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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 517 - 537
 Header Item Judicial Appointments
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Garda Vetting Applications
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Land Transfers
 Header Item Garda Recruitment
 Header Item Immigration Policy
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Garda Retirements
 Header Item Garda Transport Data
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Ground Rents Payments
 Header Item Immigration Policy

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 821 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 517 - 537

Judicial Appointments

 517. 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 the number of judges that have been appointed to handle personal insolvency cases; the work they are involved in on a day to day basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49006/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Six Specialist Judges of the Circuit Court were appointed in July in accordance with Part Six of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 which provided for the amendment of the Courts Acts to create a cadre of Specialist Judges of the Circuit Court to facilitate the speedy consideration of insolvency applications by that Court. It is also my intention that these new judges will also be given jurisdiction to deal with applications to the Circuit Court under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013. The scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the President of the Circuit Court who is under the Constitution independent in the exercise of his judicial functions.

Residency Permits

 518. 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 the procedure to be followed to renew a Garda National Immigration Bureau card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49017/13]

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 on 8 November, 2005 for an initial two year period, under the revised arrangements applicable to the non-EEA national parents of Irish born children born in the State before 1 January, 2005, more commonly known as the IBC/05 Scheme. This permission was renewed for a further three years in 2007. Subsequently the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) renewed his permission to remain in the State in 2010 until 8 November, 2013.

  I am informed that on 6 November, 2013, the person concerned sought to have his permission to remain renewed for a further period. However, his renewal of permission request to the GNIB was not processed on that occasion as he was not in a position to meet the necessary requirements. In the circumstances, I would advise the person concerned to submit a written request for renewal of permission to remain to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, at PO BOX 10003, Dublin 1, outlining his current family circumstances.   

  Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.     

Naturalisation Applications

 519. 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 the eligibility for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49032/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received from the person referred to by the Deputy.

As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. I am informed that this application is now at an advanced stage of processing and the applicant will be informed of my decision in due course.

The Deputy may wish to note that 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 established specifically 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.

Crime Data

 520. 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 amount of alcohol seized by An Garda Síochána from persons in a public place in the years 2011 and 2012; the monetary value of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49079/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am informed by the Garda authorities that in 2011, 486 incidents were recorded where alcohol was seized by An Garda Síochána. In 2012, 354 incidents were recorded. The estimated monetary value of alcohol seized in 2011 and 2012 is €60,516 and €20,463, respectively. Figures provided are operational and liable to change.

Garda Deployment

 521. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when the vacant position of juvenile liaison officer will be filled in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49104/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions and Districts, the various Garda national units and of course Garda Headquarters. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources. This necessary ongoing flexibility in the distribution of personnel means that it is not feasible to identify specific vacancies within specific areas of the Force.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the strength of the Kerry Division on the 30 September 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available was 298 Garda members, 35 Garda Reserves and 32 civilians. There are 4 Juvenile Liaison Officers attached to the Kerry Division.

Garda Vetting Applications

 522. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will simplify vetting for community volunteers, that is, one vetting procedure should suffice for volunteers carrying out different roles; if he will put in place a set time period and simplify the process for volunteers who will be reapplying, having previously satisfied the vetting process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49110/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Vetting procedures in this country are in place to protect children and vulnerable adults. As such they demand rigorous procedures to ensure their integrity and to maintain the highest level of confidence by the public and organisations availing of them.

  To achieve these aims, a vetting disclosure is made in response to a written request and with the permission of the person who is the subject of that request. Garda vetting disclosures are issued to specified organisations registered with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) for that purpose in respect of a particular post or employment. The Unit processed approximately 328,000 vetting applications on behalf of these organisations in 2012 and expects to receive in the region of 350,000 applications by the end of 2013. The average processing time for vetting applications is seven to nine weeks.

  A full vetting check is conducted for each new application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. The non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the certificate protects against the risk of fraud or forgery and is a guarantee of the integrity of the vetting service. It also affords the registered organisation the facility to assess suitability based on the most up to date information available on the applicant. The Deputy will appreciate that the safety of children and vulnerable adults is the primary consideration and this must remain the case.

  The Deputy may also wish to note that elements of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 are under review at present and a number of amendments are planned to the legislation prior to its commencement early next year. In the context of making those amendments, I will also be seeking to amend the Act to minimise the extent of duplicate vetting. In that regard I will be seeking to make explicit in the Act that where more than one organisation shares the services of the same volunteer/employee, they can share a vetting disclosure, with the consent of the person who has been vetted.

Naturalisation Applications

 523. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason his Department has requested proof of evidence for the past three months to be provided again when it had previously been provided to the citizenship unit in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49145/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that an application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received from the person referred to by the Deputy.

  The application is being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. In accordance with the requirements for applications made under Section 15A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, the applicant was asked, via their solicitor, to submit proof of residence for the last three months which should include the applicant's and his spouse's name and address. The most recent of the documents submitted by the applicant was over six months old and therefore did not meet the requirements as specified in the guidance provided with the application form.

  The Deputy may wish to note that 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 established specifically 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

 524. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the options open to a person (details supplied) to apply for Irish citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49191/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The person concerned, having been born outside of Ireland to parents who were born outside Ireland but whose grandparent was born in Ireland, may apply for Foreign Births Registration. The application form is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs website www.dfa.ie and must be forwarded with required supporting documentation to the Irish Diplomatic and Consular Mission nearest to where the applicant normally resides.

Land Transfers

 525. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if an application to transfer land will be expedited in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [49220/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can inform the Deputy that under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority (PRA) was established as and from 4 November 2006. The PRA replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions.

  The Deputy will be aware of the service to TDs and Senators which provides information on the current status of applications, such as the subject of this question, which was introduced in May 2006. The service provides a speedier, more efficient and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions. It is operated by the PRA and is available all year round.

  I can further inform the Deputy that his query has been forwarded to the PRA for attention and direct reply via the above mentioned service.       

Garda Recruitment

 526. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when Garda recruitment will commence; and when is it expected that the first students will be entering the Garda College in Templemore. [49309/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I recently announced that a recruitment competition for An Garda Síochána is to commence shortly and it is expected that the first batch of new recruits will enter the Garda college in mid-2014.

There are a number of procedural issues that need to be finalised prior to the formal commencement of that competition and these are expected to conclude in the coming weeks. A further announcement will be issued as soon as recruitment starts, both on the Public Appointments Service website and directly to those who have registered an expression of interest in joining the Garda Síochána.

Immigration Policy

 527. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will consider introducing new medium to long-term visas for non-EU persons of independent means who wish to spend their retirement here, taking into account the contribution that such persons could make to the Irish economy and acknowledging that the current arrangements whereby they can only get renewal annual stamp O visas until they meet the five year residency requirement is a disincentive to retirees to move here as it does not provide them with the certainty they need to feel comfortable buying a house and making other investments here.  [49310/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have no plans to create a new immigration programme specifically for retirees of independent means. It is already open to any person to make application for residence in the State and for that application to be considered on its merits. Cases involving self-sufficient retirees arise from time to time and are evaluated by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department.

This sort of migration is far from straightforward and involves potential significant financial risks to the State. For example, while the requirement to have full medical insurance is a sine qua non, in these cases this of itself is no guarantee of such an application not being a burden on the State. In some jurisdictions inward immigration of this nature is prohibited entirely and in others lengthy waiting periods are involved or large financial investments are required prior to any definitive relocation taking place. For approval to be given to an application therefore the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service would have to be fully satisfied that no costs to the State will arise at any point from that person's residence here. Therefore the person would need to have a guaranteed and sustainable annual income sufficient for their foreseeable needs and have full medical cover. The immigration status granted is stamp 0 which is specifically aimed at providing an opportunity to remain in the State but to confer no expectation of eligibility for State funds or that is should be a pathway to long term residence or citizenship. Stamp 0 permission is made conditional on not becoming a burden on the State and for it to be renewed this condition must continue to be met.

There are also other avenues available to self sufficient retirees. The Immigrant Investor Programme offers a range of qualifying investment options and an enhanced immigration status (Stamp 4) to the successful applicant and his/her spouse or partner, and minor children. The financial thresholds for this programme have been lowered from July of this year following a review by the Government. Details of this programme are available on the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie.

Departmental Legal Costs

 528. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question No. 327 of 12 of November 2013, the reason his Department’s computer records relating to legal fees do not allow his Department to disaggregate the expenditure between senior counsel and junior counsel when all other Departments were able to furnish this Deputy with the figures for senior counsel in the same time period requested; if he will now provide the cumulative amount paid by his Department to senior counsel each year since 2003 as requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49318/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that in my previous reply I was referring to my Department's Financial Management System (FMS). My Department's FMS disaggregates information in a manner appropriate to the management of my Department's finances. The details requested by the Deputy are not at present captured in every case when processing payments to persons who happen to be senior counsels as it is not a necessary requirement to facilitate such payments.

As was pointed out in my earlier reply, in the majority of cases legal advice is provided for my Department by the Office of the Attorney General and/or the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and as such the costs incurred are borne by those Offices. The primary example of where costs are managed by my Department would be in the Criminal Legal Aid area. If it would be of use to the Deputy it may be possible to extract details for some of the more recent years of senior counsel expenditure in this specific area.

Such information would only provide a partial reflection of the senior counsel costs arising for my Department but as I have already indicated it is not possible to provide a more comprehensive picture without a disproportionate allocation of resources to extract the information.

Visa Applications

 529. 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 the progress to date regarding an application for a visa in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49371/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The visa application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office, Abuja, on 29 August 2013.

   Following full consideration, the Visa Officer decided to refuse the grant of the visa on 8 October 2013. The specific reasons for the application being refused are contained in the refusal letter, which has issued to the person concerned.

  It is open to the person concerned to appeal the decision to refuse the visa. An appeal must be made within two months of the date of refusal, in this instance before 8 December 2013. Where doing so, the applicant should be in a position to address the reasons for the refusal. Guidelines regarding the visa appeals procedure are available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service - www.inis.gov.ie.

   Queries in relation to general immigration matters 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.     

Garda Investigations

 530. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason, in view of allegations that have arisen from a television programme (details supplied), no investigation or lines of inquiry have taken place by the relevant authorities.  [49374/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will appreciate I have no role in the investigation of criminal matters, which are a matter for An Garda Síochána, who have previously indicated that they have no record of any complaint or investigation arising from the programme referred to.   

Naturalisation Applications

 531. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an update on an application made for citizenship by a person (details suppllied) in Dublin 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49435/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that an application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received from the person referred to by the Deputy.

  The application is being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence. A letter has issued to the person concerned requesting certain information. Upon receipt of this information the case will be submitted to me for decision.

  The Deputy may wish to note that 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 established specifically 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.           

Garda Retirements

 532. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of gardaí who have applied under each early retirement scheme introduced in the past five years by location and grade; the number of gardaí who have voluntarily retired by location and grade; the number of compulsory retirements by location and grade; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49458/13]

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 the number of members who have retired under the Cost Neutral Early Retirement (CNER) scheme, broken down by rank, on 31 December 2009 to 2012 and on 1 November 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table hereunder:

Rank 31/12/09 31/12/10 31/12/11 31/12/12 1/11/13
Commissioner - - - - -
D/Commissioner - - - - -
A/Commissioner - - - - -
C/Superintendent - - - - -
Superintendent - - - - -
Inspector - - - - -
Sergeant - 1 1 1 2
Garda -   1 1 3
Total 0 1 2 2 5


  In general, members of An Garda Síochána may retire on a voluntary basis once they have reached 50 years of age and have accrued 30 years service. Members must retire on compulsory age grounds on reaching the age of 60.

  I have further been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of members who have either retired or applied to retire by 31 December 2013, both compulsory and voluntary, broken down by rank for 2013 was as set out in the table hereunder:
Rank Vol Comp
Commissioner 0 0
D/Commissioner 1 0
A/Commissioner 0 1
C/Superintendent 0 1
Superintendent 16 0
Inspector 12 1
Sergeant 68 0
Garda 168 8
Total 265 12
 

  The information requested in relation to location is not readily available and would require a disproportionate amount of time to collate in relation to the information sought.

Garda Transport Data

 533. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide detailed up to date information on the current Garda vehicle fleet, including the manufacturer, model and current distribution of vehicles by district and division; the number of vehicles that are approaching the upper acceptable mileage and upper acceptable age for use as Garda vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49459/13]

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 turn, the deployment of Garda vehicles is kept under on-going review by the Garda authorities and revised in response to policing demands.

  This flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles, so as to best match the allocation of resources with priorities, is crucial to the efficient management of the Garda fleet. As a consequence, the Deputy will appreciate that it is not practicable to provide these figures at District level. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current Garda fleet consists of 2,459 vehicles, comprised of a number of makes/models, including: Ford, Toyota, Honda, Opel, Fiat, Citroen, Volvo, Renault, Nissan and others.

  In that context, I am advised by the Garda authorities that the number of Garda vehicles by Division at the end of October 2013 is set out in the table.

Division No.
CAVAN-MONAGHAN 49
CLARE 44
CORK CITY 113
CORK NORTH 39
CORK WEST 46
DMR EAST 52
DMR NORTH 109
DMR NORTH CENTRAL 65
DMR SOUTH 78
DMR SOUTH CENTRAL 68
DMR TRAFFIC 61
DMR WEST 106
DONEGAL 58
GALWAY 79
KERRY 38
KILDARE 46
KILKENNY/CARLOW 51
LAOIS-OFFALY 47
LIMERICK 70
LOUTH 45
MAYO 52
MEATH 53
NATIONAL UNITS 768
ROSCOMMON-LONGFORD 40
SLIGO-LEITRIM 48
TIPPERARY 50
WATERFORD 50
WESTMEATH 42
WEXFORD 42
WICKLOW 50
TOTAL 2,459


  Garda vehicles are retired for a variety of reasons, including where vehicles are considered beyond economic repair or as a result of accidents. I understand from the Garda authorities that the relevant manufacturers have indicated that, for safety reasons, patrol cars should be withdrawn from service when the odometer reading reaches 300,000 kilometres. Accordingly, this is the operational policy that is applied by the Garda authorities. Based on current usage, it is estimated that 93 vehicles may be retired between now and the end of the year.

  I am conscious of the continuing pressures on the Garda fleet and, in that regard, I am very pleased to have secured a further €9m for investment in the fleet, made up of €5m in 2013 and a further €4m in 2014. At this stage, arising from the additional €5m which has recently been made available, the Garda authorities have arranged for the delivery of 305 new vehicles by the end of 2013. These are in addition to the 133 new Garda vehicles already made available during the year.

  The most recent investment will bring to €18m the total amount spent on the Garda fleet for the three years 2012 to 2014. This represents a very considerable financial investment in Garda transport, particularly at a time when the level of funding available across the public sector is severely limited. It is a clear indication of my commitment to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, An Garda Síochána are provided with sufficient resources to enable them to deliver an effective and efficient policing service.

Garda Deployment

 534. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the numbers of gardaí available in each region who have been trained to conduct specialist child interviews as part of the joint protocol with the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49460/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts, the various Garda national units and of course Garda Headquarters. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources.

  I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of Gardaí, in each region, trained to conduct specialist child interviews, are as set out in the table:

Region Garda
Dublin Metropolitan Region 21
Northern Region 11
Eastern Region 9
Western Region 11
South Eastern Region 11
Southern Region 10

Ground Rents Payments

 535. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the steps he will take to address the issue of ground rents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49501/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The position is that section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978 introduced a prohibition on the creation of new leases reserving ground rents on dwellings. As regards existing ground rents, Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No.2) Act 1978 contains a statutory scheme whereby a person may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in their dwelling. To date, over 80,000 applicants have acquired freehold title to their property under this scheme. In the case of property other than dwellings, the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1967 contains provisions which facilitate acquisition of the fee simple subject to agreed terms or on terms set out in an arbitration carried out by the County Registrar.

  The general position regarding ground rents was considered by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in its 2004 Report 'Private Property'. The Committee took the view that a ground landlord's ground rent is a form of property right which is constitutionally protected and that abolition of such rents would be unconstitutional in the absence of adequate monetary compensation. The Committee also noted that where leases were approaching expiry, any legislation providing for the abolition of ground rents would have to provide for the payment of enhanced compensation by the ground tenant. In light of the foregoing, I have no immediate plans to introduce further legislation in this area. However, operation of the existing law continues to be kept under review by my Department.     

Immigration Policy

 536. 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 if an earned regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants currently living in Ireland, for example, based on a points system, will be included in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill.  [49513/13]

 537. 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 if he will bring forward a regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants here similar to the undocumented workers scheme bridging visa that was in place from October to December 2009; if there are other schemes planned to address the plight of the estimated 30,000 so called undocumented individuals, including children and families, who have been in the State for four years or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49514/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 536 and 537 together.

I have no plans to introduce any form of earned regularisation scheme, based on a points system or otherwise, in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, nor do I intend to do so on an administrative basis. It is the responsibility of all non EEA nationals who are resident in the State to ensure that they have an appropriate permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality and the majority of migrants comply with this condition.

I understand that the programme introduced in 2009 related to a very specific subset of the overall population of illegally present foreign nationals, namely those who had previously held an employment permit but had since, through no fault of their own, become undocumented. It provided, subject to a requirement that each case be considered on its merits, for a short term bridging permission to allow the person to apply for a new employment permit. I also understand that currently where similar cases are presented to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service they are dealt with in the same way as under that programme.

Broad regularisation programmes are problematic. They could give rise to unpredictable and potentially very costly impacts across the full range of public and social services. At EU Level, the Member States, in agreeing the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum at the European Council in October 2008 made specific commitments "to use only case-by-case regularisation, rather than generalised regularisation, under national law, for humanitarian or economic reasons". While the Pact is not legally binding, the political commitment among Member States, then and now, is clearly against any form of process that would in any way legitimise the status of those unlawfully present without first examining the merits of their individual cases. In our case there are also considerations based on maintaining the integrity of the Common Travel Area with the UK which must be taken into account.

Clearly, all illegal migration cases are not the same and must be dealt with on a case by case basis taking account of their individual circumstances. At one end of the scale are those where the person's illegal status is through no fault of their own. However there are also much more egregious instances of immigration abuse, often at considerable expense to the State and it does not follow that such persons should profit from their conduct.

Sometimes case by case consideration will result in a positive outcome for the applicant. However, in other cases this may result in a decision by the Irish authorities, subject to the oversight of our Courts, that the person has to go home. That decision should be respected.

Finally, I should point out that in relation to the estimate given by the Deputy of some 30,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland, and while I have seen the same figure quoted myself, I am unaware of the statistical basis for this figure and accordingly am not in a position either to endorse it or propose an alternative. Illegal migration is inherently extremely difficult to measure.


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