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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 235-249
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Human Trafficking
 Header Item Human Trafficking
 Header Item Driver Licences
 Header Item Penal Policy Review Group
 Header Item Legal Aid Service
 Header Item Budget 2021
 Header Item Cúirteanna Dúiche
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item International Protection
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 999 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 58 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 235-249

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 235. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if funding will be provided for parents who have to take time off work without pay to take care of children who are sick, in particular due to Covid-19 when families have to isolate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30788/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The issue raised by the Deputy now falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. I will arrange to have the Deputy's question sent to his Department for their direct reply.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 236. Deputy Sorca Clarke Information on Sorca Clarke Zoom on Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her plans to reconsider Operation Fanacht and Garda checkpoints in view of the disruption to persons commuting to and from work. [30648/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including operational matters and the deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps all operational deployments under continual review in the context of policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

An Garda Síochána began implementation of the current phase of Operation Fanacht on 7 October 2020 as a high visibility nationwide operation in support of the Government’s decision to move the country to Level 3 of the National Framework for Living with COVID-19.

Under Operation Fanacht, An Garda Síochána has established a network of 132 large-scale checkpoints on main arterial routes. In support of these static checkpoints An Garda Síochána has carried out hundreds of additional mobile checkpoints in town and villages across the country over the last number of days.

The Deputy will appreciate that these checkpoints are in place to support the public health guidelines in relation to travel restrictions. COVID-19 remains a real threat to all of us and in particular to our most vulnerable citizens. This is a critical time for our country and we all have a responsibility to comply with the public health guidelines and regulations for the good of everyone.

The Government would once again ask people to re-think their journeys and to not travel outside of their county unless it is for essential purposes. This is a public health regulation under Level 3 and it is An Garda Síochána’s function to check compliance as part of the national effort to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

The Deputy will appreciate that fewer journeys means fewer interactions means fewer chances for COVID-19 to spread.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 237. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her plans to support small and medium businesses that cannot trade due to Covid-19 and are unable to meet their rental liabilities on their premises; her plans to introduce a pause on commercial rents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30660/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Government has introduced a broad range of measures and supports to respond to the needs of businesses that are experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular I am strongly supportive of the efforts being made by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation to assist businesses. Some of the key supports announced as part of the Budget are:

- VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9% from 1st of November 2020, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the Hospitality and Tourism sector.

- Extension of the commercial rates holiday, which will reduce costs for businesses.

- New Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), will offer a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to Covid-19.

- Extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme through 2021, should it be required.

- Illness benefit will be available on Day 3 of illness, rather than Day 6.

- The €3.4bn Recovery Fund will give us the firepower we need to protect jobs.

- €10.1bn infrastructure spending in 2021, the largest ever, ensuring there is work for the construction sector and we continue to deliver homes, schools and public transport.

- For the self-employed, increasing Earned Income Credit up to €1,650 – the same as the employee tax credit for PAYE workers – from this year, as well as fact that self-employed taxpayers will be able to warehouse their 2020 preliminary tax liability, will bring immediate relief.

  On 1 October, the Government published a new voluntary Code of Conduct between Landlords and Tenants for Commercial Rents. The Code, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government, has been developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including IBEC, Retail Excellence Ireland, Chambers Ireland and Irish Institutional Property. It is based on an approach taken in other jurisdictions, including Australia, France and the UK.

  The Code sets out how the relevant parties can work together to get through these uncertain times. Landlords should be willing to do what they can to help their tenants to continue to operate rather than facing the risk of a vacant premises and inability to obtain new tenants. Equally, tenants should pay what they can and speak with their landlord when difficulties arise.

  The Code can be found here:

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Code-of-Conduct-between-Landlords-and-Tenants-for-Commercial-Rents.html    

  Where commercial rents are concerned, this area of the law is very complex and characterized by a multiplicity of contractual arrangements that reflect the diversity of the landlord and tenant relationship in the commercial sphere. I urge all parties to commercial leases to show forbearance and understanding during this very difficult time.

Visa Applications

 238. 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 average waiting times for the processing of visa applications; if the waiting times have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic; the measures that will be taken to increase staff numbers in her Department to bring waiting times down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30669/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Decisions regarding the grant or refusal of visas are made in a number of Visa Offices overseas, in the Immigration Service Visa Office in Dublin, and at Embassies of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which process certain visa applications under delegated sanction from my Department. The processing time for visas in each location is determined by a number of factors, such as the volumes and complexity of applications, peak application periods and the resources available. While every effort is made to process such applications as quickly as possible, processing times inevitably vary as a result of these factors.

  In line with public health advice, the Immigration Service has implemented measures to help in reducing the spread of the virus, including the implementation of remote working for staff in order to comply with social and physical distancing measures. Unfortunately, these measures have impacted on processing capacity. The Immigration Service is currently implementing a series of actions to address these impacts, including in the area of visa processing.

  A limited resumption of visa services commenced from 22 June 2020. During this initial resumption phase, only Long Stay “D” visa applications, including Study, are accepted as well as those identified under our current criteria as Emergency/Priority visas. It remains the position that we are not yet accepting any short stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria. All visas where the person wishes to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days are termed long stay. There are a number of different types of long-stay visas.

  The Dublin Office is currently processing:

- Employment Visas received on 6/10/2020

- Study Visas received on 02/9/2020

- Join Family Visas received on 24/10/2019 or 01/05/2020 – depending on the family member in Ireland

  The current processing times are published each Tuesday on the Immigration Service website at:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Visa%20Decisions

Human Trafficking

 239. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the steps she is taking to review and introduce further regulations to protect workers in the fishing sector in view of an organisation (details supplied) grading the Government an F for the third year running for failing to protect workers in the fishing industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30721/20]

 240. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her plans to review regulations to protect potential trafficking victims in the fishing sector in view of the downgrading of Ireland to a tier 2 watch list country for not doing enough to combat trafficking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30722/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together.

I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport that Ireland supports the International Labour Organisation Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (No. 188), which seeks to ensure decent conditions of work in the commercial fishing sector. I am further informed that a provision is to be included in the Merchant Shipping (International Conventions) Bill currently being prepared by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport which will enable Ireland to ratify and implement the ILO Work in Fishing Convention.

I understand that secondary legislation is also required in order to facilitate compliance with obligations under the Convention. Furthermore, I also understand that work is at an advanced stage in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on the transposition of EU Directive 2017/159 which will implement the standards of the Convention. The Directive aims to enhance the working and living conditions for fishers working on vessels registered in an EU Member State.

In November 2015, following the publication of claims of possible exploitation of undocumented migrant workers on Irish fishing trawlers in the Guardian newspaper, an interdepartmental Task Force on Non-EEA Workers in the Irish Fishing Industry was established by the Government to examine the specific issues identified in the newspaper report and to make recommendations on appropriate actions.

The Report of the Government Task Force recommended the establishment of a sector-specific Atypical Worker Permission system that would provide a structured and transparent framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish commercial sea-fishing fleet.

The Scheme provided for the first time a framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish fishing fleet. The Scheme sets down minimum terms and conditions of employment applicable to non-EEA fishers which are in line with the general statutory terms and conditions applicable to workers more generally in the State. The Scheme was welcomed as a solution to the risk of exploitation and to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the Scheme.

This new AWS scheme was not a regularisation of undocumented workers but rather putting in place for the first time a regulatory regime for the employment of non-EEA workers in this sector of the fishing industry. Once introduced, those employers and employees in the fishing industry that remained outside of the scheme would be in breach of immigration and employment law.

The Atypical Working Scheme is administered by the Immigration Service of my Department and its role is limited to providing the immigration elements of the overall solution. Various State bodies with oversight of the sector have roles in the industry in respect of how the industry should operate in respect of employment, health and safety and working conditions.

Applications to the scheme, prepared by a solicitor practising in the State on behalf of the employer, are submitted in the first instance to the Central Depository administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in order to ensure that the contract meets the criteria of the scheme. Thereafter an application is made to Immigration Service for an immigration permission. The Scheme requires that the crew member be provided a copy of their contract of employment in both English and in their native language.

The AWS scheme is monitored by an Oversight Committee chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Any abuses or otherwise of the employment conditions in the Irish fishing industry is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission, the Marine Survey Office, and other appropriate authorities of the State.

Where an individual believes themselves to be a victim of human trafficking or where another person believes that this situation applies, they should contact An Garda Síochána (AGS), or an NGO or State authority (e.g. WRC) who will be able to refer their case to AGS. AGS will be in a position to take the victim to a place of safety and arrange for immediate accommodation, food and medical needs.

AGS will refer the person’s case to the competent authority for the identification of victims, the Human Trafficking investigation and Coordination Unit (HTICU) of AGS. Where an individual is identified as a suspected victim of human trafficking by HTICU they will be eligible to receive State supports and services, including immigration permission, through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to assist their recovery.

Human Trafficking

 241. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress made to improve access to supports for victims of human trafficking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30723/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Government is fully committed to addressing human trafficking in all forms, including through the provision of supports for victims of human trafficking and by educating the public to recognise the signs of trafficking and be aware that victims of trafficking can be found anywhere and can be hidden in plain sight.

Addressing human trafficking in a holistic manner requires the engagement of various stakeholders and a number of key actions undertaken recently or due to be completed soon in the near future, including -

- The designation of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) as Ireland’s independent National Rapporteur for Anti-Human Trafficking under article 19 of the EU Human Trafficking Directive.

- The commencement of a review of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which criminalised the purchase of sex as part of a wider approach to protection of persons trafficked into prostitution,

- Engagement by the Department of Justice and Equality with NGOs to identify solutions to the provision of accommodation to victims of trafficking, particularly female victims of sexual exploitation, and in respect of which a further announcement will be made by my colleague the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth;

- The establishment of a forum for victims and stakeholders in relation to human trafficking, which has met twice to date, and which will examine the need to update the existing National Action Plan on Human Trafficking, including to respond to the commitment in the Programme for Government to adopt and implement a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking of women and girls;

- working with the Forum in a review of the National Referral Mechanism in Ireland, learning from best practice models in other EU Member States;

- Drafting legislation to strengthen the penal framework on people smuggling, thereby implementing three international legal instruments in the area and;

- The recent launch of a joint multimedia campaign between the Department of Justice and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to raise public awareness about Human Trafficking. The awareness campaign has two primary objectives;

1.Raising Public Awareness around the existence of Human Trafficking in Ireland and educate them to recognise the signs of trafficking;

2.Raising Awareness of Victim Supports. The campaign will highlight for victims that help is available and how to seek it. In the first instance by contacting An Garda Síochána but also by providing information on how to contact victim support services offered by the state, NGO’s and international organisations.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to enact legislation that encompasses relevant EU measures and the UN Protocol against the smuggling and trafficking of migrants and to adopt and implement a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking of women and girls.

The Second National Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking was launched in 2016. The Action Plan involves a victim-centred and human rights based approach with the ultimate aims of preventing human trafficking, ensuring an effective criminal justice response and delivery of supports to victims. Great importance is also attached to the work of multilateral international organisations who are active in tackling human trafficking, including the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union and Ireland continues to work with all our partners in those forums.

An Garda Síochána has committed significant resources to the investigation and prosecution of human trafficking in Ireland. A specialised Garda Unit, the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU), has been has been in place since 2009 to conduct investigations into human trafficking and provide advice, support and where necessary, operational assistance to investigations at district level. An Garda Síochána is also active in relation to trafficking gangs through work targeting organised crime - targeting their finances, their use of the internet and by working closely with other jurisdictions.

Driver Licences

 242. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the timeline for delivering the ability to apply for driver licences and bank accounts for persons resident in direct provision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30725/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The issuing of driving licences and learner permits to international protection applicants is currently being considered by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in consultation with my Department. While there are a number of complex legal and administrative issues to be resolved, work is ongoing in this regard.

In relation to the ability of applicants for international protection to open bank accounts, senior officials of my Department are discussing the matter with representatives of the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) to see how the issue can be progressed.

Penal Policy Review Group

 243. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the status of the Consultative Council on Penal Policy, in particular its membership and its work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30726/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Penal reform is a priority issue for me as the Minister for Justice and Equality and is reflected in the current Programme for Government, which includes a commitment to establish a Penal Policy Consultative Council to advise on penal policy.

  I am pleased to advise the Deputy that officials within my Department are expected to have concluded an examination of how best to take the commitment forward by the end of this year.

Legal Aid Service

 244. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the legal aid fees paid to solicitors and barristers in each District Court and Circuit Court area; the reason for the delay in the payment of fees from the time that the application is made for payment of fees to the date that same are paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30776/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Legal Aid Board provides legal advice and aid under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996-2017. Section 3(3) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 provides that the Board shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be independent in the exercise of its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made. I am advised by the Legal Aid Board that it does not record payments to solicitors and counsel by District Court area or Circuit Court area. I am further informed that the Board has received no details of any suggested delay in processing such payments. The Board requires that all completed counsel fee claim forms are processed for payment in a timely manner in accordance with the prompt payment legislation.

The Board reviews the extent to which this requirement is being met on an ongoing basis. In 2019 the Board reviewed 360 counsel fee claims and found that in the majority of cases claims were processed promptly, many within 2-3 days of receipt. It can happen, due to a variety of circumstances, including incomplete claims, that certain claims can take longer.

Budget 2021

 245. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her views on investing €1.5 million in an assistive technology passport in budget 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30863/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The issue raised by the Deputy now falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. I will arrange to have the Deputy's question sent to his Department for their direct reply.

Cúirteanna Dúiche

 246. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Dlí agus Cirt Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee an bhfuil aon rún aici an dlí a athrú de bharr breithiúnas cúirte a rialaigh nach raibh cumhacht ag na Cúirteanna Dúiche ordú a thabhairt chun ordú athshealbhaithe ar shealúchas a chur i bhfeidhm; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [30869/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Is é an príomh-mhodh chun forfheidhmiú ordaithe seilbhe cúirte a fháil, i gcás nach bhfuil an t-iasachtaí tar éis seilbh a thabhairt suas go deonach, ná ordú forghníomhaithe a fháil ón oifig chúirte (ar a dtugtar ‘habere’, nó ar a dtugtaí ‘habere facias possessionem’ san am atá caite).

  Foráiltear le halt 8 den Acht um Fheidhmiú Orduithe Cúirte, 1926, gurb iad cláraitheoirí contae (sirriamaí roimhe seo) atá freagrach as forfheidhmiú orduithe cúirte in imeachtaí sibhialta, ach amháin i gcontaetha Bhaile Átha Cliath agus Chorcaí, mar a bhfuil oifig an tsirriam ann i gcónaí. Ordaítear don chláraitheoir contae nó don sirriam leis an Ordú Forghníomhaithe an t-iasachtóir a chur i seilbh na maoine gan mhoill.

  Is iad príomhghnéithe Ordaithe Forghníomhaithe ná:

- Leanann an t-ordú i bhfeidhm ar feadh bliana amháin ach féadfar é a athnuachan trí iarratas a dhéanamh chun an Chláraitheora Contae nó chuig Príomh-Oifig na hArd-Chúirte;

- Ní fhéadfar an tOrdú Forghníomhaithe a athnuachan tar éis thréimhse sé bliana gan cead ón gCúirt;

- Ceanglaítear ar an sirriam an t-ordú a fhorghníomhú laistigh de thréimhse réasúnach tar éis dháta a fhála;

- Ceanglaítear ar an iasachtóir, nó ar ionadaí, bheith i láthair chun an mhaoin is ábhar don ordú a shainaithint agus chun seilbh a ghlacadh; féadfaidh an sirriam fórsa réasúnach a úsáid chun rochtain a fháil ar an maoin;

- I gcás ina bhfuil maoin, lena n-áirítear maoin chónaithe, ar áitiú ag tionóntaí, féadfaidh siad iad féin a ‘aturnú’, is é sin, a admháil iad féin a bheith ina dtionóntaí, agus comhaontú fanacht ina dtionóntaí tar éis úinéireacht na maoine a aistriú.

  Mar a thuigfidh an Teachta, nílim in ann a cheist a fhreagairt d’uireasa tuilleadh mionsonraí nó tagartha sonraí d’imeachtaí dlíthiúla. Dá mbeadh an Teachta ábalta an fhaisnéis sin a sholáthar, áfach, thabharfainn cuireadh dó dul i dteagmháil liom go díreach faoi na hábhair atá tarraingthe anuas aige.

Immigration Status

 247. 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 date on which it will be possible to obtain information in respect of the residency status of a person (details supplied), with particular reference to the length of time that the person has been in the immigration system; if it is in the interest of transparency and due process not to give information on the person's position within the system in view of the difficulty of some, such as refugees or asylum seekers, to source legal advice, and where they have difficulty with the language, if this person's case might be responded to in order that factual information will emerge at a time of noticeable increase in human trafficking; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30887/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee In order to maintain full confidentiality, it is not my Department's practice to comment on whether an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State. An applicant for international protection status, or their legal representative, should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

However, I can inform the Deputy that an applicant for international protection is awarded international protection, whether refugee status or subsidiary protection status, upon a declaration of status being issued from my Department. This is done on foot of a grant recommendation from the IPO or a decision of the IPAT to set aside a refusal recommendation of the IPO.

My Department processes the recommendations received from the IPO and the decisions of the IPAT in chronological order based on the date the file is received in that Unit. Once the necessary due diligence has been carried out by the Ministerial Decisions Unit (MDU), a declaration of status will issue as soon as possible.

My Department is unable to publish any information that would identify an international protection applicant. Both I and my Department officials are obliged pursuant to section 26 of the International Protection Act 2015 to ensure that the identity of any person who applies for international protection is kept confidential. Section 26(1) sets out that “the Minister and the Tribunal and their respective officers shall take all practicable steps to ensure that the identity of applicants is kept confidential”.

It is an offence under law (punishable by up to 12 months in prison) that I or any official in my Department would give any indication as to a person's status as an international protection applicant and thus breach their right to confidentiality. The right to privacy and its confidentiality requirements are especially important for an asylum-seeker, whose claim inherently supposes a fear of persecution by the authorities of the country of origin and whose situation can be jeopardized if protection of information is not ensured.

The staff of the Chief International Protection Officer and International Protection Officers are independent by law in the exercise of their international protection functions. They are also bound by confidentiality provisions in respect of applicants as set out in the 2015 Act. They will only communicate with the applicant or their legal representative in the processing of their application. To do otherwise would be to compromise the applicant’s right to confidentiality.

International Protection

 248. 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 if a transfer to the international protection accommodation services will be accommodated in the case of a person (details supplied); if the case will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30888/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The issue raised by the Deputy now falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration. I will arrange to have the Deputy's question sent to his Department for their direct reply.

Naturalisation Applications

 249. 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. [30889/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, continues to be processed.

  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. While most straightforward cases are now processed within twelve months, 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.

  If the person concerned has a query in respect of their application, they should contact the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department at: citizenshipinfo@justice.ie.

  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.


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