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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 479-503
 Header Item Prison Staff
 Header Item Online Safety
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Closed-Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Irish Prison Service
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Naturalisation Eligibility
 Header Item Naturalisation Applications
 Header Item Naturalisation Eligibility
 Header Item Nursing Homes Support Scheme
 Header Item Health Services Staff
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Disability Support Services

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 7

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 479-503

Prison Staff

 479. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her plans to publish the reports received by her Department from prison chaplains in 2020; her plans to publish an annual report on such reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44363/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Irish Prison Service is committed to the provision of safe, secure and humane custody for people who are sent to prison in this State. The Deputy will be aware of their outstanding record of safeguarding those in their care during the current pandemic.

  The Chaplaincy Service is independent and professional, while working as part of the prison multi-disciplinary team reporting to the Governor. Chaplains have a crucial supporting role in prison life by providing pastoral and spiritual care to any prisoners who wish to avail of the service.

  Each Chaplain is required under Rule 119(1) of the Prison Rules to submit a report to the Director General and to the Governor on matters relating to the provision of chaplaincy services in the preceding year.

  I understand that the Irish Prison Service recently published the full suite of Chaplains' reports for 2019 on their website www.irishprisons.ie and that going forward, all future Chaplains' reports will be published that website.

  As the Deputy may appreciate, I am regularly briefed by officials on a range of matters relating to the operation of the Prison Service and these reports will contribute to the ongoing engagement on prisons matters.

Online Safety

 480. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the position regarding the delivery of actions 13.1 and 13.2 of the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019; the specific actions that have been made to ensure industry signs up, complies and adheres to the ISPA code of practice and ethics; the current sign-up percentage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44387/20]

 481. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the position regarding the delivery of action 13.3 of the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019; if the engagement has taken place; when this extension will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44388/20]

 482. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the position regarding the delivery of action 13.5 of the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019; the results that have been found from this; if legislation is required; if she plans to extend the powers of proactively searching for child sexual abuse material online to hotline.ie; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44389/20]

 483. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the position regarding the delivery of action 14.2 of the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-2019; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44390/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I propose to take Questions Nos. 480 to 483, inclusive, together.

  The Government remains committed to improving online safety and a range of measures in this regard are included in the new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future. In addition, my Department continues to implement the commitments made under the Action Plan for Online Safety 2018-19 which fall under its remit.

  As the Deputy will be aware, actions 13.1 and 13.2 from the Action Plan for Online Safety commit my Department to conducting a review of current codes of practice and ethics with a view to deepening cooperation with the industry for taking down child abuse and other illegal material, and to increasing participation by Internet Service Providers in the code of practice and ethics.

  In May 2019, my Department organised the first of what is envisaged to be regular consultations and exchanges with Industry. The discussions between officials from my Department and the industry representatives focused on improving the existing structures and processes to report and remove illegal content as well as what a future framework for tackling illegal content might look like. Other issues addressed the current model of self-regulation, alternative future models and what forms of illegal content should be covered by these mechanisms and models.

  In July 2020, the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) completed a rebranding of Hotline.ie and published a new Code of Practice for member companies. The corporate rebranding, alongside changes made to the Code of Practice, demonstrates the broadening application of this national reporting service beyond traditional internet service providers to all parts of the tech industry.

  The new Hotline.ie Code of Practice features guidance on general good practice, clear and detailed 'Notice and Takedown' procedures for member companies, regulations regarding breaches of the code, complaints procedures, adjudication procedures as well as sanctions and remedies.

  I have issued letters to 87 ISP companies, who are not currently Hotline.ie members, to encourage them to become members and to participate in this new Code of Practice. In addition, copies of the new Code of Practice, and a letter encouraging continued membership, was also sent to all current member companies. I understand that discussions are currently ongoing between Hotline.ie and a number of companies to finalise their membership. My Department is in the process of organising a targeted event, provisionally scheduled for Q1 2021, with a view to further highlighting the importance of corporate membership of the national reporting service.

  The Deputy will also be aware that Action 13.3 of the Action Plan for Online Safety states "We will engage with providers to extend the Garda blocking initiative to those providers with the largest share of the market".

  The Garda Blocking Initiative (GBI) is a voluntary scheme, overseen by my Department, under which Irish ISPs and An Garda Síochána collaborate to block access to illegal child sexual abuse material (CSAM), in accordance with provisions contained in the 2011 Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

  Under the scheme, An Garda Síochána provides ISPs with a list of websites verified by AGS as having been used in the distribution of material depicting the sexual abuse of children, defined as child pornography by Section 2 of the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, as amended. The ISP's agree to block access to these web pages and any customer attempting to land on the page is instead redirected to a Garda stop page which outlines why access has been blocked and provides an email address for any related queries. The purpose of preventing access to such pages is to protect consumers, including children, from viewing documented CSAM and to prevent the further exploitation of children who have already been abused and photographed.

  The successful extension of the Garda Blocking Initiative (GBI) under Action 13.3 was a direct result of consultations organised by my Department with An Garda Síochána and Irish ISPs over a number of months in 2019. I am pleased that the Industry sign-up to the GBI has now increased from one ISP to seven. The seven ISPs between them hold over 90% of the market share for the provision of fixed broadband services across Ireland and over 95% of the retail mobile market. An Garda Síochána have signed memoranda of understanding with each of the ISPs concerned. An Garda Síochána held an event on 10 February 2020 to officially launch the expansion of the scheme and to coincide with the 2020 Safer Internet Day on 11 February.

  My Department maintains an active watching brief in relation to technology and policy developments associated with action 13.5 – addressing the need to explore the feasibility of proactively engaging in searches for CSAM online. While this action has been achieved, my Department remains open to further activity in this area, given the rapid evolution of the online space.

  Prior to the launch of the Action Plan for Online Safety, An Garda Síochána initiated Operation Ketch, an ongoing Child Protection operation, undertaken in cooperation with international partners. Operation Ketch involves targeting those who possess and distribute CSAM either through online platforms or via File Sharing Networks and sends the message to persons distributing CSAM that An Garda Síochána will actively identify and pursue them.

  Proactive search was an area of considerable discussion at EU and international level throughout 2019. My Department's engagement on this action was central to a site visit to the UK's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the UK Home Office in early 2019, and was a subject of discussions with the ISP Industry at my Department's event in May 2019.

  Proactive searching is also a possible responsibility of the proposed European centre to prevent and counter child sexual abuse, under the EU strategy for a more effective fight against child sexual abuse, published in July 2020.

  Given the above, and also taking account of the findings of an EU Commission study published last August, work is ongoing to examine the need to renew and repurpose the operational relationship of Hotline.ie with key stakeholders across a number of fronts.

  Action 14.2 of the Action Plan for Online Safety commits to working with industry to publish regular transparency reports in relation to illegal and harmful content.

  Under this action, my Department has responsibility for 'Illegal Content', while 'Harmful Content', as addressed in the recently published Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

  Work is ongoing in my Department under this action in relation to illegal content through preparations on the proposal for an EU Regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The Deputy will be aware that political agreement between the European Council and the Parliament on this Regulation was achieved on 10 December.

  Once approved, this new Regulation will require hosting service providers to produce annual transparency reports. The relevant competent authorities of Member States will also be required to produce annual transparency reports.

  In addition, the Proposal for an EU Regulation on a Single Market for Digital Services (Digital Services Act) and amending Directive 2000/31/EC, published on 15 December 2020, includes a wide range of measures relating to illegal content online including transparency obligations which will be considered in due course.

Child Protection

 484. Deputy Martin Kenny Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the reason the State has only implemented 34 measures of Directive 2011/93/EU relating to online child sexual abuse material; if she plans to implement the directive in full or further; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44391/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can confirm for the Deputy that Ireland has notified the European Commission that Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA has been fully transposed. In response to correspondence received from the Commission, Ireland communicated further information on the transposition of the Directive to the EU Commission, most recently in April 2020.

Immigration Status

 485. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if periods of interruption of employment in, for example, the hospitality sector due to Covid-19 will be held against a worker when seeking renewal of work (details supplied); if not, if it will be sufficient to establish legal employment with the same employer at the start and end of the period with a period claiming the pandemic unemployment payment in between; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44417/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed have impacted in various ways on all persons in the State including those requiring immigration permissions.

Each application is examined on an individual basis and any person requiring a renewal of their permission should submit all relevant information for consideration. The Immigration Service of my Department will take into account the particular circumstances of any unemployment due to the pandemic.

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 is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

 486. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the improvements she plans to implement to the closed-circuit television, CCTV, scheme due to difficulties encountered by community groups in availing of it as structured at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44469/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will be aware, community-based CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006. This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

  - be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee;

  - have the prior support of the relevant Local Authority, which must also act as data controller; and

  - have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

  This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded. These key legal requirements have not changed since 2006. The option to establish a Community CCTV scheme is available to groups that meet these legal requirements, anywhere in the country.

  Since 2017, my Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area. I can inform the Deputy that my Department is not aware of any issues with the scheme that would prevent appropriate groups from applying to it. If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the grant aid scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie. I can further inform the Deputy that support and guidance from my Department is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address: fundsadmin-comm-based-cctv@justice.ie.

  I can also inform the Deputy that work is at an advanced stage in my Department to prepare a General Scheme of a Bill to provide statutory underpinning for Garda overt recording, which will include CCTV authorised in local communities by the Garda Commissioner. When enacted, this legislation will replace Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

  Once the General Scheme of the proposed new legislation on digital recordings has been published, a further review of the terms and conditions of the scheme will be carried out in the first half of 2021, to bring it into line with the proposals for this new legislation, and in keeping with the commitment in the new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future.

Garda Deployment

 487. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will ensure that adequate policing resources are provided in the Border region to deal with cross-Border criminal activity by persons and organised gangs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44522/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána including allocation of personnel and resources.

  An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. The significant level of funding provided over recent years is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now some 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff.  The Budget allocation also provides for an increase in supervisory ranks at Sergeant and Inspector level.

  More Garda recruits and more Garda staff means extra members of the service on the front line and in specialist units battling organised crime groups, supporting victims, and keeping people safe.

  The Deputy will also be aware that there is close and ongoing co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in respect of all aspects of policing. In addition, there are a number of structured and targeted co-operation mechanisms.

  The Cross Border Policing Strategy aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, and to disrupt criminal activity and enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island of Ireland. The Strategy was renewed in 2015 and covers an extensive range of policing activities.

  The annual Cross Border Conference on Organised Crime further enhances cooperation between law enforcement agencies. Its aim is to enhance understanding and cooperation between law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, particularly in relation to cross border organised criminality and related issues. I can inform the Deputy that I am addressing the 18th annual Cross Border Conference webinar alongside Naomi Long MLA, Minister for Justice - Northern Ireland, the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, Simon Byrne, today 17th December.

  In November 2015, the British and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive agreed a series of measures in the Fresh Start agreement as part of a concerted and enhanced effort to tackle organised and cross jurisdictional crime. These measures included the creation of the Joint Agency Task Force. The Task Force is led by senior officers from An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners and UK (HM) Revenue and Customs. A number of other relevant bodies, including the National Crime Agency and the Criminal Assets Bureau are also involved in operational activity where appropriate.

  There has been very considerable operational activity, with a variety of different operations undertaken, since the establishment of the Task Force. The Task Force has had a number of significant successes in countering organised criminality on both sides of the border. During my recent meeting with the Northern Ireland Justice Minister, Naomi Long, on 27 November last, An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland updated us on the work of the cross border Joint Agency Task Force.

  I can further inform the Deputy that the close cooperation was further developed in November 2019, when An Garda Síochána and the PSNI established a Joint Investigation Team to address the attacks on Quinn Industrial Holdings and its management. This was the first ever Joint Investigation Team established involving An Garda Síochána. This is a significant step forward in cross border police cooperation and had been in preparation for some time.

Crime Data

 488. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of prosecutions and-or convictions under the purchase of sexual services section of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 from when the Act was commenced until 1 December 2020; the number of persons prosecuted and-or convicted who identified as sex workers in the legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44562/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee At the outset I would emphasise to the Deputy that prosecutions are a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions who is independent in the performance of her functions.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that since the commencement of the relevant legislative provisions on 27 March 2017, the number of reported incidents of 'Brothel keeping' and 'Payment etc. for Sexual Activity with Prostitute' are as follows:

Incident Type Reported Incidents
Brothel keeping 68
Payment etc. for Sexual Activity with Prostitute 131


  The 68 incidents of 'Brothel Keeping' had 39 unique persons linked to those incidents as 'Suspected Offender' to date; 32 of which were female and 7 were male. There were 22 unique persons that had either a charge or summons associated with the identified 'Brothel Keeping' incidents to date; 18 of which were female and 4 were male.

  There have been 131 incidents of 'Payment etc. for Sexual Activity with Prostitute' since the 27th March 2017. There were 63 incidents that had either a charge or summons where the wording of the charge/summons indicated an offence contrary to Section 7A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, as inserted by Section 25 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. The charges/summons identified relate to 64 persons (all of which were male), 63 of which are unique with 1 person receiving charges for two separate incidents.

  With regard to the information sought on the number of convictions, I am informed by the courts service that this information is not yet maintained in such a way as to provide the response sought by the Deputy. It can only be retrieved by way of a manual examination of each individual court record. As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, this would require the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources and it is therefore not possible to provide the level of detail sought.

Crime Data

 489. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of prosecutions and-or convictions under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 from the respective commencement of each Act until 1 December 2020; the number of persons prosecuted and-or convicted according to the categories of trafficked individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation or labour exploitation, forced criminality, forced begging and-or the removal of their organs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44563/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee At the outset I would emphasise to the Deputy that prosecutions are a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions who is independent in the performance of her functions.

However, to be of assistance I have asked An Garda Síochána to provide me with information regarding the number of ongoing investigations related to human trafficking. I will forward any information received from An Garda Síochána to the Deputy.

With regard to the information sought on the number of convictions, I am informed by the Courts Service that it is not possible to run a report on the numbers convicted for these specific offences but they have provided what information is available. This information relates to the number of cases and individuals sent forward for trial in the Circuit Court for relevant offences. The information is being collated by my Department and will be sent to the Deputy when it has been complied into a report.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.

  SUBSTANTIVE ANSWER:

  I refer to your Parliamentary Questions No. 489 of 17 December 2020 requesting information in relation to the number of prosecutions and or convictions under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 since the respective commencement of each Act until 1 December 2020; the number of persons prosecuted and or convicted according to the categories of trafficked individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation or labour exploitation, forced criminality, forced begging and or the removal of their organs.

  You will recall that I undertook to forward any information received from An Garda Síochána regarding the number of ongoing investigations related to human trafficking to you as soon as it was available. 

  I also undertook to forward information relating to the number of cases and individuals sent forward for trial in the Circuit Court for relevant offences.

  I am advised by An Garda Síochána that the PULSE incident type ‘Human Trafficking Offences’ covers offences under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013 with particular reference to sections 2, 3, 4, and 5.

  Table 1 below details reported incidents of this type per year and the number of those incidents that have proceedings against them (either charge or summons) to date.

  Table 1:

Year Reported Reported Incidents Incidents with Charges/Summons
2008 5 0
2009 57 5
2010 40 2
2011 39 2
2012 16 3
2013 21 1
2014 42 0
2015 37 4
2016 38 1
2017 52 0
2018 69 8
2019 43 0
2020* 38 0


  * Up to and including 17 December 2020

I am further informed that incident counts are based on reported date and were collated based on PULSE data as of 1:30am on 18 December 2020. Crime counting rules are not applied to reflect all recorded incidents. Results are limited to incidents reported up to and including 17   December 2020.

   

  Regarding the report on the number of prosecutions and or convictions under the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Act 2013.

   

  I can inform the Deputy that the majority of offences under these Acts are sent forward for trial in the Circuit Court due to the seriousness of the crimes. In the last 5 years only 3 people were convicted on one count each of the offence of sexually exploiting a child (1 person in 2015, 1 in 2017 and 1 in 2018) in the district court.

   

  The Courts Service have advised that it is not possible to run a report on the numbers convicted of these crimes in the Circuit Court as it would require a disproportionate amount of time and resources. However to be of assistance the Courts Service have provided figures for the number of offences and of persons sent forward for relevant crimes to the circuit court for the years 2010 to December 2020.

   

  The attached table 2 sets out the number of offences and of persons sent forward on trial for relevant crimes.

   

  Please note that:

- Courts can only provide data where offence codes provided on the system were used by prosecutors. Prosecutors may have used un-coded free text offences and any such offences would not be included in the data provided.

- A person may be convicted for each offence in that year and will be displayed on report.

- Where offences have been sent forward for trial from the District Court it is not possible to report on their outcomes from the Circuit Court Criminal System (ICMS) by offence, as they are all under the category of Sexual Offences.

Irish Prison Service

 490. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if her attention has been drawn to instances in which the Irish Prison Service is not facilitating remote work for employees who are high risk due to underlying medical conditions despite recommendations from the medical adviser of the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44604/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that all prison based employees of the Irish Prison Service are essential workers and are required to attend for duty during the Covid 19 pandemic. Due to the nature of the role played by prison service staff, the service they provide cannot be done from home.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has authorised Covid-19 Special Leave with pay for employees, but only in very specific circumstances; namely when an employee is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and is required to self-isolate or has had a positive test.

I am advised that the Irish Prison Service has identified workplace modifications and alternative duties for high-risk employees, which reduce the risk to the employees concerned.

The Prison Service will continue to engage with individual staff members on this matter within the parameters outlined above.

Citizenship Applications

 491. 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 citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied); if the original passports can be returned as soon as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44624/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement to comply with public health guidelines, unprecedented delays are being experienced in the issuing of acknowledgment receipts and the processing and return of documentation and the updating of records in relation to new citizenship applications.

During this period, the majority of staff in the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service are working remotely. The verification of passports cannot be performed remotely due to data protection concerns. The focus of the Division at this time is on the general processing of applications and new applications will be dealt with as soon as circumstances allow.

Applicants are advised not to send in their application during the pandemic if they anticipate that they may have to travel at short notice. However, I fully appreciate that people may have to travel at short notice for emergency reasons and the citizenship website advises that in these circumstances, applicants should email the citizenship helpdesk with the relevant details at: www.citizenshipinfo@justice.ie. Any request must be accompanied by appropriate scanned supporting material detailing the reasons for travel, such as medical information. This service is solely for the purposes of emergency travel and any request of this nature is dealt with promptly.

Residency Permits

 492. 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 arrangements can be made for a person (details supplied) to return to Clondalkin Towers, in which the person previously resided; the current status in respect of the person's application for residency status; if compassionate consideration will be given to this case, with particular reference to the medical circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44625/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order. However, they have made a request, under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), to have that Order revoked and this will be considered as soon as possible. The decision will be that the existing Deportation Order will be either 'affirmed' or 'revoked'.

Responsibility for international protection accommodation now rests with the Department of Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Youth following the transfer of this function on 14 October 2020. I am advised by that Department that the person should apply directly to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) at ipasinbox@ipas.cloud.gov.ie, with their accommodation request and include their name, ID number and the details of any connected family members.

Naturalisation Eligibility

 493. 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 when the immigration status of naturalisation will be facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); if the case can be urgently considered regardless of previous developments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44629/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that there is no record of a current application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy. A decision on her previous application issued by letter on 22 October 2018.

The records indicate that the person's permission to reside in the State expired on 22 November 2016. All non-EEA nationals are required to keep their permission to remain in the State up to date at all times, and to have such permission registered. Failure to do so may adversely affect an application for a certificate of naturalisation.

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.

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 is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Applications

 494. 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 urgent consideration will be given to an application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44630/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department contacted the person concerned on 31 August 2020, requesting further documentation.

Once these documents have been received the case will continue to be progressed with a view to establishing whether the person meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation. It will be submitted to me for decision when processing is complete.

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 is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Naturalisation Eligibility

 495. 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 extent to which a request for immigration access to naturalisation remains available in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44631/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The immigration case of the person concerned was considered under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and resulted in a Deportation Order being made in respect of them on 24 February 2020. Notification of that Order was issued by registered post dated 19 August 2020. That communication also advised the person concerned of the requirement that they present to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on 19 September 2020, to make arrangements for their removal from the State. I am advised that they failed to do so.

For those found not to be in need of international protection, a detailed consideration of all aspects of their case will have been carried out before a decision is made to grant permission to remain in the State or to make a Deportation Order. This includes a full consideration of their private and family rights in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights as well as consideration of their work situation, among other issues.

The effect of a Deportation Order is that the person named on the Order is legally obliged to leave the State and to remain outside of the State. The enforcement of Deportation Orders is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). However, I can assure the Deputy that both my own Department and the GNIB are taking a pragmatic approach in relation to the enforcement of Deportation Orders during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

If a Deportation Order is made, Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) allows an Order to be amended or revoked by making a request to me as Minister for Justice. In making a revocation request a person can raise new or changed circumstances in their case including in relation to their country of origin. I encourage people to be as detailed as possible in their representations to me and my Department so that fully informed decisions can be made at the appropriate time.

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 is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

 496. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the reason a repayment under the nursing home support scheme 2009 is being requested (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44212/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler As this is an operational matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Health Services Staff

 497. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when he plans to extend the pay restoration that has commenced for 50 section 39 organisations to the remaining 250 similar organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44289/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As we are aware, an agreement was reached by the parties in October 2018, in relation to a process of pay restoration for staff employed by 50 section 39 agencies, as part of a pilot exercise. Pay restoration commenced in April 2019 with an annual pay increase of up to €1,000. Any outstanding balance would be paid in two equal amounts in 2020 and 2021, if due.

The agreement reached at the WRC noted that some of the organisations which did not form part of the pilot phase are also likely to have pay restoration issues. It stated that a process of engagement to address this would commence in 2019.

Since late 2019, there was a number of meetings between the parties at the WRC, in relation to this next phase. The HSE have been costing this next phase of pay restoration and engagement has been taking place with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding a proposal to resolve these pay restoration issues.

I can confirm that following engagement at the Workplace Relations Commission on 9 December 2020, the parties reached an agreement. A payment arrangement consisting of three phases was agreed with the first two payments to be made in 2021.

Disability Support Services

 498. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if the HSE or the Department of Health has drawn up national guidelines for resuming the full range of supports for persons with disabilities and their careers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44442/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 499. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the new protocols in place to guide best practice in the Covid-19 context in respect of home-based care, personal assistants, transport to disability day services, respite and attending for specialist assessment and-or therapy.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44443/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Disability Support Services

 500. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the additional supports in place for persons with special needs and their families to help persons return to a structured day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44444/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 501. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the plan for persons with disabilities who live with their partners, spouses, parents and families in the HSE roadmap to reopening; the person they or a concerned other contact should apply for reassignment of pre-Covid-19 supports; the additional supports available to these families to support everyone establish daily and weekly routines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44445/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Disability Support Services

 502. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the plan for re-establishing respite supports for persons with disabilities, both emergency and planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44446/20]

 503. Deputy Mark Ward Information on Mark Ward Zoom on Mark Ward asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the process for families to flag their need for respite or additional supports for persons with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44447/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 502 and 503 together.

  The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

  As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.


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