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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 662-686
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Third Level Staff
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Erasmus+ Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Shared Island Unit
 Header Item Third Level Staff
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts
 Header Item Telecommunications Services
 Header Item Wards of Court
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Anti-Social Behaviour
 Header Item Deportation Orders
 Header Item Prisoner Data
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Domestic Violence Services

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1003 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 662-686

  Question No. 662 answered with Question No. 642.

  Question No. 663 answered with Question No. 658.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 664. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the measures being considered to recognise the effect that high incidences of Covid-19 and new restrictions have had on third level students and their ability to perform in exams and coursework due in January 2021; and if he will work with third level institutions to bring about policies to mitigate same. [1156/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris With the deterioration of the COVID-19 situation in Ireland in recent weeks, HE and FET providers have been required to adapt again and carefully restrict the number of staff and students coming on-site. 

Institutions and providers are using their discretion to restrict onsite attendance, only allowing the most essential work to take place onsite. Local assessments of what can be offered onsite are focussed on activities that are not capable of being delivered through alternative means and are time-critical for students and learners during this period.

 Institutions and providers have been very careful and adaptable in using this discretion in planning onsite activities, taking account of the public health situation nationally and locally including the most recent deterioration, and are communicating directly with their students and learners about the activities that will be provided onsite and online, and the supports that are available to them.  Providers and institutions are also cognisant of the need to facilitate students and learners who do not have accommodation arrangements near their institutions and are not in a position to travel or who have specific health considerations.

Third Level Staff

 665. Deputy Darren O'Rourke Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the estimated cost in a full year if the student to staff ratio in institutes of technology decreased from 23:1 to 21:9. [1201/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I wish to advise the Deputy that, in accordance with the methodology used in the published institutional profiles, the information available to my Department reflects an academic staff:student ratio in Institutes of Technology of 15:1 (2017/18 enrolment figures).

  My officials have requested that the HEA undertake to confirm the updated ratio and the details will be communicated directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 666. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if practical classes at third level are still going ahead in level 5 given the high incidence and risk of Covid-19. [1244/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Government has agreed that Level 5 as set out in the Plan for Living with COVID-19 will apply nationally and will remain in place until midnight on 31 January 2021. Level 5 measures designate higher and further education as essential insofar as onsite presence is required and such education activities cannot be held remotely. On 6 January I confirmed that further and higher education will continue to operate primarily online with most activities delivered remotely.  In overall terms, all further and higher education institutions are delivering the vast majority of classes online.

As with the previous operation of Level 5 restrictions up to early December, those priority activities which can continue onsite subject to the appropriate protective measures, guidelines and local assessment include practical tuition, workshops and skills-based learning (including in relation to apprenticeships) and engagement with vulnerable learners.  In light of the recent deterioration in the Covid-19 situation, institutions will use their existing discretion, taking account of the public health situation nationally and locally, to restrict onsite attendance further, only allowing the most essential work to take place onsite. Local assessment will focus on activities that are not capable of being delivered through alternative means, and are time-critical for students and learners during this period. Reflecting the scale and diversity of third-level provision, further and higher education institutions are best equipped to determine where onsite presence is required.

  Question No. 667 answered with Question No. 640.

Erasmus+ Programme

 668. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the details of the scheme to allow for the continued participation in Erasmus+ mobilities for eligible students of higher education institutions in Northern Ireland; when he expects the scheme to be open for application; the way in which eligibility will be determined; the higher education institutions in Northern Ireland that will be recognised for the purposes of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1362/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris In the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, representatives of civic society from all communities in Northern Ireland expressed concern over the loss of access to the EU's Erasmus Mobility Programme for students in higher education. 

In responding to these concerns, the Irish Government has committed to providing continued access to Erasmus + higher education mobilities for students in NI institutions, now that the future partnership between the EU and the UK does not provide for this.  In implementing this commitment,  Ireland will seek to ensure compliance with Erasmus + programme regulations. 

With this in mind, eligible NI students will be able to register with Irish higher education institutions that hold the Erasmus Mobility Charter for the duration of their planned mobility. 

Officials in my Department have been engaging with the HEA, with representatives from our higher education institutions and with NI institutions to develop operational procedures for the scheme, with further meetings planned between NI and Irish higher education representatives in near future.

As I understand that current Erasmus mobilities in NI are funded by the British Council until the end of the current academic year, this scheme is planned to come into operation at the start of the next academic year in September 2021.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 669. Deputy Johnny Mythen Information on Johnny Mythen Zoom on Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the policy in place in terms of third level students who are required to complete a work placement as a part of their studies but are unable to do so due to Covid-19 public health guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1363/21]

 670. Deputy Johnny Mythen Information on Johnny Mythen Zoom on Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if students who are required to complete a work placement to obtain their qualifications but who cannot due to Covid-19 public health advice will have to repeat this work placement next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1364/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Niall Collins): Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins I propose to take Questions Nos. 669 and 670 together.

I appreciate that this is a time of considerable stress and concern for third level students and the challenging and stressful circumstances that students are facing are being taken into account by Higher Education institutions as they adapt and respond to the changing situation. This includes the consideration of issues around work placements for students. The national co-ordination group for further and higher education is also meeting on a regular basis, and is closely monitoring the impact that Covid-19 is having on third level institutions and their students.

Since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, both the higher education, and further education and training sectors, have worked proactively to ensure that appropriate and robust contingencies have been agreed and implemented in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders including Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), enabling the continuation of teaching and learning. QQI are also engaging with professional and statutory bodies regarding their work placement requirements for relevant programmes.

The further education and training (FET) sector has responded swiftly to the identified issues of work placement and work practice by putting together a series of contingency proposals to QQI for the current academic year. These arrangements will be kept in place for all learners seeking to complete awards for this academic period, while maintaining the integrity of the award standards at all times.

As Higher Education Institutions are autonomous, and as such are academically independent and are entitled to regulate their own academic affairs and administrative processes, including in relation to placement arrangements, and as there are a wide range of courses with work placement options, students are encouraged to approach their institutions directly if they have any queries in relation to their work placements.

  Question No. 671 answered with Question No. 642.

Shared Island Unit

 672. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the engagement he has had with his Northern Irish counterpart in relation to third level opportunities in the north-west region in the context of the new Shared Island Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1508/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Last October, I had a virtual meeting with Minister Dodds, when we discussed a number of areas of interest for cross-border collaboration between our Departments.  This work is to be taken forward by Departmental Officials and other key stakeholders, particularly having regard to the Irish Government's shared island initiative.

  My Department is also engaged with the Department of An Taoiseach on the design and implementation of relevant aspects of the commitments in the Programmes for Government, North and South.

  Once key projects have been identified, I plan to meet again with my Northern Ireland colleagues to seek to progress these projects.

  Question No. 673 answered with Question No. 642.

Third Level Staff

 674. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of a review (details supplied); if the review was carried out; if it has, the stage of the review; if the review has been completed; when the details and the outcome of same will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1610/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Department has committed to a review of the decision-making process in relation to the examination of complaints on governance issues at the institution referred to by the Deputy.

Steps have been taken to commence the compilation of relevant records and initiate arrangements for the conduct of a review and it is hoped to make progress in the coming weeks, allowing for some challenges arising as a result of the current public health situation.

Student Grant Scheme

 675. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the grants available to a student (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1682/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The main support available to students is the statutory based Student Grant Scheme administered by SUSI. To qualify for grant support, a student has to meet various criteria such as means, residency, nationality and progression. Approved undergraduate courses for the Student Grant Scheme 2020 are prescribed in the Student Support Regulations 2020 and in the Student Support Act 2011. It is not clear from the details supplied what course is being pursued in the UK however, SUSI grant funding for courses in the UK is limited to undergraduate courses only. In general, students attending approved undergraduate courses in the UK can apply for a maintenance grant provided they meet the terms and conditions of the Student Grant Scheme. The Regulations prescribe that an approved undergraduate course is a full-time course leading to a major higher education and training award which takes a minimum of two years to complete in an approved institution.

  Amendments have been made to the Student Support Act 2011 and the associated secondary legislation to ensure that students will continue to be eligible to apply for student grants for attending colleges in the UK for 2020/21 post-Brexit and beyond.  

  Students attending college in the academic year 2021/22 are required to submit their grant application to SUSI via www.susi.ie when the online application system opens for 2021/22 to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed.

  Tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners at www.revenue.ie

  Students attending UK colleges may also be able to apply for a student loan and/or other supports. Students may also wish to contact the relevant college in the UK for advice on the type and range of supports that are available in that particular college.

  Question No. 676 answered with Question No. 653.

Consultancy Contracts

 677. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the details in respect of his Department for outsourcing to consultancies of specifically Covid-19-related work, services or advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1793/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris My Department has not outsourced any COVID-19 related work, services or advice to consultancies.

However, while we haven’t engaged professional consultancies in relation to our COVID response, my officials have drawn on the considerable public health expertise available in the third level sector and sought advice and assistance on public health issues relevant to the sector. This advice has shaped our response, and was instrumental in the formulation of the roadmap and adaptation framework published by my Department to give further and higher education institutions guidance in relation to a safe return to on-site activity.

Telecommunications Services

 678. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the newly announced expansion of Wi-Fi in 90 locations to aid online access for students in further and higher education institutions will be able to include secondary school students and provide access for them also; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1878/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Eduroam is a service which could benefit all students especially with the increasing move to online education and dependence on broadband accessibility. Eduroam is a mature solution across Irish higher education where the large Education institutions have strong identity management solutions in place. Significant investment in identity management improvements across first and second level would be required before it would be possible to extend Eduroam benefits to schools.

Wards of Court

 679. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of persons taken into wardship in 2019 and 2020 for brain injury, dementia, age-related illness, psychiatric illness and other reasons; the number of persons under 18 years of age taken into wardship in 2019 and 2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44700/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The High Court has jurisdiction in wards of court matters and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. 

  However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made to the Courts Service who have responded with the following:

  2020 2019 2018
Brain Injury 31 45 32
Dementia/Age Related 173 218 221
Psychiatric 24 48 21
Other 62 53 49
Minors 19 21 23
Total 309 385 346

Residency Permits

 680. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if a temporary stamp is available for those with expiring Irish residence permits (details supplied) to ensure that no one is forced to emigrate during the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44947/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The person referred to by the Deputy has lodged an application for certificate of naturalisation, which was received on 11 August 2020. This application continues to be 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 as expeditiously as possible. If the person concerned has a query in respect of their application, they can contact the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department at: citizenshipinfo@justice.ie.

To ensure that people do not fall out of permission during the pandemic, six automatic extensions of immigration permission have been provided, the most recent to 20 April 2021. The renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions attach. In relation to persons with existing permission under Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive), the automatic renewal is subject to the requirement that the person is complying with the requirements of the Directive.

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.

Departmental Contracts

 681. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if her Department or State agencies under the aegis of her Department have awarded contracts to a company (details supplied); if so, the value of such contracts; if the contracts were tendered for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44790/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I wish to advise the Deputy that neither my Department nor the State agencies under its aegis have awarded any contracts to the company specified in the period 2016 to 2020. 

Anti-Social Behaviour

 682. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress made in setting up a special expert forum on antisocial behaviours to consider the effectiveness of existing legislation and to propose new ways forward including the provision of new powers for An Garda Síochána and additional interventions to support parenting of offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44799/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy James Browne): Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne As the Deputy is aware, the Programme for Government contains a number of commitments to build stronger, safer communities. A number of actions have been identified within this area and one of those is the establishment of an expert Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour.

The first meeting of the Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour was chaired by my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne TD, on 27 October. This was an initial meeting and more detailed terms of reference and a programme of work are in development.

There are potential areas of overlap with the Youth Justice Strategy, which is at an advanced stage

of preparation, and this will be taken into account in deciding the particular areas of focus for the forum. The Youth Justice Strategy is another action arising from the Programme for Government commitment and I hope to bring the Strategy to Government for approval with a view to publication as soon as possible.

In line with principles described by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, these actions recognise that policing is not solely the responsibility of the Gardaí and that a holistic approach across Government, with supportive actions taken by the various agencies and stakeholders in this area, is required to adequately address the concerns of residents in our communities that are adversely affected by anti-social behaviour.

Deportation Orders

 683. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of persons who have been refused leave to land at all ports of entry to the State since March 2020, by month in tabular form. [44828/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Border Management Unit (BMU) of the Immigration Service of my Department has responsibility for frontline immigration services at Dublin Airport only. Other ports of entry are the responsibility of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

  Under Section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004, an Immigration Officer must determine whether a non-EEA national should be granted leave to land and gain entry to the State. Over 99% of travellers are permitted leave to land under various legal mechanisms including the EU Free Movement Directive, their relationships to Irish citizens, work permit schemes, study visas, or a lawful permission to be in the State already. In a small minority of cases, a person may be refused leave to land for lawful reasons. In most of these cases the person is placed on a flight and returned to the location from which they departed on the same day.  

  The number of persons refused leave to land by the BMU and GNIB between March 2020 and December 2020 were as follows:

  Table: Number of non-nationals refused leave to land  

https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-01-13_pq683-13-01-21_en.docx">Leave to Land

Prisoner Data

 684. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of persons who have been remanded to the Irish Prison Service while awaiting removal from the State, not including persons awaiting extradition since March 2020, by month in tabular form. [44833/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee It has not been possible to obtain the information requested by the Deputy in the time permitted. The information has been sought and I will send it to the Deputy directly when it has been compiled.

Garda Operations

 685. Deputy Pa Daly Information on Pa Daly Zoom on Pa Daly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of adult cautions issued per Garda division in each of the years 2015 to 2020, in tabular form [44839/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will be aware, the Adult Caution Scheme was introduced to An Garda Síochána in 2006 having been approved by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).  The operation of the scheme is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána and the DPP, both of which are independent in the exercise of their functions. 

  I am advised by the Garda authorities that the table below shows relevant Adult Caution counts by Garda Region/Division. Counts are based on PULSE data as of 1:30am on the 4th   January 2021.  

  Data was collated from PULSE for incidents (of any crime category) for the years 2015 to 2020 where the suspected offender or offenders were issued with an Adult Caution.

Region/Division 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020*
             
Dublin Region 2,436 2,211 1,967 1,553 1,752 934
D.M.R. North Central 738 602 499 547 481 155
D.M.R. South Central 443 480 439 360 424 242
D.M.R. Northern 390 363 343 216 235 135
D.M.R. Western 383 325 262 163 319 182
D.M.R. Southern 289 237 212 184 210 152
D.M.R. Eastern 193 204 212 83 83 68
Eastern Region 1,409 1,418 1,535 1,387 1,526 736
Waterford 277 269 303 204 298 144
Kilkenny/Carlow 166 194 266 214 253 88
Kildare 209 187 202 190 189 95
Wexford 159 197 165 199 188 101
Laois/Offaly 159 141 193 175 209 101
Westmeath 165 177 148 126 167 100
Meath 146 131 131 174 132 41
Wicklow 128 122 127 105 90 66
North West Region 1,269 1,234 1,167 1,266 1,232 625
Galway 486 397 345 327 312 152
Donegal 199 204 210 233 218 100
Cavan/Monaghan 145 125 152 209 203 92
Louth 132 144 144 136 170 104
Mayo 133 167 119 115 122 60
Roscommon/Longford 78 113 129 99 93 59
Sligo/Leitrim 96 84 68 147 114 58
Southern Region 1,773 1,712 1,623 1,691 1,726 826
Cork City 502 495 503 587 567 280
Limerick 414 428 341 364 334 219
Tipperary 224 224 217 197 196 69
Cork North 199 151 176 125 174 94
Kerry 199 158 153 138 207 51
Cork West 121 133 133 171 143 56
Clare 114 123 100 109 105 57
Total (National) 6,887 6,575 6,292 5,897 6,236 3,121


  *The various Covid related restrictions represent a unique set of circumstances which make comparison of the 2020 figures with other years difficult.

  The Deputy may wish to note that following collaboration between An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions, an expansion of the Adult Cautioning Scheme to include four additional offences has now been approved:

  - Offences contrary to section 13 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 (Trespass in a manner likely to cause fear);

  - Offences under section 21 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 (Control of access to certain events);

  - Offences under section 3 of the Casual Trading Act 1995 (Casual trading without a licence or contrary to the terms of the licence);

  - Offences under Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977/84 (Simple possession). This will relate to the possession of cannabis and cannabis resin only. 

  An Adult Caution for any of these four offences can only be considered in respect of an offence committed on or after the 14 December 2020 and cannot be applied retrospectively.  An Garda Síochána will continue to work closely with the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to all elements of the Adult Caution Scheme.

Domestic Violence Services

 686. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan Information on Christopher O'Sullivan Zoom on Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the exact amount of additional ring-fenced funding across all relevant Departments to be provided to domestic violence services in budget 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44878/20]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Tackling domestic abuse and providing supports for victims is a priority for me as Minister and for Government. I am working with my colleagues and with our partners to ensure we have an appropriate national response that supports victims and holds perpetrators to account.

As the Deputy may be aware, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency under the aegis of the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV) and is the primary funder of organisations that deliver frontline services.  I am accountable to the House for the expenditures and the services that are within my area of responsibility and am answering the Deputy's Question on that basis.

My Department provides funding for initiatives aimed at combatting domestic abuse and sexual violence and also provides funding to promote and assist the development of support services to victims of crime, which includes victims of domestic and sexual crime.

I have secured increased funding for 2021 for combatting domestic abuse and sexual violence and increased funding for supporting victims of crime. Funding of some €3 million has been secured for raising awareness of domestic, sexual and gender based violence and €4.104 million to support victims of crime.

These figures reflect the additional €2.3 million provided in Budget 2021 for implementation of Supporting a Victim's Journey - A plan to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases. This will help combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence, through the implementation of the O’Malley recommendations on Protection for Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences.

The government has been in a position to provide an Garda Síochána with significant additional resources in recent years. This has enabled the Commissioner to allocate additional funding to tackling sexual and domestic violence, including the establishment of a  specialised unit for the investigation of sexual violence, human trafficking, child abuse and domestic abuse, in every division.


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