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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 786-803
 Header Item Court Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Marriages of Convenience
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Insolvency Service of Ireland Funding
 Header Item Insolvency Service of Ireland Application Numbers
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Garda Reports
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Garda Vetting Applications
 Header Item Garda Oversight
 Header Item Court Orders
 Header Item Copyright Infringement
 Header Item Garda Transport Data
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Citizenship Status

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 786-803

Court Accommodation Provision

 786. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of court houses which have closed in County Mayo for the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. [13749/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

  However, in order to be of assistance, I have had enquiries made and the information sought by the Deputy is set out in a table.

YearNumber of Closures
20001
20014
20020
20030
20040
20050
20060
20070
20080
20094
20101
20110
20122
20130

Marriages of Convenience

 787. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to the number of arranged marriages taking place here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13754/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will appreciate I have no responsibility for marriage registration: I assume he is referring to marriages of convenience and the abuse of the EU free movement legal framework by those seeking to circumvent proper immigration controls to enter the State.

One such abuse, which has emerged from the now well documented trend towards unusual patterns of marriage between European citizens and third country nationals, relates to sham marriages or marriages of convenience. Marriages of convenience are notoriously difficult to prove and our constitutional protection of marriage makes uncovering these situations more problematic.

This is a complex issue and there is no single, legislative or operational approach that will permanently eliminate the problem. The authorities deploy a range of measures and cooperate closely in tackling this problem. This is a high priority of all the services, agencies and other organisations tasked with preventing or negating any benefits to the persons who engage in these activities.

In addition to our operational response I have asked my officials to re-examine the provisions in the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010 and to draft amendments dealing with immigration related marriages of convenience and sham marriages. A similar approach is being taken in respect of the Free Movement Regulations that transposed the EU Directive into Irish law. I also understand that officials from the Department of Social Protection are examining possible legislative measures to address the civil registration aspects of marriages of convenience.

At the European level there are also a number of initiatives focused at abuse on legal migration channels such as marriages of convenience. In 2009 the Commission published guidelines on the better implementation of Directive 38/2004/EC on Free Movement. The guidelines contained a specific chapter of abuse and fraud which included some guidance on identifying marriages of convenience. More recent, in 2012, the Commission began work, in consultation with Member States, on drawing up a handbook for practitioners investigating sham marriages or marriages of convenience. We understand that work is well advance in relation to this handbook.

Garda Operations

 788. 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 cost of the policing operation for the European People's Party convention in Dublin recently in terms of financial cost and the number of Garda hours involved. [13788/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, the European People's Party Election Congress took place in Dublin on the 6th and 7th of March this year. In the circumstances the event fell within the Garda roster period which will end on the 30th of March.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that, given the roster situation, the bulk of the claims by Garda personnel arising in connection with the event have yet to be submitted for payment and, accordingly, they are not in a position to furnish the details requested by the Deputy.

Insolvency Service of Ireland Funding

 789. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the budget provided for the Insolvency Service of Ireland in 2014; the number of staff currently employed by the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13806/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can advise the Deputy that the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has been allocated a budget of €7.2 million for 2014 under the Justice Vote. It should be noted that practically all of the planned staffing resources and structures are now in place for the Insolvency Service and it is very much open for business. This is an outstanding achievement considering that the relevant legislation was enacted little over a year ago and the ISI itself was only formally established last year.

There are 89 staff assigned to and currently working in the ISI. This includes staff working for the Official Assignee who previously formed part of the Courts Service.

Insolvency Service of Ireland Application Numbers

 790. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of applications that have come before the Insolvency Service of Ireland; the number of debt relief notices, debt settlement arrangements and personal insolvency arrangements that have been formally registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13807/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In the interest of confidentiality, the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) is not providing details or breakdowns of the numbers of applications received or being processed at this time. The ISI fully intends to provide quarterly statistics once the figures are compiled. I am advised that the ISI intends to publish this information in April.

Departmental Correspondence

 791. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any dialogue has occurred between the different religious groups and his Department regarding arranged marriages of girls under the age of 17; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13809/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I will contact the Deputy's Office directly in relation to this matter.

Garda Reports

 792. 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 has received the annual report from An Garda Síochána for 2013; when the 2013 report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13825/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Section 46 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 requires the Garda Commissioner to submit an Annual Report not later than four months after the end of each year on the policing of the State for the previous year. The report is expected within the coming weeks.

The Act also requires me, as the Minister, to lay a copy of the report before the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as practicable, and not later than 30 days, after receiving the report.

Crime Data

 793. 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 provide in tabular form the number of murders in which a firearm was used that were recorded in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number of these that were recorded in Dublin; the number of convictions that have been secured from these crimes; if he is concerned by these numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13826/14]

 794. 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 number of gangland style shootings that have occurred in Dublin in 2013; if he is concerned at the increase in gangland activity in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13827/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 793 and 794 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that seven murders in which firearms were used and which are classified as associated with organised crime were recorded in the Dublin region in 2013. While I am of course concerned at these incidents, the Deputy will be aware that the most recent official crime statistics show a reduction in the number of recorded incidents of murder and manslaughter offences, and the number of killings associated with organised crime has also fallen in recent years. I have sought a detailed report from the Garda authorities on the further specific statistics sought by him and will contact him again when it is available.

No-one underestimates the challenges faced by the Gardaí in tackling organised crime and investigating what are typically very carefully planned shootings but the Gardaí are impacting on these organisations and disrupting their activities, with major drug seizures taking place, and many of those involved brought before the courts and serious penalties handed down.

In particular, the Garda Policing Plan 2014 sets out the continued commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively target groups and individuals engaged in organised criminal activity. Multi-disciplinary approaches are used to ensure the effective targeting of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise including through the use of the proceeds of crime legislation, money laundering legislation, the organised crime provisions in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Homicide rates continue to be monitored closely and investigations are actively progressed under the daily supervision of local Garda Management and specially appointed Senior Investigating Officers supported by Gardaí attached to National Units.

I have every confidence that An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, through targeted operations utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods.

Garda Vetting Applications

 795. 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 person has a case taken against them by the Director of Public Prosecutions at the request of a member of An Garda Síochána and if following that case the charge against the person was completely dismissed in its entirety and was struck out with no order and the Prohibition of Offenders Act was not involved, in subsequent years when that person seeks Garda vetting would the vetting come back clear, that is, would there be no record of the charge that was made at that time and would the person have a clean record going forward, which obviously would be very important with regard to employment prospects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13915/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Garda Vetting Disclosures are predicated on the signed authorisation of a vetting subject for An Garda Síochána to disclose to the registered organisation “details of all prosecutions, successful or not, pending or completed, and/or convictions which may be recorded in respect of them in the State or elsewhere”; or alternatively that there are “no prosecutions or convictions recorded in respect of them”. The disclosure is made to the requesting, registered organisation of the position at the time when it is issued. Any decision regarding the suitability for a position of a particular vetting subject is a matter for the organisation concerned.

Elements of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 relating to the disclosure of convictions are under review at present having regard to a recent judgment of the UK Court of Appeal in (On the Application of) T and others v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester [2013]. The UK Court considered the circumstances in which it is appropriate to disclose convictions for old, minor offences with particular regard to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Having considered the judgement in that case, I intend bringing proposals before the Oireachtas to provide that certain old minor convictions will not be disclosed under the provisions of the 2012 Act. Given the close relationship between this Act and the Spent Convictions Bill, which is before the Oireachtas at the moment, any changes to the Vetting Act will have to be reflected in the Spent Convictions Bill. The amendment of the Vetting Act will also be done via the Spent Convictions Bill.

Until now all records of all criminal convictions have been disclosed by the Gardaí when vetting people for various employments. However, in future certain minor offences that are more than seven years old, where the person has not subsequently reoffended, will not be disclosed. In addition, cases of minor offences where charges are struck out will not be disclosed. More serious offences, however, such as all sexual offences, offences against the person, serious motoring offences, firearms offences, robbery, or any offence for which the person is convicted on indictment will continue to be disclosed in all cases.

Pending commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 the revisions in approach outlined above will, in the interim, be applied on an administrative basis by the Garda Central Vetting Unit.

Garda Oversight

 796. 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 report on the meeting of the criminal justice working group established to oversee and facilitate the implementations of the report of An Garda Síochána inspectorate entitled, The Fixed Charge Processing System: A 21st Century Strategy, that took place on 13 March last; the future schedule of meetings of the group; the actions that will be taken arising out of the group’s work to date.  [13959/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The function of the Criminal Justice (Fixed Charge Processing System) Working Group is to oversee and facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate into the Fixed Charge Processing System. The Group is chaired jointly by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and comprises representatives of An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service, the Road Safety Authority, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Other agencies will be invited to participate as considered necessary by the Group. The Deputy will be aware that the first meeting of the Group was held on 13 March, at which there was a preliminary discussion of the Report's recommendations and the approach to be taken with respect to their implementation. The Group will report to myself and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on a regular basis having regard to the Action Plan which I published along with the Garda Inspectorate's report.

Court Orders

 797. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the numbers of applications to the respective district courts across the country for ejectment-possession orders made by each and all local authorities under both the Housing Act 1966 and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997 for the years 2009 to 2013, inclusive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13985/14]

 798. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the numbers of ejectment-possession orders obtained in District Courts across the country by each and all local authorities for the years 2009 to 2013, inclusive, under the Housing Act 1966 and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [13989/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 797 and 798 together.

  The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of information on the courts system.

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the table below shows the number of ejectment summonses issued in the District Court for the period concerned, which equates to the number of applications made under the Housing Act 1966 and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1997. The Courts Service has advised that statistics are not maintained in relation to the number of orders granted.

District Court
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Athlone
2
0
2
3
0
Ballina
3
0
0
0
0
Bray
46
46
69
33
13
Carlow
1
1
0
0
0
Carrick on Shannon
3
1
2
0
0
Castlebar
0
0
0
0
0
Cavan
0
0
1
2
0
Clonakilty
0
0
0
1
0
Clonmel
0
0
5
0
2
Cork
0
0
2
8
24
DMD*
809
1503
1450
1738
1840
Donegal
0
0
0
0
0
Dundalk
0
1
0
0
1
Ennis
0
0
0
0
2
Galway
3
0
1
0
0
Kilkenny
0
0
0
0
0
Letterkenny
1
0
0
0
0
Limerick
0
0
1
0
0
Longford
4
2
0
0
1
Loughrea
0
0
0
0
0
Mallow
0
0
0
0
0
Monaghan
0
0
0
0
0
Mullingar
0
0
0
2
0
Naas
0
0
0
0
2
Nenagh
0
0
0
2
0
Portlaoise
0
0
0
0
0
Roscommon
0
0
0
0
0
Sligo
9
7
5
2
0
Tralee
0
0
5
0
0
Trim
0
0
0
0
0
Tullamore
0
3
2
1
0
Waterford
0
0
1
0
0
Wexford
0
0
0
0
1
Youghal
0
0
3
2
0
Total
881
1564
1549
1794
1886


  *Dublin Metropolitan District

Copyright Infringement

 799. 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 his view on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13990/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that I have no official responsibility to the Dáil in relation to the issue he has raised. The matter appears to involve an alleged breach of the civil law in relation to copyright. This is not a matter for my Department. Moreover, as I am sure the Deputy will appreciate it would not appropriate for me, as Minister for Justice and Equality, to provide an interpretation of the law or to seek to intervene in any way.

Garda Transport Data

 800. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of additional Garda community relations vans that came into service in 2011, 2012 and 2013; the number that were withdrawn during same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14031/14]

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

  I am advised by the Garda authorities that the information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following table:

Year
No. of Community Vans that

came into service
No. of Community Vans decommissioned
2013
1
1
2012
0
1
2011
2
2

Visa Applications

 801. 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 if he will provide an update on the stamp 4 visa application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14083/14]

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 the persons mentioned by the Deputy availed of the 2004 Student Probationary extension in 2012 and as such were given two years permission to remain in the State and were given the right to work on a full time basis. Their current permission to remain will expire on 19 September 2014 and at that point they will qualify to apply for a Stamp 4 permission.

This information was issued to their legal representative on 19 December 2012 on foot of the applications detailed by the Deputy.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by email 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 email service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Residency Permits

 802. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to implement the earned regulation scheme proposed by a number of undocumented migrant groups here so as to provide citizens, who are contributing significantly to this country, with a residency amnesty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14092/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am familiar with the ongoing campaign in this area but at present my Department has no plans to introduce any form of a so-called earned regularisation scheme. It remains 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 great majority of migrants comply with this condition.

If a person is undocumented his/her case can be considered on its merits by officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department. Such cases are presented on a regular basis. Part of this consideration involves looking at the extent to which the person's situation is through no fault of his/her own. Other relevant circumstances, particularly those of a humanitarian nature, will also be considered. Sometimes consideration of the case will result in a positive outcome for the applicant. In other cases, the decision by the Irish authorities, subject to the oversight of our Courts, would be that the person has to go home. That decision should be respected.

Broad regularisation programmes are problematic and 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 significant considerations based on maintaining the integrity of the Common Travel Area with the UK which must be taken into account.

Any significant departure from well established policies in this respect would have a major impact on the operation of the Common Travel Area both here and in the United Kingdom which is of the most fundamental importance to the economic well being of the State.

Citizenship Status

 803. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the position regarding a person born in Ireland in 1993 to French parents who lived here until six years of age; if the person is automatically entitled to Irish citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14103/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, a child born in the island of Ireland prior to 1 January 2005 is entitled to be an Irish citizen. Citizenship can be established in this case by making an application for an Irish passport to the Passport Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


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