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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 281-291
 Header Item Garda Equipment
 Header Item Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Staff
 Header Item Supreme Court Rulings
 Header Item Crime Statistics
 Header Item Crime Statistics
 Header Item Courts Service Issues
 Header Item Garda Corruption
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Garda Deployment

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 281-291

Garda Equipment

 281. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the variations of speed camera vans that are in use here require clear identification; if the vans are meant to be adequately marked; the regulations and guidelines surrounding the identification of the vans; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21100/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is no legal requirement for members of An Garda Síochána to use marked vehicles when conducting speed enforcement, or that the vehicles be visible to oncoming traffic. As a matter of Garda policy safety camera vans operated by the outsource service provider, GoSafe, are fully marked when enforcing speeding offences. I am further informed that Garda safety camera vans are used both overtly and covertly. Similarly, speed enforcement may be carried out by Garda personnel when using marked and unmarked cars and marked motorcycles.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Staff

 282. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the legislation used in the appointment process to the recently announced Equality Board. [21104/13]

 283. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the independent panel appointed to select commissioners and the chief commissioner has been stood down; and if this is the case the way he will ensure that the process to appoint the chief commissioner to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, IHREC, will be independent, transparent and compliant with the UN Paris principles.  [21105/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 283 together.

Legislation to set up the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) is expected to be published before the end of the summer term and, in the meantime, the members of the new Commission will take up their positions on the two existing bodies that are being merged, the Equality Authority and the Human Rights Commission. This will both fill the existing gap at 'board' level in the two organisations and ensure that the two organisations can begin operating as a cohesive whole. These appointments are being made on the basis of the existing legislation, which in the case of the Equality Authority is the Employment Equality Act 1998.

As I indicated when announcing the 14 persons recommended by the Selection Panel for appointment as members designate of the new IHREC, the Selection Panel has reported that it has not proved possible to recruit a Chief Commissioner at this time. The terms on which this post was advertised included a requirement that the person appointed should not have served on either the Equality Authority or the Human Rights Commission. The requirement was considered essential to ensure that the new Chief Commissioner would bring balance and neutrality to the position in a sensitive merger context. The Selection Panel suggests also that the full-time nature of the position and the length of the contract (5 years) may have been issues that militated against a successful recruitment. The position was designated as a full-time one in view of the Paris Principles preference for full-time Commissioners.

I consider this issue requires time for reflection and consultation and that the debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas on the Bill to establish IHREC will be an opportunity to explain the difficulty that has arisen and to invite suggestions. Therefore, I intend to reflect on how to progress recruitment of a Chief Commissioner in the light of the debate on this issue in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Once the Bill is enacted, I will bring my proposals to Government.

I am very grateful to the members of the Panel for their unstinting public service work on essentially a voluntary basis. I consider that the experience of the process requires a critical review of the selection process set out in the General Scheme of the Bill as published. The scale of the task as it unfolded required that the Panel engage back-office assistance from the Public Appointments Service (PAS). In the light of the experience gained, I consider that future selection of persons to serve as members of the IHREC should be vested in the PAS. The PAS has existed in its different forms since the foundation of the State, to ensure integrity and impartiality in the appointment of civil servants and other public servants and is independent in the discharge of its functions and would thus fully meet the Paris Principles' requirement for a selection process independent of Government. This is a change in the selection process as originally adopted in the General Scheme which I consider is now required in the light of experience. I note that use of the PAS was one of the other options considered by the Working Group set up to advise on practical arrangements for establishment of IHREC in its report.

Supreme Court Rulings

 284. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he intends to bring legislation forward to deal with the outcome of a Supreme Court case (details supplied) in view of the fact that the court stated that the Oireachtas could legislate if it was satisfied that measures with appropriate safeguards could be introduced.  [21124/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Supreme Court in its judgment in Fleming v Ireland and Others (delivered on 29 April last) upheld the constitutionality of section 2(2) of the Criminal Law (Suicide) Act 1993. Section 2(2) provides for the offence of assisted suicide. While acknowledging the tragic situation of the appellant, the Court held that there is no constitutional right to commit suicide or to arrange for the ending of one’s life at a time of one’s choosing. The Court further held that it is not possible to identify a constitutional right for a limited class of persons which in this case would refer to disabled persons suffering severe pain arising from a terminal and degenerative illness, who have the capacity to consent and wish to have the assistance of a third party to end their lives. Submissions to the effect that the prohibition on assisted suicide was discriminatory and contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights were also rejected. As a consequence of the judgment, the offence of assisting another to take his or her life remains in place and I have no plans to amend the legislation.

Crime Statistics

 285. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to the broadcast of the Prime Time investigation entitled Riches from Rags on 25 April, 2013, which chronicled scores of alleged thefts from charitable clothes bins across the State, if he will confirm the number of individual crime reports that have been registered on the PULSE system and when the crime reports were registered on PULSE; and the way such alleged thefts are shown in crime statistics reported by the Central Statistics Office. [21187/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is not possible to provide the number of individual reports taken by Gardaí relating to charitable clothes bins across the State as they are not recorded on PULSE in a specific incident type. I am further informed that each offence would have to be examined manually to identify if it related to a clothes bank or not and would require a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources to compile. The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide any relevant information which may be available directly to the Deputy, having regard to the situation outlined above concerning the recording of such incidents.

Crime Statistics

 286. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question 900 on 16 April, 2013, the way a member of the public who has reported a crime to An Garda Síochána can be confident that the crime has been entered onto the Garda PULSE system. [21188/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The General Crime Counting Rules and the Technical Notes referred to in my reply to Parliamentary Question 900 of 16 April 2013 provide detailed information on the recording of crime. The most recent publication in which this information is provided is the CSO Recorded Crime for the fourth quarter of 2012. As stated previously, supervisory ranks within An Garda Síochána review all incidents recorded on PULSE to ensure that the correct crime classification is recorded. Further to this supervision, the Garda Information Service Centre (GISC), the central authority for recording crime incidents on PULSE, also monitors and reviews PULSE information to ensure the crime classification is correct. The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Commissioner, in response to recent questions concerning this matter, has provided strong assurances to the public that all crimes reported to the Gardaí will be fully and thoroughly investigated and offenders brought to justice wherever possible.

Courts Service Issues

 287. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of summonses issued at the behest of An Garda Siochana in each of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; if there are any trends which are of concern to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21189/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have requested reports from the Garda authorities and the Courts Service in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the reports are to hand.

Garda Corruption

 288. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of prosecutions initiated against current or former members of An Garda Síochána under section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. [21190/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have sought the relevant information from the Garda authorities and I will communicate further with the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Departmental Properties

 289. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi Unit Development act within his Department. [21249/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that neither my Department nor any agencies under it's aegis, own or rent properties that fall within the scope of his Question. I have no responsibility to the Dáil in respect of statutorily independent agencies which can vest, lease or rent property in their own name nor for properties leased or provided to my Department by the Office of Public Works.

Garda Deployment

 290. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the level of Gardaí currently servicing a station (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21254/13]

 291. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when a Garda Sergeant will be appointed to a Garda Station (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21255/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 290 and 291 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda 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 demographics, 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.

As of 31 March 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of the Mayo Garda Division was 304. Specifically in relation to the Foxford area, I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were 2 Gardaí assigned to that Station on the same date. These resources are further augmented, where appropriate, by Gardaí from national units such as the Garda National Drug Unit and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.


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