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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 466-476
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Visa Agreements
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Increment Payments
 Header Item Garda Stations Refurbishment
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 466-476

Naturalisation Applications

 466. 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 marriage to an Irish citizen affects an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56248/12]

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.

  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 Agreements

 467. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if those on stamp 4 visas (details supplied) are exempt from paying the €300 fee to renew a Garda ID; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56276/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I would draw the attention of the Deputy to S.I. No. 444 of 2012, Immigration Act 2004 (Registration Certificate Fee) Regulations 2012, which sets out in Regulation 4 those classes of person in respect of which the registration certificate fee of €300 is waived. These classes of person include:

- UN Convention Refugees;

- Family members of such refugees who have been admitted to the State in accordance with section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996;

- Persons who are under 18 years of age at the time of registration;

- Spouses, civil partners, widows and widowers of Irish citizens;

- Spouses and Dependants of EU nationals who receive a residence permit under EU Directive 38/04;

- Programme Refugees, as defined by section 24 of the Refugee Act, 1996;

- Persons subject to arrangements for victims of human trafficking.

  In circumstances where the person is uncertain whether they come within the waiver or not, his or her local registration officer will be in a position to clarify the matter.

Visa Applications

 468. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will expedite an application for an entry visa in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56277/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that a decision has issued in respect of the visa application referred to and the applicant has been advised of same.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be directed 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.

Naturalisation Applications

 469. Deputy John O'Mahony Information on John O'Mahony Zoom on John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter in the wake of the unanimous judgement by the Supreme Court in a case (details supplied) regarding an application by a Syrian national for naturalisation and where it was found that he had failed to give reasons for refusal to grant a naturalisation certificate, his views on whether there is the same obligation on him to provide a reason or reasons for the refusal to grant asylum to asylum seekers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56330/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can inform the Deputy that, insofar as asylum seekers are concerned, the Refugee Act 1996 provides that the reports of both the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal are transmitted directly to the asylum seeker and their solicitor following a refusal to grant asylum.

Garda Stations Closures

 470. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will itemise the amount of money saved, in tabular form, from the closure of each of the following Garda stations in County Tipperary (details supplied); if he has asked the Garda Commissioner to put other measures in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56340/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote and I have been informed by the Garda authorities that financial cost statements are maintained at District Headquarters level rather than at Garda station level. In the circumstances the Deputy will appreciate that the specific financial information he has sought is not readily available and I understand that the provision of such information would involve a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources which are required for other purposes.

However, I have also been advised by the Garda authorities that the annual financial saving estimated to arise in respect of the closure of the stations referred to by the Deputy is Euro 4,000 per station. To a large extent these estimates relate to heating and lighting costs and they do not take account of specific repair bills, which will vary from premises to premises.

As the Deputy will be aware, the closure of the stations has been proposed by the Garda Commissioner in his Policing Plan for 2013 and I would stress that the key objective involved is to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than to secure modest cash savings. In this context the Commissioner has concluded in relation to certain stations that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if the stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained. In making his recommendations on the closure of Garda stations, the Commissioner reviewed all aspects of An Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations. In addition, the Commissioner has given a commitment that where a station is to be closed local Garda management will consult with local communities on the alternative policing arrangements to be put in place in their area.

Furthermore, the Garda Commissioner has indicated he is confident that the implementation of the restructuring proposals contained in the 2013 Policing Plan will not lead to any diminution in the service provided by An Garda Síochána. In that regard he has stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country.

Garda Stations Closures

 471. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the impact of his decision to close a further 100 Garda stations in tackling the problem of sale and supply of laundered, illegal or counterfeit products such as diesel, tobacco and clothing; his view on the resources available to the Gardaí, to tackle this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56341/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2013, which I laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 5th December 2012, sets out details of the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country, the future opening hours of other stations in Cork and Dublin and a number of District amalgamations. It is important to remember that while some Garda stations are listed for revised opening hours from 24 hour stations, they will remain as functioning Garda stations on a 24 hour basis. The full list of these details is available in the Policing Plan which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

In drawing up the policing plan, the Commissioner concluded that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front-line if particular stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained or if the public opening hours of other stations could be reduced at off-peak times. In making that decision he has reiterated the commitment of An Garda Síochána to providing a professional and effective service to all communities.

An Garda Síochána continue to work closely with the Revenue Customs Service, who play the lead role in combating cigarette smuggling, fuel laundering and counterfeit goods. Together, they continue to make significant efforts to disrupt the activities of those involved in this type of criminal activity. The Policing Plan for 2013 sets out the commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively target groups and individuals engaged in criminal activity, including organised crime activity.

Garda Stations Closures

 472. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a breakdown of expected savings from the proposed Garda station closures on an individual station basis. [56366/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote and I have been informed by the Garda authorities that financial cost statements are maintained at District Headquarters level rather than at Garda station level. In the circumstances the Deputy will appreciate that the specific financial information he has sought is not readily available and I understand that the provision of such information would involve a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources which are required for other purposes.

However, I have also been advised by the Garda authorities that the average financial saving estimated to arise in respect of the closure of the stations in question is Euro 4,000 per station. To a large extent this estimate relates to heating and lighting costs and it does not take account of specific repair bills, which will vary from premises to premises.

As the Deputy will be aware, the closure of the stations has been proposed by the Garda Commissioner in his Policing Plan for 2013 and I would stress that the key objective involved is to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than to secure modest cash savings. In this context the Commissioner has concluded in relation to certain stations that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front line if the stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained. In making his recommendations on the closure of Garda stations, the Commissioner reviewed all aspects of An Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the overall operation of Garda stations. In addition, the Commissioner has given a commitment that where a station is to be closed local Garda management will consult with local communities on the alternative policing arrangements to be put in place in their area.

Furthermore, the Garda Commissioner has indicated he is confident that the implementation of the restructuring proposals contained in the 2013 Policing Plan will not lead to any diminution in the service provided by An Garda Síochána. In that regard he has stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country.

Public Sector Staff Increment Payments

 473. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the date on which he intends to review the salary grading structure of the public service as it affects his Department as committed to in the Programme for Government.  [56389/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that while the Prison Service as an organisation forms part of the general Civil Service, its grade structure has developed over time in response to the demands peculiar to the role of the Prison Service as one of the security arms of the State operating within the unique prison working environment. This has given rise to a grade structure not replicated elsewhere within the Civil Service. As part of a joint task review process, management and staff representatives within the Prison Service are working together to implement the provisions of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014. This ongoing review process is addressing every aspect of the operation of the prison system, including, where appropriate, the grade structure. In conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform a number of changes to grades within the Prison Service have been (or are in the process of being) implemented.

A number of prisons have been merged to form campuses with a view to achieving efficiencies and a reduction of staff numbers. Campuses have been established in West Dublin, Mountjoy and Portlaoise (incorporating eight prisons). As part of the review of the senior management structure the grade of Governor 1 within the prison campuses has been discontinued, and the five Governor 1 posts have been replaced by three Campus Governors. In addition, the grade of Deputy Governor has been discontinued, and no further appointments will be made to this grade. The grade of Chief Officer 2 Detail is being discontinued, and no further appointments will be made to this grade.

As part of the review of other grades within the Prison Service, the grades of Clerk 1 and Clerk 2 have been discontinued, and the staff are being redeployed to other areas within the Service where their experience and skills can be used to best advantage. This redeployment is being made possible by the introduction of Prison Administration and Support Officers to carry out the clerical duties within prisons at a substantially reduced cost.

In addition, discussions are at an advanced stage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the assimilation of some allowances into basic pay to remove anomalies in the remuneration of certain work training grades.

The joint task review process will continue to examine all aspects of the grading structure in order to ensure that it is fit for purpose and responsive to the needs of the Prison Service in the context of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.

In relation to Irish Prison Service Headquarters, it is intended to reduce the number of Directors in Headquarters from its current number complement of six to four under the lifetime of the Irish Prison Service 3 year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015.

Finally, the Deputy may wish to note that in the case of the of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, when it comes into operation, one of its first tasks will be to examine the staffing structure including grading in the new organisation.

Garda Stations Refurbishment

 474. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the position regarding the relocation of Glanmire Garda Station, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56421/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda stations is based on accommodation priorities which are established by An Garda Síochána. The programme is advanced in close co-operation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am advised that the necessary legal requirements are currently being finalised in respect of the acquisition of a premises for a new Garda station for Glanmire. In addition, I understand that the Office of Public Works is actively pursuing the arrangements to be made for the fit-out of the premises.

Proposed Legislation

 475. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the timetable for the introduction of the Parental Leave Directive (2010/18/EU); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56423/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My Department is currently working on proposals to transpose the Parental Leave Directive (2010/10/EU) into national law by 8 March 2013 as part of the wider Bill to consolidate all of the various family leave legislation (maternity, adoptive, parental and carer's leave) into one Act.

Garda Stations Closures

 476. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the way in which local Gardaí in the Districts where small Garda stations have been named for closure have been consulted; the way the decision for closure is arrived at; the way alternative arrangements for the policing of an affected community are made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [56433/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Commissioner's Policing Plan for 2013, which I laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 5th December 2012, sets out details of the closure of 100 Garda stations throughout the country, the future opening hours of other stations in Cork and Dublin and a number of District amalgamations. It is important to remember that while some Garda stations are listed for revised opening hours from 24 hour stations, they will remain as functioning Garda stations on a 24 hour basis. The full list of these details is available in the Policing Plan which is available in the Oireachtas Library.

The Commissioner has concluded that resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the front-line if particular stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained or if the public opening hours of other stations could be reduced at off-peak times. In making that decision he has reiterated the commitment of An Garda Síochána to providing a professional and effective service to the community. Each Divisional Officer with responsibility for a Division that will be affected by this decision was asked to assess the level of activity in each Garda Station in their area and has been tasked with developing a comprehensive consultation strategy together with a tailored implementation plan that will meet the particular needs of their Division.

We also need to be honest about the level of policing service that was capable of being provided from the stations that were and are to be closed. Of the 100 stations to be closed next year, 98% are only open part-time, 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less, 88% are served by 1 Garda and only 5% are served by 3 or more Garda personnel. In fact, of the 39 stations closed this year, 8 were not actually open at all. Their closure was a paper exercise which simply recognised reality.

The intention will be that at all times optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The revised structures will continue to support the community policing philosophy of An Garda Síochána through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of an enhanced grid patrolling system that will be operational and intelligence led.  This patrol system will ensure that a high visibility and community oriented policing service continues to be delivered throughout the country.


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