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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 291-306
 Header Item Public Sector Allowances Review
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item House Prices
 Header Item Thatching Grants Eligibility
 Header Item Rural Development Programme Projects
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Housing Statistics
 Header Item Election Management System
 Header Item Garda Stations Refurbishment
 Header Item Personal Insolvency Act
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Deportation Orders Data
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Organised Crime
 Header Item Citizenship Applications

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 775 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 291-306

Public Sector Allowances Review

 291. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if local authority staff including city and county managers who are working for the Local Government Management Agency are paid an income separate to and in addition to their salaries; and if so, the amount of same; if local authority staff, including city and county managers, receive expenses for their work with the Local Government Management Agency; and if so, the amount of same; the number of hours per week local authority staff, including city and county manager are expected to contribute to the working of the Local Government Management Agency. [40458/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan A small number of local authority employees are seconded from local authorities to work for the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA). In such cases local authorities pay the employees directly and salary costs are recouped from the LGMA. There is no extra cost attached to this arrangement.

From time to time, local authority employees contribute to the work of the LGMA as members of project boards, working groups, membership of the Board or membership of the City and County Managers Association. The number of hours contributed by each employee would vary accordingly.

These employees do not receive expenses but may submit claims in respect of travel and subsistence expenses necessarily incurred as part of their official duties in accordance with the relevant travel and subsistence circulars.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 292. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he has received correspondence from Kerry County Council regarding its concerns about the reduction in the Housing Capital Allowance 2012 and in particular funding for single rural dwellings and if he has issued a reply. [40511/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan This year I allocated some €8.643 million to Kerry County Council in respect of the various measures supported under my Department’s Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP) . I recently allocated a further € 420,000 to the Council for the construction of three rural houses over the period 2012 – 2014. Having regard to the high level of commitments under the SHIP at this time, I am not in a position to approve the additional funding requested by the Council on 19 September.

House Prices

 293. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan further to Parliamentary Question No 1100 of 18 September 2012, the actual cost of producing the average house price series. [40530/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan A statistician is assigned to my Department’s Planning and Housing Division to deal with a wide range of issues including the compilation of relevant indices of activity and outputs, of which the house price series is one . The increment of the officer’s time involved would not be significant.

Thatching Grants Eligibility

 294. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if there is a residency requirement for applicants to his Department for thatching grants; the date on which he introduced the requirement for residency; if there are exceptions to this requirement such as offshore islands and houses in particularly isolated areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40547/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Under my Department’s grant scheme for the renewal or repair of thatched roofs a grant of up to € 3,810 or two thirds of the approved cost, whichever is the lesser, may be payable in respect of necessary works to renew or repair the thatched roofs of houses. A higher grant of up to €5,714 may be payable where the house is situated on certain specified islands off the West and South coasts. In the case of medical card holders, a grant of up to €6,350, or up to 80% of the approved cost, may be payable in respect of houses situated on the mainland, rising to €8,252 where the house is situated on a specified off-shore island.

It is a condition of the grant scheme, which was introduced in 2001, that the house is occupied as the applicant’s normal place of residence on completion of the approved works, irrespective of location.

Rural Development Programme Projects

 295. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when he will issue approval in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40548/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Cavan Monaghan LEADER is the Local Action Group contracted by my Department to deliver the Rural Development Programme (RDP) in the Cavan Monaghan Area. The Local Action Group is the principal decision maker   in regard to project approval , and this process is carried out in the context of a detailed regulatory framework and a comprehensive set of operating rules.    Cavan Monaghan LEADER have confirmed to my Department that they have now completed the assessment process and have issued an offer of funding to the promoter in question.   

Departmental Staff Data

 296. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department still grants leave of absence; and if not, the reason this is not considered as a neutral cost saving exercise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40595/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan A number of special leave schemes, including career breaks, are available to officials in my Department. The details are on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. My Department considers any application made by staff on its merits, subject to the exigencies of the service.

Housing Statistics

 297. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of dependents listed on applications for social housing in the State broken down by local authority. [40605/12]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing and planning statistics that inform the preparation and evaluation of policy, and those data are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie. While we do not collate the exact number of dependents listed on applications for social housing, the 2011 assessment of housing need, which is broken down by local authority, is available on the website and provides an analysis of household structure broken down by relationship status and number of children.

Election Management System

 298. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he intends to ensure that local authorities take measures to engage people on the live register to work as polling clerks and count centre staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40636/12]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The primary role of my Department in electoral matters is to provide an appropriate policy and legislative framework for a modern and efficient electoral system. Within that framework, local returning officers are responsible for all matters in connection with the actual conduct of elections and referendums, including the selection, appointment and training of polling station and count staff in accordance with the relevant provisions of electoral law.

To assist returning officers, my Department issues guidance to them in advance of each election and referendum. The guidance emphasises that the smooth conduct of polls is dependent on maintaining a cadre of sufficiently skilled and experienced people. Having regard to that overall objective, returning officers are advised to employ competent and efficient persons as polling staff and asked to give consideration, where possible, to employing suitable persons who are unemployed.

Garda Stations Refurbishment

 299. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if works due to be completed by the end of August at a Garda Station (details supplied) in County Cork have been finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40529/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation around the country is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána. The programme is advanced by the Garda authorities working in close co-operation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that current maintenance works at the station referred to by the Deputy are expected to be completed before the end of September.

Personal Insolvency Act

 300. Deputy Olivia Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the professions who may act as personal insolvency practitioners under the Personal Insolvency legislation; if his attention has been drawn to concerns among many professions such as financial brokers that these functions might be confined to the legal and accountancy professions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40733/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 1265 of 18 September, 2012 in which I said that the precise details in regard to the regulation of personal insolvency practitioners require further consideration in the final development of the Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 in consultation with the Department of Finance, the Central Bank and relevant professional bodies. I will be bringing forward detailed proposals by way of amendments to the Bill during its passage through the Oireachtas. I can assure the Deputy that no decisions have been taken as to who may be licensed as personal insolvency practitioners.

Services for People with Disabilities

 301. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to have Irish sign language recognised as an official language here; if not, the reason for same, when it is so widely used here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40081/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The Programme for Government commits to examine different mechanisms to promote the recognition of Irish Sign Language. My Department in consultation with the National Disability Authority is examining options and is consulting with relevant stakeholders.

Citizenship Applications

 302. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the average processing time for de facto relationship visas in view of the fact that all required documentation is submitted with the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40082/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that de facto relationship applications are dealt with in strict chronological order of receipt. The processing time for an application will vary as it is dependent on the complexity of the case and supporting relevant documentation being submitted to the INIS. In addition a number of standard verification checks are carried out. At present the average processing time for de facto applications is three months. In more complex cases processing of an application can take up to 12 months - although this is a rare occurrence.

If the Deputy has a particular case in mind it is open to him to contact INIS directly 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.

Deportation Orders Data

 303. 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 he will reconsider a deportation order issued in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40166/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The person concerned was granted temporary permission to remain in the State under stamp 4 conditions for an initial one year period on 10 June, 2002, on the basis that she was part of a family unit where the parents had been granted residency on the basis of parentage of an Irish citizen child. This permission appears to have been renewed on a regular basis by her local Immigration Officer until March 2010. I am informed that when she attended the registration office of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in May 2010, she was advised to contact my officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) regarding same. However it appears that the next contact from the person concerned was in March 2012 when she presented to her local Immigration Officer. She was refused registration on this occasion as she has been out of permission since March 2010. The local Immigration Officer advised her to write to INIS outlining her situation prior to renewal of registration. I am informed that she was given this direction by him on 26 August 2012. To date no communication has been received from her by INIS. I would advise the person concerned to write to my officials at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, PO Box 10003, Dublin 1, with a formal request to regularise her status in the State. On receipt of this request, her case will then be examined by the relevant officials in INIS. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned. I am informed that the person concerned is not the subject of a deportation order.

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.

Citizenship Applications

 304. 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 in respect to an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare, if any of their residency was deemed to be for study purposes; if same will be taken into account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40186/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State on the basis of family dependency on 20 April, 2011. This permission is currently valid until 18 January, 2014. Officials in the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to. 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.

  Section 15 of that Act 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;

- 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.

  In the context of naturalisation, certain periods of residence in the State are excluded. These include:

- periods of residence in respect of which an applicant does not have permission to remain in the State;

- periods granted for the purposes of study;

- periods granted for the purposes of seeking recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act, 1996.

  The on-line Naturalisation Residency Calculator can be used as a guide to whether an individual satisfies the naturalisation residency conditions and, if not, give an indication of how long they should wait before making an application.

  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.

Organised Crime

 305. 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 his views on the recent activity surrounding a high profile funeral in (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40212/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that these so-called 'dissident republicans' are no more than criminal terrorists using violence in pursuit of their own, often personal, ends. They also maintain more than just a nodding acquaintance with organised criminals in funding themselves and their activities. Indeed, these paramilitaries are deeply involved in criminal activities. Countering the threat from terrorists has always been a priority for the Garda Síochána and nothing has changed in that regard. Despite the positive developments there have been in recent years in the North, the Gardaí have never let up in their efforts to counteract these groups.

In relation to the incident raised by the Deputy, it must be accepted that the Garda members present, in taking appropriate operational decisions had, above all else, a particular responsibility to ensure the safety of the public in what was a crowded environment. The possibility that there may have been an effort to provoke the Gardai into taking action with a view to generating public disorder and greater publicity for those involved cannot be discounted.

As I said in responses to Parliamentary Questions on this matter last week, the Garda Commissioner has set up a dedicated operation, “Operation Ambience”. As a result, over 30 searches were conducted of various locations in Dublin and surrounding counties and a substantial number of arrests were also made. Three people have been charged with membership of an unlawful organisation under the Offences Against the State Act and Garda inquiries into the matter are ongoing.

I am strongly committed to ensure that the Gardaí have the necessary resources they need, not just in terms of manpower and equipment, but also in terms of legislative provisions, to bear down on these paramilitary groups. I am also committed to making sure that there is seamless cooperation between the security services North and South in dealing with the threat. That is exactly what is happening.

Citizenship Applications

 306. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when a decision will issue on applications for naturalisation lodged by persons (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in processing the applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40236/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that valid applications for a certificate of naturalisation were received from the persons referred to by the Deputy in December 2007.

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

  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.


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