extremely difficult to gather the information required due to age related difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48462/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Persons over 70 years of age do not have automatic eligibility for a medical card, however, under the Health (Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) (No. 2) Act 2013, they do have a simplified application process where, when a person attains the age of 70, the medical card income limits are €500 gross income per week for a single person and €900 gross income per week for a couple.  Medical Cards, including those issued to persons over the age of 70, are subject to periodic review to determine if the person still meets the eligibility criteria.  This is part of the normal oversight function of the HSE and there are no plans to change this process for persons aged over 70 years of age.

Where a notice of Review of a Medical Card has been initiated it is important to note that this is provided 3 months in advance of the date of expiry. This is to afford individuals an extensive time period to provide any required documentation. Furthermore, it is important to clarify that during the review process persons will continue to hold eligibility.  Any person who is experiencing difficulties providing particular information within this period should contact the HSE as the card’s validity may be extended when the review is continuing..


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