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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 307-315
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Garda Transport Provision
 Header Item Garda Strength
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Garda Reserve
 Header Item Garda Recruitment
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Residency Permits

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. 307-315

Visa Applications

 307. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his views of the short-stay visa waiver scheme allowing visitors here, from 16 emerging tourism markets, to travel around the rest of the island without the need for an additional visa application; if he recognises the potential that a reciprocal approach would have in opening up our tourism industry to new markets; his view of the British Government’s position of preventing the introduction of a similar scheme and if he intends to work towards the introduction of a single visa scheme for visitors to the island of Ireland. [40242/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Irish Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, which was devised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, commenced on 1 July, 2011 and was originally scheduled to run on a pilot basis until the end of October, 2012. It allows tourists or business people who have lawfully entered the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a valid UK visa to travel on to Ireland without the requirement to obtain an Irish visa.

Nationals of sixteen countries are currently included in the programme including India, China, Russia, various priority Middle East countries and others. A review of the Programme was conducted in January this year with a view to submitting to Government a report on its progress and recommendations on extension of the programme in terms of duration and of countries covered. The Government decided on 12 March to extend the Programme for a further period of four years i.e. to end October 2016 in the light, particularly, of the positive response from tourism agencies and operators.

The Programme as it operates at present does not for technical reasons allow for reciprocity between the UK and Ireland. This is primarily due to the UK requirement that all visa applicants supply fingerprint (biometrics) data electronically as an essential element of applying for a UK visa. Quite obviously Ireland does not have the capacity to capture such data for all visa applications worldwide; currently for UK visas this is done in over 150 countries.

However, in tandem with the Visa Waiver Programme, work is ongoing, through the regular Common Travel Area Forum meetings between INIS and the UK Home Office, on the development of a short stay Common Travel Area visa which would allow tourists and business visitors to travel to the CTA and to travel freely between Ireland and the UK.

A number of legal and logistical issues are being addressed including the requirement for biometric data capture. It is anticipated that such a visa will prove an attractive option for tourists and business visitors and a trial period will be used to gauge likely demand. Such a visa will supersede the Visa Waiver Programme.

Garda Investigations

 308. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when the report regarding a particular series of events which took place after the conviction of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will be completed; and when it is scheduled to be published. [40279/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the matter referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. The Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Garda Transport Provision

 309. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to provide funding to purchase additional vehicles for the Garda traffic corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40298/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The provision and allocation of Garda resources, including transport, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner in the light of his operational requirements.

  I am advised by the Garda authorities that a new contract for the provision of Garda cars has recently been put in place following a tender process organised by the National Procurement Service. In addition, I can confirm that a number of new vehicles have been ordered and this is a matter which will be further pursued by the Garda authorities with reference to their identified policing needs and the availability of financial resources. In that overall context the requirements of the Traffic Corps will be taken into account.

Garda Strength

 310. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of Garda sergeants and inspector vacancies currently in the Garda R&J districts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40299/12]

 319. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of permanent vacancies in An Garda Síochána broken down by division and rank; the number of these which are temporarily occupied; the date on which they will all be filled. [40506/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 310 and 319 together.

  As of the 31 August 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, there were 13,531 Gardaí, just over 1,000 Reserve Gardaí and over 2,000 civilian staff in the Garda Síochána. With the exception of recruitment to the Garda Reserve which is of a voluntary nature, the moratorium on recruitment still applies to the Garda Síochána.

  The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

  While regulations have previously provided for the numbers permitted in each rank, these have been upper ceilings for those numbers, rather than target strengths, and are set at a national rather than local level. It is therefore not generally practical to indicate precise levels of vacancies at the different ranks in specific locations. The attached sheet shows the allocation of Gardaí by rank in each Garda Division and District throughout the country.

The table is available as attachment Q310.xls at the top of the web page.

Road Traffic Offences

 311. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the last time the fees to get a vehicle released after being seized by An Garda Síochána were increased; his plans to increase same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40300/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that the charges referred to by the Deputy are currently provided for under the Road Traffic Act 1994 (Detention of Vehicles) Regulations 2011. These Regulations fall within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and I understand that they came into operation on 15 September 2011.

Garda Reserve

 312. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to put in place a rank structure for the Garda Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40310/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides for the establishment of the Garda Reserve. The first intake to the Garda Reserve in Templemore Garda College was on 30 September 2006. Members of the Garda Reserve provide invaluable services to the organisation and its current strength is now just over 1,000.

I would like to place on record my appreciation of the members of the Reserve who give their time on a voluntary basis and for their ongoing commitment to the Garda Síochána. The Garda Reserve is a rank in its own right and there are no plans to change its structure within An Garda Síochána.

Garda Recruitment

 313. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans for a new recruitment drive for An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40311/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, public expenditure must be reduced to a sustainable level. This means, among other things, reducing expenditure on public service pay, whether by reducing headcount or otherwise. This is particularly so in those public service bodies where pay forms an especially large part of overall expenditure, such as the Garda Síochána where 90% of expenditure is on pay and pensions.

The current and projected Garda budgets will necessitate a significant reduction in Garda expenditure. This will undoubtedly require further reductions in Garda numbers. This has been well known for some time, dating right back to when the last Government was in office and the question of exact level of the reductions required will depend on the potential for alternative savings which could mitigate the scale of the reduction in head count required. In this context, the Department of Justice and Equality is engaging in consultation with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on this matter and it would not be appropriate to comment further on this at this point in time.

Garda Deployment

 314. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of active Gardaí at the moment and a breakdown per county on the numbers of the Gardaí in each area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40312/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of the 31 August 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, there were 13,531 Gardaí, just over 1000 Reserve Gardaí and over 2,000 civilian staff in the Garda Síochána. A breakdown of Garda strength in each Garda Division is in the table attached. The Deputy will note that some Garda Divisions cover two counties and in some counties there is more than one Garda Division. The figures in this table refer to assigned strengths and do not include national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations or the Garda National Drugs Unit.

  The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

The table is available as attachment Q314.xls at the top of the web page.

Residency Permits

 315. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will grant a person (details supplied) whose Stamp 4 expired on 3 September, a temporary stamp pending the outcome of their application to renew it in order that they can return to their job; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40323/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy lodged an application for a permanent residence card (EU3) on 3rd September 2012 under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008.

  Regulation 16 of the Regulations provides that a non-EEA national family member of a Union citizen who, by virtue of the Regulations, is entitled to remain permanently in the State may, before the expiration date of the residence card issued to him or her, apply for a permanent residence card. In this case the person in question lodged the application on the same day as expiry of the Stamp 4.

  Applicants for a permanent residence card (EU3) are advised that due to the large volume of applications it can take up to 6 months for a decision to be reached. Furthermore, all applications are dealt with strictly in chronological order of the date of receipt. I am advised that the application of the person concerned is due to come up for initial processing next week, at which time a consideration of the provision of a temporary stamp for the application period will be undertaken.

  I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.


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