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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 292-300
 Header Item Garda Districts
 Header Item Personal Insolvency Act
 Header Item Citizenship Ceremonies
 Header Item Charities Regulation
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Asylum Applications
 Header Item Charity Clothes Bank Thefts
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Equipment

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 292-300

Garda Districts

 292. 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 he will explain the proposed new County Mayo Garda Districts on a DED by DED basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21256/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner completed a comprehensive review of the district and station arrangements and set out, in his Policing Plan for 2013, a revised district and station network. He has informed me that, in relation to the Swinford and Claremorris Districts, these will be amalgamated into the new enlarged District of Claremorris. This amalgamation will be implemented during 2013. As a consequence of the amalgamation, the Foxford Garda sub-district, which is currently part of the Swinford Garda District, will be amalgamated into the Ballina District. This will not affect the policing service provided to the community of the Foxford Garda sub-district which will be augmented on a 24 hour basis by personnel assigned to Ballina Garda Station.

Personal Insolvency Act

 293. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has considered giving authorisation to persons other than solicitors and accountants who pass relevant exams to act as personal insolvency practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21264/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 498 on 23rd April, 2013. The position remains as stated:

All Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs) will be authorised and regulated by the Insolvency Service of Ireland, in accordance with Part 5 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 - Sections 159 to 169. In Part 5 of the Act, Section 163 sets out how an individual may make application to carry on practice as a Personal Insolvency Practitioner, and Section 164 the matters which the Insolvency Service must take into account in deciding whether an applicant should be authorised as a PIP or whether authorisation is to be refused. The Insolvency Service of Ireland will shortly publish the Regulations under Section 161 of the Act in regard to the authorisation and regulation of personal insolvency practitioners. The Regulations will set out the necessary criteria in regard to qualifications. As I have previously stated, I expect that accountants, lawyers and a broad range of financial advisors may wish to seek regulation as practitioners, but it will not be confined to these professions. All potential applicants, in addition to their existing professional qualifications, will have to demonstrate evidence of the applicants' satisfactory knowledge of the provisions of the Act and the law generally as it applies in the State relating to the insolvency of individuals and in particular statutory provisions relating to such persons.

Citizenship Ceremonies

 294. 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 when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin, will be called to attend a citizenship ceremony [21330/13]

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 the person referred to by the Deputy will shortly be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony on 20 May, 2013 at which I intend to grant her application for a Certificate of Naturalisation.

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.

Charities Regulation

 295. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update on the implementation of the Charities Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21336/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Charities Act 2009 was designed to support and enhance public trust in charities by providing for the statutory registration and regulation of charities operating in Ireland by an independent Charities Regulatory Authority.

The decision was taken in 2011, because of the urgent need to make savings in Government expenditure, to defer full implementation of the Charities Act. This decision was taken for financial reasons and it has remained Government policy to provide for the implementation of the Charities Act 2009.

My Department has therefore examined methods of how best to implement the Charities Act in the current financial climate. As part of this process, in January of this year I published for consultation outline proposals for implementing key provisions of the Act. The consultation document invited the views of stakeholders and members of the public on proposals for the implementation of the Act on a phased and low cost basis. I was very pleased with the outcome of this consultation. Some 160 submissions, containing much valuable feedback, were received in response.

My Department is currently reviewing the submissions received and I look forward to publishing the results in due course and a further indication of the Government's timeframe for the introduction of an operational Charities Regulatory Authority and full implementation of the Charities Act 2009.

Visa Applications

 296. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide the number of persons that have applied for, and the number of persons that have received a visa under the visa investment scheme programme and the start-up visa scheme. [21337/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Immigrant Investor Programme and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme were opened for applications in April 2012. Since then, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service have received 27 applications for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme and 10 Applications for the Immigrant Investor Programme. Fourteen applications have been approved under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, seven applications have been refused, one applicant gained an alternative status and the remainder are still under consideration. Three applications have been approved under the Immigrant Investor Programme and the remainder are still under consideration.

To date the total investment committed under both Programmes is of the order of €10.5 million and that it is projected that 270 jobs will be retained or created on foot of these investments in the ICT, recycling and financial services areas. In addition two organisations, one educational and the other a charity, are receiving substantial endowments to support and develop their activities.

Asylum Applications

 297. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline the way the Common European Asylum System will ensure that the European Union has a fair and effective system for processing asylum applications that is also robust and not open to abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21449/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) is provided for in Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which states that the Union shall constitute an area of freedom, security and justice. Article 78 of the TFEU provides that the Union shall develop a common policy on asylum, subsidiary protection and temporary protection with a view to offering appropriate status to any third-country national requiring international protection in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement and the 1951 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees.

Measures relating to the CEAS are covered by the EU Treaty Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice. The Protocol allows either Member State to opt into EU measures pursuant to Title V of the TFEU. The principal EU instruments which comprise the CEAS are the Dublin Regulation and three Directives dealing with reception conditions, asylum procedures and qualification. At the present time Ireland participates in the Dublin Regulation, the 2004 Qualification Directive and the 2005 Asylum Procedures Directive.

The Dublin Regulation provides that an application for asylum (international protection) lodged by a third country national in a Member State shall be examined by a single Member State which shall be determined in accordance with the hierarchy of criteria set out in Chapter III of the Regulation. These criteria are based on the general principle that responsibility for examining an application should primarily lie with the Member State which played the greatest part in the applicant’s entry into and presence in the territories of the Member States with some exceptions designed to protect family unity. In an area without controls at the internal borders of the Member States, a mechanism for determining responsibility for asylum applications lodged in the Member States was needed in order, on the one hand, to guarantee effective access to the procedures for determining refugee status and not to compromise the objective of the rapid processing of asylum applications and, on the other, to prevent abuse of asylum procedures in the form of multiple applications for asylum submitted by the same person in several Member States with the sole aim of extending his or her stay in the Member States.

The 2005 Asylum Procedures Directive contains provisions dealing with:

a) basic principles and guarantees, including access to the procedure, the right to remain in the Member State pending the examination of the application, the personal interview of an asylum applicant and guarantees for unaccompanied minors;

b) procedures at first instance, including the examination procedure, prioritisation and acceleration of any examination, inadmissible applications, the safe country of origin concept, subsequent applications and failure to appear; and

c) procedures for the withdrawal of refugee status and appeals procedures.

The 2004 Qualification Directive contains provisions dealing with:

a) the assessment of applications for international protection, including assessment of facts and circumstances on an individual basis;

b) qualification for being a refugee, including cessation and exclusion clauses;

c) qualification for subsidiary protection, including cessation and exclusion clauses; and

d) the content of international protection, including protection from refoulement, residence permits, access to employment, education, social welfare and health care.

My Department and the independent bodies under the aegis of my Department, i.e. the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, have considerable experience in the operation of the legal framework comprising the CEAS instruments in which Ireland participates. On the basis of this experience I am of the view that this legal framework does allow for a fair and effective system for processing asylum applications that is also robust and capable of preventing the institution of asylum being resorted to for purposes alien to those for which it is intended.

Charity Clothes Bank Thefts

 298. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the penalties that apply for those convicted of theft from charity bring banks; if he is considering strengthening the laws in this area, in view of the significant loss of revenue this theft causes to charities; if he intends to regulate charity collectors who call door to door to collect for charities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21458/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Theft is an offence contrary to section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. A person convicted upon indictment of theft is liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or an unlimited fine. There are no plans to amend section 4 of the 2001 Act.

I am concerned about the reported practice of some collectors of clothing and bric-a-brac who convey the impression in their promotional literature that they are a charity, when this may not actually be the case. This may lead some people to donate to such collections in the belief that they are supporting a charity and helping to alleviate hardship. This is unfair both to donors whose intention in donating such items is to help those in need, and to bona fide charities that may lose out on donations as a result. It is an offence under section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 to make gain or cause loss to others by deception.

In addition to these existing measures under the Criminal Justice Acts, the Charities Act 2009 also contains measures aimed at preventing the abuse of charitable status. Under section 46 of the Charities Act, it is an offence for an organisation that is not a registered charity to describe itself or its activities in such terms as would cause members of the public to reasonably believe that it is a charitable organisation. This section cannot be commenced until the statutory Register of Charities, also provided for under the Charities Act, is in place.

While further implementation of the Charities Act and creation of the Register of Charities have been delayed for financial reasons, the Government remains committed to progressing the implementation of the Act and putting in place a dedicated regulatory framework for charities in line with the provisions of the Act. My Department has been examining how best this can be done in the current financial climate. As part of this work, my Department recently undertook a consultation on key issues, including the creation of the Register of Charities. The submissions received are currently being reviewed and I look forward to publishing the results in due course and giving a further indication of the Government's timeframe for the introduction of an operational Charities Regulatory Authority and full implementation of the Charities Act 2009.

Garda Stations Closures

 299. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason the green man phone mechanism is being removed from all Garda stations, that is, not just Garda stations that are closed but stations that are still operational and are now seeing the green man being removed from the doors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21522/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Decisions in relation to the deployment of Garda equipment and resources are operational matters for the Garda Commissioner.

In this context I am informed by the Garda authorities that the decision to discontinue the provision of public access call boxes at Garda stations has been based primarily on the results of an operational review which established that, on average, a large majority of these facilities had less than one call per day. In addition, I understand that the decision took account of the fact that mobile phones are in very wide use throughout the country.

Garda Equipment

 300. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if a directive has been issued telling Gardaí that they are no longer allowed to buy new batteries for their flash lamps which they need for their night patrols; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21523/13]

 302. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if, in view of the lamps that are used for road checks at night by the traffic corps which require batteries, a directive has issued informing An Gardai Síochána that they are no longer allowed to buy new batteries for these lamps which are needed for their night patrols; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21532/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 300 and 302 together.

  The provision and deployment of Garda equipment is undertaken by the Garda Commissioner. In that context I am informed by the Garda authorities they are satisfied that the arrangements which have been made for the supply of lights used by Garda personnel, including batteries, are satisfactory and meet the operational requirements of the Force.


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