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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 99-118
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item Pensions Reform
 Header Item Back to Education Allowance
 Header Item Foster Care
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Third Level Admissions
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Naturalisation Certificates
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Fire Safety
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Crime Prevention
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Crime Prevention
 Header Item Refugee Resettlement Programme

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 99-118

Departmental Data

 99. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the current HEO vacancies within her Department; the location and business units of such vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24293/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department, like all Government departments and agencies, is required to operate within a staff ceiling figure and a commensurate administrative staffing budget.

  The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, taking account of workloads, management priorities and the ongoing need to respond to new demands across a wide range of services.  This is to ensure that the best use is made of available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department.

  There are currently 91 HEO posts that have been approved for filling in the following locations and business areas:

COUNTY Total Business Areas
CARLOW 1 South East Region
CLARE 2 Mid West Region
DONEGAL 1 North West Region
DUBLIN 62 Communications Unit; Digital Adoption Team; Disability Policy; Dublin Central Region; Dublin North Region; Engagement & Innovation; Estimates Unit; IS Services; Low Pay Commission; Regional Services Unit; Staff Development Unit; Special Investigations Unit
GALWAY 8 Business Analytics Unit; West Region
KERRY 2 Mid West Region
KILDARE 2 Dublin North Region
KILKENNY 1 South East Region
LOUTH 2 North East Region
MAYO 1 West Region
MEATH 1 North East Region
SLIGO 4 IS Services; Illness Benefits; SWA Policy; North West Region
WESTMEATH 1 Midlands Region
WICKLOW 3 Dublin Central Region
Grand Total 91  

Pensions Reform

 100. Deputy Martin Browne Information on Martin Browne Zoom on Martin Browne asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on the need for some persons who work physically demanding jobs to retire at 65 years of age; and if she is examining the needs of the workers in this regard. [24375/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Programme for Government "Our Shared Future" commits to introducing a Retirement Payment for 65 year olds paid at the same rate as Jobseeker's Benefit without a requirement to sign on, partake in any activation measures or be available for and genuinely seeking work.  I wish to assure the Deputy that I have made the introduction of the new Retirement Payment an immediate priority for my Department.  The new payment will be introduced as early as possible for those who are retired from employment.  Officials in my Department are currently considering the design of the scheme and assessing the necessary legislation, ICT system requirements and administrative processes required for the introduction of this payment. 

The public policy and social issues in relation to funding a sustainable and adequate State pension system are complex.  The Programme for Government also commits that a Commission on Pensions will be established to examine a range of issues including contributions, calculation methods, sustainability, eligibility and intergenerational fairness.  The Terms of Reference for the Commission on Pensions are currently being developed and options for its membership are being considered.  Proposals will be brought to Government in that regard as soon as possible.  Once it has concluded its deliberations, the Commission will report to Government by June of next year.

In the meantime, the Programme for Government also sets out how the planned increase in the State pension age next year will be deferred and it will remain at 66 years pending the report of the Commission on Pensions.  I will introduce legislation later this year to do that.  

This Government is acutely conscious of the need to consider the sustainability of the State’s finances.  However, this is not the only consideration when thinking of the State pension age.  The State Pension is the bedrock of the pension system in Ireland.  It is extremely effective at ensuring that our pensioners do not experience poverty.  The Government is committed to ensuring that this remains the case.

 I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy. 

Back to Education Allowance

 101. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will address the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24383/20]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a scheme that allows persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments the opportunity to pursue a course of study, while still maintaining their income support, subject to satisfying a number of conditions. 

  The conditions include progressing in the level of education held by an applicant with reference to the national framework of qualifications.  An applicant will only be supported to pursue a level of education beyond their current level. State support for education purposes is generally grounded on a student progressing from one qualification level to a higher one. 

  Applicants holding a qualification at tertiary education level (certificate, diploma, primary degree or postgraduate qualification) will not be approved for BTEA to pursue a course at a similar or lower qualification level.   

  I trust this clarifies the situation for the Deputy.

Foster Care

 102. Deputy Martin Browne Information on Martin Browne Zoom on Martin Browne asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if additional supports for foster parents are available (details supplied); his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24207/20]

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman At the beginning of this public health emergency, Tusla’s Chief Executive established a national crisis management team to ensure service continuity for priority service areas.

  Services for children in care (including foster and residential care) were identified as one of these priority areas. Local social work team continued to provide services to foster carers and children in foster care throughout the public health restrictions.

  The support to foster carers included fostering link social workers  contacting all Tusla foster carers with regard to the children they are caring for and to offer advice, support and if required additional services to foster carers. Additional guidance was also provided to Tusla staff with regard to home visits and arranging contact for children in care with their birth families during this time.

  The extension of aftercare and fostering supports (including the allowance) for any young people in foster care who were turning 18 years during the pandemic was approved owing to the levels of uncertainty with regard to securing accommodation and/or future educational options.

  It might also be noted that a Tusla operated out of hours emergency fostering support service is available 365 days a year 6pm to 7am Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and 6pm to 7am on weekends and bank holidays to foster carers.  Foster carers can call the Emergency Fostering Support Service, the following types of circumstances:

  - Where a child is involved in a medical emergency.

  - Where a child in care has gone missing from care.

  - Where carers are struggling to manage a challenging incident with a foster child.

  - Where the placement of the child is at serious and immediate risk of breakdown.

  - If there are medical consent queries.

  - If there is an urgent query regarding the foster child’s birth family.

  - If an emergency situation takes place within the foster family, such as a bereavement.

  - If a child discloses a serious child protection or welfare concern.

  All calls are dealt with by social workers based in Tusla’s national office and will offer advice, and lead out on a plan of action to mitigate any risks to the safety or wellbeing of the child/young person in care.

  There is also regular contact between Tusla and the Irish Foster Care Association to update them on actions being taken and on any issues for foster carers that the Association had identified.

  Should the Deputy have contact with a foster carer who has any worries or concerns with regard to their fostering role, I understand Tusla would be more than happy to support the foster carer with their query.

Third Level Admissions

 103. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the approach he will take to equalise the position of students who sat their leaving certificate in 2019 and deferred their CAO application until 2020 in view of both grade and course inflation arising from the Covid-19 and the leaving certificate of 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24239/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The CAO system is a system that works on the assumption that grades obtained in the Leaving Certificate by candidates determine their points. It is on this basis that the CAO system allocates places to applicants including those from different years.

  For the 2020 CAO system to proceed to pave the way for entry to higher education for the majority of applicants within the current timelines, and in a manner than can be properly upheld, 2020 results and the results of leaving certificate examinations from previous years must be treated equally in the CAO system. 

  In order to help mitigate the impact of the changes to the grading system, I announced the creation of an additional 2,225 places on high-demand courses in Higher Education Institutions. These places have resulted in the highest ever number of applicants receiving a CAO offers, with 53,815 CAO applicants receiving round one offers on Friday.

  Nonetheless, there were fluctuations in CAO points this year, as there are every year. These are dependent on the volume of applications, the number of applicants who meet the entry requirements, the number of places available and the grades received by applicants. As we are in the midst of a global pandemic and economic flux, there is more uncertainty than usual this year due to factors such as reduced opportunities in the economy, students seeking to defer or re-apply in subsequent years and uncertainty around students travelling internationally both to and from Ireland.

  The full picture of the CAO 2020 application cycle, taking account of all supply and demand variables, will not be known until all places are filled at the end of the CAO process.  My Department will continue to monitor developments closely in collaboration with the higher education sector and the Department of Education.

Third Level Admissions

 104. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if his Department predicts a decline in the number of students travelling to abroad to study at third-level; the estimated increase in students accepting CAO offers as a result of a predicted decline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24369/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My Department does not collect figures on the number of students from Ireland who choose to pursue their third level studies abroad, and as such has no basis to make a prediction on the number of students choosing to do so this year. The number of students who accept CAO offers depends on a wide range of factors, such, and the full picture will not be known until all places are filled at the end of the CAO process.

Third Level Admissions

 105. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of new university places made available as a result of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24388/20]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In order to help mitigate the impact of the changes to the grading system, I announced the creation of an additional 2,225 places on high-demand courses in Higher Education Institutions. These places have resulted in the highest ever number of applicants receiving a CAO offers, with 53,815 CAO applicants receiving round one offers on Friday.

  A summary of the additional places provided, by subject area, is available in the table below: 

Subject Area Additional Places
Architecture 23
Arts & Humanities 476
Business 430
Creative Arts 41
Dentistry 18
Education 170
Engineering 313
Law 142
Music 9
Science 220
Information Technology 31
Nursing 134
Medicine, Health & Physical 218
Total 2225

Naturalisation Applications

 106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress to date in the determination of an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24203/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee An application for naturalisation in relation to the person referred to is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course.

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. 

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time. 

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department 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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited. 

Immigration Status

 107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress to date in the determination of an application for residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24209/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The persons concerned are the subject of Deportation Orders, signed on 20 February 2019, requiring them to remove themselves from the State and to remain outside the State. The enforcement of Deportation Orders is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

Representations have since been received on behalf of the persons concerned, requesting that the Deportation Orders be revoked pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). This request will be considered as soon as possible and the decision to either "affirm" or "revoke" the existing Deportation Orders will be communicated to the persons concerned in writing. In the meantime, the Deportation Orders remain valid and in place.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the Immigration Service of my Department 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 is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Immigration Status

 108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress to date in the determination of entitlement to residency status in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24212/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The person referred to is the subject of a Deportation Order made on 21 July 2009 and therefore has no entitlement to residency in the State.  This Order requires the person to remove themselves from the State and remain outside the State.  The enforcement of the Deportation Order is a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

Representations were received on behalf of the person concerned, pursuant to Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), to revoke the Deportation Order. Following consideration of these representations, a decision will be made either to 'affirm' or to 'revoke' the existing Deportation Order. In the meantime, the Deportation Order remains valid and in place and the person concerned must continue to present to GNIB when required.

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

Naturalisation Certificates

 109. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of cases in which naturalisation has been granted using section 16(a) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24230/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act.  

  Statistics are not compiled in such a manner as to identify those applications where a certificate of naturalisation for citizenship has been granted on the basis of Irish association.  The retrieval of this data would require a case by case examination of applications received during the timeframe specified and would represent a significant diversion of resources from day to day processing. However, I can say that there are currently 212 Irish association cases under active consideration by my Department. 

  It is open to an applicant to apply under Section 16(a) of the 1956 Act where the applicant is of Irish descent or has Irish association. Under the legislation a person is of Irish association if they are related by blood, affinity or adoption to a person (living or deceased) who is or was an Irish citizen or entitled to be an Irish citizen.  A civil partner of such a person may also qualify.  

  In such cases, the conditions for naturalisation set out under Section 15 of the Act, including residency requirements, may be waived on a discretionary basis. As such, applications under Section 16(a) are only granted where exceptional and compelling circumstances apply, particularly given the other pathways to naturalisation available under the legislation. The onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence of Irish descent or Irish association in the application.

  Further information in relation to making an application for citizenship/naturalisation and the appropriate applications forms is available on the Immigration Service website www.inis.gov.ie.

Garda Operations

 110. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of gardaí who are part of Operation Tombola in relation to the use of illegal fireworks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24240/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy may appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management and control of An Garda Síochána. This includes responsibility for the allocation of all Garda resources and as Minister I have no role in these matters. However Gardaí have informed me that the allocation of resources is kept under continuous review, in light of crime trends and policing priorities, in order to ensure their optimum use.  

The Garda Commissioner has assured me that appropriate policing plans and measures are being implemented, effective since the 4 September, 2020 and that “Operation Tombola” will remain in place in the lead up to and over the Halloween period.

Policing plans under the auspices of “Operation Tombola” include an overt uniform presence and covert element where appropriate. Local Garda management are engaged with relevant stakeholders, including with local authorities to identify, co-ordinate and implement an appropriate multi-agency strategy for the Halloween period.

Community Policing Gardaí will also liaise with various Community groups regarding alternative events around Halloween. It is important to note that this year the Community Policing Gardaí will be doing this important work taking full account of the implications of the regulations pertaining to gatherings in outdoor spaces made under the Health Act 1946, as amended.

The Deputy will wish to note that Operation Tombola also focuses on preventing associated public disorder and anti-social behaviour through the incremental deployment of resources, including Garda Public Order Units to augment local plans as appropriate and each District will prepare an Operational Plan to provide an appropriate policing service.

Fire Safety

 111. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if her Department has recently reviewed the legislative provisions in relation to the illegal use of fireworks; if such a review is planned; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24241/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee It is important to be aware that fireworks, because they are explosives, are regulated under national and EU legislation and can only be imported into the country under licence and stored and sold in accordance with the explosives law. Ireland has particularly robust laws governing the importation and use of fireworks. 

The Deputy may be aware fireworks are classified into four separate categories, depending on their level of hazard and whether they require specialist knowledge for use.  Category F1 is the least hazardous category and covers party poppers and sparklers, while Category F4 represents the most hazardous. A licence is required to import any category of firework and because Government policy restricts the availability of all hazardous fireworks to the general public, licences to import anything over a F1 category firework will only be granted to professional and competent operators for the purpose of organised displays.

The penalties provided for in connection with firework related offences are severe.  Under part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 having unlicensed fireworks in your possession with intent to sell or supply can result in a fine of up to €10,000 and up to five years imprisonment. Igniting fireworks or throwing an ignited firework at a person or property is also liable to the same severe penalty.

There is currently no review of these provisions planned but I would like to reassure the Deputy that my Department and An Garda Síochána engage in specific and targeted activities at this time of year to promote a message of public safety and compliance with the law. 

It may also interest the Deputy to know that in addition to the power to make arrests for the possession of unlicensed fireworks provided for by Part 6 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, a number of strong legislative provisions are available to Gardaí to combat anti-social behaviour more generally and include -

- the Criminal Damage Act 1991; 

- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994;

- the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003; and 

- the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 112. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the formal or informal arrangements for co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI in relation to the use of illegal fireworks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24242/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will be aware, fireworks, because they are explosives, are regulated under national and EU legislation and can only be imported into the country under licence and stored and sold in accordance with the explosives law. Ireland has particularly robust laws governing the

importation and use of fireworks which the An Garda Síochána have the power to enforce under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. In addition to the provisions contained in the 2006 Act,  An Garda Síochána have available to them a number of strong legislative provisions to combat anti-social behaviour more generally and include -

- the Criminal Damage Act 1991;

- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994;

- the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003; and

- the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.

There is ongoing close cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing. While this close cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI continues all year, at this time of year, in advance of Halloween, a significant element of this liaison work focuses on the sale of illegal fireworks. I understand that information is shared between An Garda Síochána and PSNI at local levels and where necessary appropriate policing operations are put in place on an intelligence-led basis.

At a national level, in the run up to Halloween, additional efforts are made by An Garda Síochána to combat the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks, under 'Operation Tombola'. Operation Tombola is a national campaign within An Garda Síochána which specifically focuses on preventing and detecting the sale of illegal fireworks. The campaign, which relies on Garda intelligence as well as high-visibility policing activity, also focuses on preventing associated public disorder and anti-social behaviour through the incremental deployment of resources which has proven to be operationally effective on a national basis.

Crime Prevention

 113. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if regulatory checks are carried out of licensed sellers and importers of fireworks to ensure that fireworks are sold only in line with legislative provisions; the number of such checks in each of the past five years; the number of breaches found; the number of those that hold licences for the sale of fireworks here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24243/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy is aware the importation of fireworks are controlled under law in the interests of safety and security. My Department issues licenses under the Explosives Act for the importation of all fireworks. However,  the more hazardous Category F2, F3 and F4 fireworks are restricted and these fireworks can only be used in organised displays conducted by professional and competent operators. Category F1 fireworks which present a very low hazard, negligible noise level and are intended for use in confined areas including domestic buildings can be sold to the general public. These very low hazard fireworks includes party poppers, sparklers and fun snaps.

  Before issuing any licence for the importation of fireworks my Department conducts checks to ensure that the fireworks are in full compliance with EU and Irish law. This ensures that only CE marked and safe fireworks are made available on the market in Ireland. Under this legislation the Minister appoints authorised officers who carry out inspections to ensure compliance with this legislation.

  In the last 5 years my Department has issued 2,096 licences for the importation of Category F2, F3 and F4 fireworks for use in organised public displays and 23 licences for the importation of Category F1 fireworks for sale to the general public.

- 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 Total
Import Licences Issued              
Display Fireworks

(Category F2, F3 and F4)
348 371 422  448  428  79  2096 
Category F1 Fireworks 5 23 


  In advance of Halloween each year my Department writes to all known importers, distributors and sellers of Category F1 fireworks to remind them of their obligations with regard to the importation and storage of Category F1 fireworks. In addition my Department writes to representative associations such as Retail Ireland, Retail Excellence Ireland, RGdata and ISME to ask them to inform all their members about the obligations involved should they wish to either import, store or sell Category F1 fireworks.

  In the last 5 years my Department has conducted a total of 84 inspections in distribution and retail premises regarding the sale to the general public of Category F1 fireworks and has noted 22 breaches of the legislation.

  Some of these were in respect of the unlicensed importation of non CE marked Category F1 fireworks and some cases were where the retailer had not registered their premises with the Local Authority as is required under the Explosives Act.
- 2015 2016  2017  2018  2019  2020  Total 
Inspections 44 16 6 5 13 0 84
Breaches of Legislation 10 5 2 2 3 0 22


  Finally, under the Explosives Act any person who wishes to store or sell Category F1 fireworks must register their premises with their respective Local Authority on an annual basis and so the total number of such premises registered by each Local Authority would be available from that Local Authority.

Crime Data

 114. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of reports received by An Garda Síochána in relation to the use of illegal fireworks in each of the past six months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24244/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from An Garda Síochána and this information is currently being collated and verified.

  I will write directly to the Deputy when this information is available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

The following information has now been received from An Garda Síochána.

  Fireworks offences incidents reported by month in 2020:

Month Incident Count
Jan 5
Feb 0
Mar 6
Apr 1
May 2
Jun 3
Jul 1
Aug 27
Sep* 15


  * Figures up to and including 13 of September 2020. I am advised that the incident counts were collated based on operational PULSE data and crime-counting rules have not been applied. 

Crime Data

 115. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of seizures of illegal fireworks in each of the past five years; the number prosecuted in each year; the number of convictions in each year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24245/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I have requested the information sought by the Deputy on the number and value of fireworks seized  from An Garda Síochána and the number of convictions from the Courts Service. This information is currently being collated and verified.

  I will write directly to the Deputy when this information is available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

An Garda Síochána has provided the three tables below which were drawn from PULSE. Figures for 2020 are up to and including 13 September 2020.

Year
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Seizure of Fireworks Incidents 154 134 147 130 52




  It should be noted that the number of seizures this year is up when compared to the same period in 2019. For every year since 2016, the majority of firework seizures are made in October. Within the incidents noted above, the data was further interrogated to determine the quantities of fireworks seized. The table below shows approximate numbers and value of fireworks seized.
Year
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Fireworks Seized 1173 1363 1207 1944 494
Value €22,628 €17,359 €22,887 €26,954 €4,646




  The final table supplied by An Garda Síochána below shows the number of unique persons associated with the ‘Fireworks Offences’ incidents per year that received a charge or summons.
Year
2016
2017
2018
2019
Persons Charge/Summonsed 24 20 26 25




  As there were fewer than 10 persons charges or summonsed, figures for 2020 have not been provided. This is ensure there are no issues relating to data protection. In order to reflect all recorded incidents, crime-counting rules have not been applied to the data in these three tables.

  Finally, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998 management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. The Courts Service has provided the information requested on convictions in the table below. This information has been drawn from instances where prosecutors used offence codes. It should be noted that it is possible for prosecutors to use uncoded free text when inputting offences; in this event, such offences would not be included in the table below.
Year   Possession of a Firework for the Purpose of Sale/Supply Igniting Firework Throw/Direct/Propel Ignited Firework Total
2015 Offences 10 1   11
Persons 9 1   10  
2016 Offences 7     7
Persons 6     6  
2017 Offences 5     5
Persons 5     5  
2018 Offences 3   1 4
Persons 3   1 4  
2019 Offences 5 3   8
Persons 5 3   8  
To July 2020 Offences 1   1 2
Persons 1   1 2  

Crime Prevention

 116. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the resources allocated to the public safety campaign in relation to illegal fireworks conducted by her Department in each of the past five years; the number of schools, youth or community organisations that have been visited in each year as part of the campaign; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24246/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy is aware each year as we approach Halloween, my Department runs an annual awareness campaign highlighting the public safety aspects of the use of firework and the illegality of selling, igniting or throwing fireworks, as well as the penalties that these offences can attract.

  The campaigns in 2016 and 2017 were predominately newspaper based, however,  from 2018 onwards have focused more on an online presence.

  The 2020 campaign will be launched shortly.  

  The costs associated with this campaign from 2016 onwards are provided in the table below.

Year  Cost 
2019 €17,840.81
2018 €29,090.89
2017 €36,676.44
2016 €34,680.70


  The figure for 2019 includes spending on research into the effectiveness of the campaign.

  In addition to the campaign run by my Department, at this time of year, special efforts are made by An Garda Síochána to combat the illegal importation, sale and use of fireworks under Operation Tombola. 

  Work undertaken includes promoting awareness of the dangers associated with the improper use of fireworks and of unsupervised bonfires through the use of the media, social media, school visits and information leaflet distribution by members and the Crime Prevention Officer.

Refugee Resettlement Programme

 117. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of UNHCR resettlement proposals that were received to date in 2020; the number of final decisions that have been made; the number of persons who have been granted permission to come here; the number of proposals yet to receive a decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24378/20]

 118. Deputy Francis Noel Duffy Information on Francis Noel Duffy Zoom on Francis Noel Duffy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if refugees from other war-stricken countries such as Libya are being considered for UNHCR resettlement here, particularly those with relatives residing here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24379/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 118 together.

In 2015, as part of Ireland's response to the migration crisis in central and southern Europe, the Government established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). Under this programme, the Government committed to accepting up to 4,000 people into the State, primarily through a combination of the EU Relocation Programme and the UNHCR's Refugee Resettlement Programme.   

To date, more than 3,350 people have arrived in the State under the first phase of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP). 

Most of the remaining people will arrive under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Admissions Programme (IHAP).  However, these people make their own travel arrangements, and so no exact timeframe can be given for when they might arrive in Ireland. My Department is committed to realising these commitments in line with our obligations under the programme. 

Under the UNHCR-led Resettlement Strand of the IRPP, a commitment was made to resettle 1,985 people, of which 1,913 Resettlements were completed by the end of last year.  A balance of 72 people remain to be resettled from Lebanon and Jordan to meet the full commitment.  Of this, 30 persons had been interviewed and selected during missions to Lebanon and Jordan in 2019.  They were unable to travel, initially due to documentation and health reasons, and subsequently the international travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19.  On the advice of the Defence Forces, it was not possible for staff from my Department to travel to Beirut to complete the selection of this cohort in late 2019. A successful mission in March of this year to Lebanon resulted in the selection of about 220 people who are currently awaiting travel to Ireland. 

Last December, a second phase of the programme was announced giving a commitment to welcome a further 2,900 refugees between this year and 2023 through a combination of resettlement and community sponsorship. In terms of resettlements, 650 refugees will be resettled this year, 700 next year, 750 in 2022 and 800 in 2023. The arrivals for the first two years will largely comprise of Syrian refugees resident in Jordan and Lebanon, along with a pilot group of Eritrean refugees resident in Ethiopia.  Any decision to amend the existing criteria or expand the current agreement is a matter for the Government and the UNHCR.

So far in 2020, no resettlements have taken place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other international restrictions on travel.  It is hoped to resume operations before the end of the current year and the IRPP staff in my Department are currently engaging with international partners to share a collective experience of how best to resume arrivals and the lessons learned to date.  


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