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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 61 - 80
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes
 Header Item Child Protection Services Provision
 Header Item Adoption Legislation
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Child Detention Centres
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Valuation Office
 Header Item Garda Misconduct Allegations
 Header Item Court Accommodation Refurbishment
 Header Item Immigration Policy
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 61 - 80

Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes

 61. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans to impose additional requirements on the programmes that receive ECCE funding to ensure that the programmes are of a high and consistent quality in view of the fact that the ECCE scheme funds such a variety of preschool programmes, from Montessori schools to crèches and quality can vary between programmes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15025/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I would like to inform the Deputy that important steps have been taken to enhance the quality of childcare provision including through the ECCE programme. On 4th May 2016, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs signed new Childcare Regulations, which came into effect on a phased basis from 30th June 2016. Some of the main changes in the new Regulations are as follows:

  Registration – Services must be registered with Tusla (The Child and Family Agency) before being permitted to operate. Before deciding on registration, Tusla will carry out a pre-registration visit to ensure that the premises are fit for purpose.

  Qualifications - All staff members working directly with children in pre-school services must hold at least a major award in early childhood care and education at level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), or a qualification deemed by the Minister to be equivalent. It is also a requirement of the ECCE Grant Funding Agreement that all pre-school services participating in the ECCE programme must hold a level 6 qualification.

  Management - All pre-school services must demonstrate that they have a clear management structure in place, and that each member of staff is aware of her or his specific role and responsibilities. All staff must be appropriately supervised and provided with training. As well as ensuring that all staff have been Garda vetted, the service provider must ensure that robust human resources procedures are in place for the recruitment of staff, including the seeking and careful scrutiny of references.

  In addition, funding continues to be provided for quality initiatives in the early years sector. These include:

  Approximately €1m has been provided to the Early Years Inspectorate of Tusla over the last 2 years to increase the number of inspections. My Department has funded the Early Years Inspectorate in the Department of Education and Skills to carry out education-focused inspections on pre-school services delivering the ECCE programme. This is to ensure a greater focus on the quality of the educational provision of the programme, and to identify poor practice or areas requiring improvement.

  The Better Start National Quality Support Service funded by my Department, employs early childhood specialists to work directly with pre-school services to support quality improvement.  The Learner Fund was introduced in 2013, and since then has provided financial assistance to thousands of Early Years practitioners in upskilling. Recently, my Department issued bursaries to Early Years practitioners who had upskilled to NFQ Level 7/8/9 in Early Childhood Care and Education. The next iteration of the Learner Fund is under design and details will be released later in 2017.

  Roll-out of Síolta and Aistear - €0.5m per annum has been provided for the national quality and curriculum frameworks.

Child Protection Services Provision

 62. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of children in Tusla who have a care plan; the number who do not have a care plan, indicating the length of time without a care plan; the categories of those with no care plan such as priority, high risk, low risk and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15024/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The latest figures from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, indicate that, in December 2016, there were 6,258 children in care. Of these, 5,854 (94%) had a written care plan. This is an increase from 90% (5,768/6388) of children in care with a written care plan at the end of December 2015. The additional information requested by the Deputy is not collected by Tusla. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that 14 of the 17 administrative areas met the target of 90% of children in care having a written care plan. The additional funding of €37 million which I secured for Tusla in 2017 should result in higher levels of children in care having a written care plan.

The placement of children in care is governed by Regulations which provide, inter alia, for the welfare of the child, the care practices, care records, accommodation and safety precautions. A care plan for each child who is received into care is required under the Child Care Regulations, 1995. The regulations stipulate that all care plans are to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis and sets out the frequency for these reviews to take place. A review of the care planned for the child under the Child Care Act, 1991, as amended, is a process to monitor and review the progress of the plan and to update it if required. A key consideration for the social worker is to consult with the child, family member, foster carers, and other people involved with the child to ensure that his or her needs are being met and that the care being provided is optimal.

  Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 40.

Adoption Legislation

 64. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the concerns raised by a group (details supplied) regarding the Adoption (Information and Tracing Bill) 2016; if she will address those concerns about the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15030/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill was published on 23rd November 2016. I have received a copy of Briefing Notes and Amendment prepared for by the Adoption Rights Alliance in relation to the Bill. I met with the Adoption Rights Alliance on 1st February and a comprehensive discussion took place in regard to all aspects of the Bill. In particular detailed discussions took place on the Alliance's view on the measures contained in the Bill to address a balancing of the right to identity of an adopted person versus right to privacy of birth parents. These measures are core to the constitutional law that the Bill strives to address.

  I wish to reiterate that my aim and policy intention is to provide as much information as constitutionally possible, as is available on record, to adopted persons. However in saying that, no matter what operational mechanism is utilised to achieve this objective, measures to balance the right to identity of an adopted person versus right to privacy of birth parents are required. Thus measures have been designed to achieve this including:

  a) a mechanism by which an affected birth parent could express a preference for no contact;

  b) a sufficient time period during which am extensive awareness campaign would be conducted to ensure the said birth parents are made aware of the mechanism;

  c) the provision to notify birth parents of receipt of application from adopted person for birth certificate information;

  d) an ability for that birth parent to make representations regarding the release of information - both to the Agency and to the Court;

  e) an undertaking by the adopted person undertaking not to make contact with the birth parent; and

  f) counselling and advisory services would be made available to all throughout the process while at the same time allowing the State to provide adopted persons with the maximum of personal information, if on record.

  I have asked my officials to take account of the issues raised by the Adoption Rights Alliance in its ongoing deliberations on the finalisation of the legislation.

  Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 28.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 66. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when she will publish the second interim report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes; the engagement she has had with Judge Murphy regarding expanding the scope of the commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15132/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am very conscious that it has not been possible to date to publish the Second Interim Report. However, as I have previously outlined, it has been necessary for me to engage with Cabinet colleagues on issues in the report which extend beyond my remit as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I briefed the Cabinet on the matter again this morning and expect be able to clarify the time frame for completion of this process within the coming week.

I am sensitive to the expectations of former residents and their advocates who wish to see the contents of this Report. My Department will contact representative groups to advise of developments prior to any public announcement.

In accordance with the legal framework under which the statutory Commission was established, it is my intention to consult with the Commission on this matter, and I will make further announcements about this process in the coming weeks.

School Completion Programme

 67. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when she will publish a new school completion strategy to further improve school completion rates, particularly in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15223/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am committed to improving attendance and participation in education, especially for vulnerable children. The School Completion Strategy is a commitment in the Programme for Government and is a particular priority for me.

I will work closely with the Minister for Education and Skills in developing this new Strategy. In preparing it, I want to make sure that it takes full account of a number of important inputs. Firstly, the recently published Review of the DEIS Programme, which targets supports to schools and students in the most disadvantaged areas will inform the development of the School Completion Strategy. The results of the DEIS Review will have an important influence, for example, on where we should target our attention for support in school completion.

Secondly, I will take account of the new Action Plan for Educational Inclusion which is focused on securing good educational outcomes for all children, especially those at risk of educational disadvantage.

Thirdly, I want the Strategy to be built on an improved system of governance and operational management. Tusla has already taken steps in this area to strengthen the operation of the existing School Completion Programme. This is based on the ESRI Review of the Programme that was prepared on behalf of Tusla last year and these reforms are critical in advance of a new strategy.

I want to ensure that the new School Completion Strategy meets the needs of our most disadvantaged children and that it charts a realistic, children-focused approach for the years ahead.

I hope to progress the Strategy in the second half of 2017, leaving time for the inputs from the DEIS Review and the Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. I think it is important to say that the School Completion Strategy will go further than the School Completion Programme does in that it will deal with school completion across all schools rather than just being limited to DEIS schools. The development of the strategy must be cross-departmental and inter-agency in nature to include all relevant educational and other partners; management bodies, statutory Education & Training Boards, representative bodies for school management, Tusla and the Department of Education and Skills.

Child Detention Centres

 68. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the progress made on the outstanding industrial relations issues at Oberstown detention centre concerning safety of staff and detainees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14778/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am anxious to see an early resolution to all the issues in the Oberstown Children Detention Campus (Oberstown). The safety and well-being of young people and staff in Oberstown is my primary concern.

The planned industrial action by staff which was due to commence at Oberstown on 3rd January was deferred on 22 December 2016. Deferment of the industrial action was secured following agreement for an independent review on health and safety matters including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff. On foot of the report of the independent review, a group has been established which is chaired by an independent expert and includes the Oberstown health and safety committee members, representation from Oberstown staff unions and a children's advocate. A recommendation on the options is to be made by the group to the Director of the Campus.

Additionally Oberstown management and staff representative unions are continuing to meet under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission in respect of the implementation of the Forde Framework Agreement of August 2016.

I am determined to ensure that Oberstown is safe and secure for children and staff and I will work with all parties in this regard.

Departmental Contracts Data

 69. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the number of private investigation firms hired by his Department in the past five years and to date in 2017; the names of the firms; the amount they were paid; if they supplied his Department with a report on completion of their work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15744/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has hired no such firms.

Brexit Issues

 70. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the position regarding the establishment of an all-island dialogue to deal with issues arising from Brexit. [15511/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Consultation is a core feature of the Government’s preparation for the Brexit negotiations. Following the first plenary session of the All-Island Civic Dialogue in November, the Government launched a series of sectoral all-island civic dialogue events. Led by Ministers, these sessions provided an invaluable opportunity to hear directly the implications of Brexit in each sector, including on an all-island basis.

  Sectoral dialogues have already taken place on the following issues:

  - Education

  - Agri-Food

  - Transport and logistics

  - Tourism and Hospitality

  - Children and young people

  - Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

  - Energy

  - Heritage, Culture and Rural Ireland

  - Pensions, Social Welfare Rights and Social Insurance

  - Human Rights and the Good Friday Agreement

  - Seafood

  - Agriculture and Forestry.

  Minister Flanagan and I hosted the second plenary session in Dublin Castle on Friday 17 February. This event built on the work of the first plenary and the fourteen All-Island sectoral dialogues which have already taken place. It provided an important opportunity to inform participants about our overall preparations for the Brexit negotiations and to capture the views of those most directly affected from across the island.

  A report of the Civic Dialogue process to date is available at http://www.merrionstreet.ie/en/EU-UK/Consultations/Dialogue_Report_on_Brexit_Compendium.pdf.

  Further All Island Civic Dialogue events and Stakeholder consultations will be held as required in the coming months.

Departmental Expenditure

 71. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the details of payments made by his Departments, their agencies or bodies under his aegis to broadcasters here in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, inclusive; the broadcaster to which the funds were provided; the reason for the payments; and if there are any reasons for payments to broadcasters in 2017. [14781/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar There were no payments made by my Department, its agencies or any bodies under the aegis of my Department to broadcasters in the years to which the Deputy refers.

Protected Disclosures Data

 72. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the process within his Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; and the number of disclosures received by his Department. [15082/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has a Policy on Protected Disclosures which sets out the process by which an employee (or former employee) of the Department of the Taoiseach can make a protected disclosure; what will happen when a disclosure is made; and what my Department will do to protect a discloser.

Under my Department's Policy on Protected Disclosures, any employee or former employee of the Department of the Taoiseach who has a reasonable belief in relation to one or more of the wrongdoings as defined in the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 should disclose the relevant information to my Department's Head of Corporate Affairs in the first instance. Where the individual making the disclosure wishes to do so, he/she may alternatively disclose the concern and relevant information to my Department's Head of Internal Audit.

To date, no disclosures have been received from employees or former employees of my Department under its Policy on Protected Disclosures.

Insurance Costs

 73. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the cost of insurance under different insurance headings such as public liability, buildings cover, employer liability and so on for his Department and each body under its aegis; the name of the insurance provider for each year since 2010, in tabular form; the number of current outstanding insurance claims against his Department or the body under its aegis; and the estimated cost of those claims, if available. [15187/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department and the National Economic and Social Development Office [NESDO] operate under State indemnity, a self-insurance model whereby the State bears the financial risk associated with the cost of claims. The management of such claims is delegated to the State Claims Agency.

  There are currently no insurance claims outstanding against my Department.

Naturalisation Applications

 74. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if a person (details supplied) can be accommodated with regard to a passport application issue that has arisen. [14808/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that Section 17 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that an application for a certificate of naturalisation shall be in the prescribed form and accompanied by the prescribed fee. Both the application form and the required fee are prescribed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011.

  Detailed information on Irish citizenship and naturalisation is available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie. The website also contains guidance on the completion of an application for naturalisation and an on-line naturalisation residency calculator which individuals may find of assistance in establishing if the residency requirements are met. Queries on the application process can be made by phone or email to the Citizenship Division, the contact details of which are available at inis.gov.ie 

  An application for naturalisation from the person concerned was deemed ineligible as the Statutory Declaration, which forms a solemn and fundamental part of the prescribed application form, was not completed. The importance of paying particular attention to the completion of the Statutory Declaration is stressed in the guidelines on the completion of the application.

  Each application is required to be supported by its own documentary evidence to vouch the application as well as the original of the applicant's current passport. While the passport is returned the documentary evidence submitted to vouch an application is retained in order to preserve the integrity of the case file and the process in general. The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation. There is no provision for the discretionary waiver or reduction or refund of fees. All of the fees payable under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 are kept under ongoing review by my Department; however, there are no plans to reduce or abolish or introduce provisions for a waiver or refund of these fees.

  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.

Valuation Office

 75. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the effects commercial rates are having on a small family hotel (details supplied) in County Wexford; her plans to address this issue in general; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15043/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Valuation Acts 2001 to 2015 provide for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property for rating purposes. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Acts and the making of valuations for rating is his sole responsibility. I, as Minister for Justice and Equality, have no role in decisions in this regard. Under Irish law there is a distinct separation of function between the valuation of rateable property and the setting and collection of commercial rates. The amount of rates payable in any calendar year is a product of the valuation set by the Commissioner of Valuation, multiplied by the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) decided annually by the elected members of each local authority.

With regard to valuation, Section 28(4) of the Valuation Act 2001, as amended, provides that a revision of valuation to a particular property can be undertaken only if a material change of circumstances has occurred since the valuation of the property was last revised. A material change in circumstances is defined as a change of circumstances, which consists of a new building, a change in value due to structural alterations of an existing building, total or partial demolition of a building or a sub-division or amalgamation of relevant property. The definition does not allow for a revision of valuation where the change in value is due to economic factors, differential movements in property values or other external factors. I am advised by the Valuation Office that if such a material change, within the definition in the Act, has occurred in relation to a specific property, the occupier can apply for a revision of the valuation in respect of the premises for a prescribed fee of €250. The relevant application form, Form R1, is available on the Valuation Office's website, www.valoff.ie, along with associated explanatory documentation.

Where the Valuation Office proposes to enter a new valuation or amend an existing valuation on a Valuation List, there is an extensive process available to cater for ratepayers who may be dissatisfied with the proposed valuation they receive from the Valuation Office. A dissatisfied person can make representations to the Valuation Office within 40 days of the date of the issue of the proposed valuation certificate. The Valuation Office will consider any such representations and may or may not change the proposed valuation depending on the circumstances of each individual property. If any ratepayer is still dissatisfied with the final valuation to be placed on their property following consideration of the representations, they have a right to lodge a formal appeal with the Valuation Tribunal, which is an independent statutory body established for the purpose of hearing appeals against decisions of the Commissioner of Valuation.

Having a modern valuation base is very important for the levying of commercial rates on a fair and equitable basis across all economic sectors. This has been the policy of successive governments for many years and is the express purpose of the National Revaluation Programme now being rolled out by the Valuation Office. The Valuation Acts provide for the revaluation of all rateable property within a rating authority area so as to reflect changes in value due to economic factors such as business turnover, differential movements in property values or other external factors and changes in the local business environment. The Valuation Office is currently engaged in a national revaluation programme, the immediate objective of which is to ensure that the first revaluation of all rating authority areas in over 150 years is conducted across the country, as soon as possible, and on a phased basis. This is a welcome and positive development which is long overdue and on which considerable progress has been made to date. Revaluation is an important instrument in addressing historical anomalies in relation to commercial rates for both urban and rural properties and between particular classes of property within a local authority area. In fact, the general outcome of the revaluations conducted to date by the Valuation Office has been that about 60% of ratepayers have had their liability for rates reduced following a revaluation and about 40% had an increase, a pattern which is most welcome and is expected to be replicated elsewhere as the programme advances.

The current phase of the national revaluation programme is known as "REVAL 2017" and covers the revaluation of all rateable properties in counties Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly, Kildare, Sligo, Carlow and Kilkenny where a revaluation is being undertaken for the first time since the nineteenth century and which also includes the second revaluation of the South Dublin County Council area. The revaluation in these counties will be completed in September 2017 and become effective for rating purposes from 2018 onwards. The programme will then be extended to other counties including County Wexford which is tentatively listed for inclusion in the next phase of revaluation to be commenced this year.

With regard to the specific case referred to by the Deputy, I am advised that it is not the practice of the Valuation Office to comment on the specifics of individual properties. I am advised that the property in question was last subject to a revision of valuation in 2000, at the request of Wexford County Council. At that time, the existing valuation was considered to be adequate and was not revised. However, as outlined above, it would be possible for the owners of the property in question to apply for a revision of valuation if a material change in circumstances has occurred in the interim.

Garda Misconduct Allegations

 76. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will confirm receipt of a file on Garda corruption handed to the Taoiseach at a location (details supplied) on 11 November 2011. [15364/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As I have already informed the Deputy on 22 February 2017 in my response to a similar question on this matter, a complaint made by the person whom the Deputy refers to in her question was referred to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). As the Deputy is aware, the IRM was established for the independent review of certain allegations of Garda misconduct, or inadequacies in the investigation of certain allegations.

As previously outlined, the outcome of the review in this case was that I should take no further action in relation to the complaint. I accepted that recommendation, as I have done in all of the cases referred to the IRM. The letter of notification sent to the complainant on 8 February 2016 set out the reasons for the recommendation made by the member of the IRM panel who examined the papers.

Court Accommodation Refurbishment

 77. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the poor condition of the railings at Carlow courthouse; and if she will ensure that remedial works are carried out as soon as possible. [14803/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will be 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 to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that it is aware of the poor condition of the railings at Carlow courthouse. Restoration work on the railings was to have been undertaken as part of the refurbishment of Carlow courthouse completed in 2002 but the Courts Service has advised that this did not proceed because of local opposition to the proposed realignment of the railings.

  The Courts Service has also advised me that it is committed to having the railings restored as soon as possible and I understand that there has been regular and ongoing engagement between the Courts Service and the OPW in the past two years to advance this work. Background work has been carried out, including technical appraisals and experimental repairs, and the Courts Service anticipates that restoration work will begin later this year.

Immigration Policy

 78. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her views on concerns raised in correspondence (details attached). [14812/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I refer the Deputy to my comprehensive reply to his Parliamentary Question No. 110 of 21 March 2017 in relation to this specific case. I understand that in the intervening short period the circumstances of this case remain unchanged, therefore there is nothing further to add.

Garda Deployment

 79. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of new Garda recruits assigned to each Garda division since recruitment resumed in Templemore in 2014, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14838/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am assured by the Commissioner that Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with the overall policing arrangements and operational strategies are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of resources and the best possible policing service is provided to the general public.

  This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. This year, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves.

  I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that, since the College re-opened in September 2014, a total of 839 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am also informed that another 750 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end.

  In so far as the allocation of newly attested Gardaí is concerned, this is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am assured by the Commissioner that the needs of all Garda Divisions are fully considered when determining the allocation of resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that newly attested Gardaí have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.   

  For the Deputy's information I have set out in the following table, as provided by the Commissioner, the number of new Garda recruits, since recruitment resumed in Templemore in 2014, currently assigned to each Garda division.

DIVISIONNo. of newly attested Garda allocated
D.M.R. EAST38
D.M.R. NORTH66
D.M.R. NORTH CENTRAL78
D.M.R. SOUTH66
D.M.R. SOUTH CENTRAL77
D.M.R. WEST77
KILDARE45
LAOIS / OFFALY36
MEATH26
WESTMEATH17
WICKLOW9
CAVAN / MONAGHAN21
DONEGAL13
LOUTH42
SLIGO / LEITRIM13
KILKENNY/CARLOW24
TIPPERARY26
WATERFORD24
WEXFORD28
CORK CITY20
CORK NORTH5
CORK WEST5
KERRY15
LIMERICK33
CLARE15
GALWAY9
MAYO3
ROSCOMMON/LONGFORD5
TOTAL839

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision

 80. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the level of funding which can be made for CCTV in smaller towns throughout the country; if such a fund is open for such groups to apply to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14842/17]

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am very conscious of the value that communities, especially rural communities, place on CCTV as a means of deterring crime and assisting in the detection of offenders.

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to providing investment in CCTV systems and that I have secured €1 million in Budget 2017 to begin a new round of community CCTV schemes in line with the Programme. I expect to make an announcement in this context shortly.


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