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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 712-736
 Header Item Cannabis for Medicinal Use
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Crime Data
 Header Item Garda Data
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Garda Transport Provision
 Header Item Garda Training
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Domestic Violence Services
 Header Item Deportation Orders
 Header Item Property Services Regulatory Authority
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Garda Training
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Bench Warrants
 Header Item Garda Deployment
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Garda Stations
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts
 Header Item Garda Equipment
 Header Item Garda Training

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. 712-736

Cannabis for Medicinal Use

 712. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the cannabis substances and products, for example, edibles, concentrates and so on personal possession of which will be considered for application of an adult caution by An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1051/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible by law for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. I, as Minister, have no direct role in these matter.

  I have requested information from the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter but it was unfortunately not possible to compile it in the time available.

  I will write to the Deputy directly with the information requested, when it is available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.

SUBSTANTIVE ANSWER:

  I refer to Parliamentary Question Number 712 which was for answer on 13 January 2021 where you asked “the cannabis substances and products, for example, edibles, concentrates and so on, personal possession of which will be considered for application of an adult caution by An Garda Síochána”

  You will recall that the information could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to consult with An Garda Síochána and to contact you again.

The National Drugs Strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery 2017-2025  , provides a roadmap to achieving these aims by promoting a more compassionate approach to people who use drugs, with addiction treated firstly as a health issue.

  In line with the recommendations of the Working Group to Consider Alternative Approaches to the Possession of Drugs for Personal Use, the previous Minister for Justice, along with the then Minister for Health and Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, announced the Health Diversion Approach in August 2019.

  This approach allows for persons who are found to be in possession of controlled drugs which are, in the opinion of An Garda Síochána, for personal use to be referred to the HSE for a mandatory health screening and brief intervention in the first offence. For a second offence, at the discretion of An Garda Síochána in consultation with the DPP, the option of the issue of an adult caution instead of prosecution will be available.

  An implementation, monitoring and evaluation group, chaired by the Department of Health, is implementing the health diversion programme. The Group is developing proposals to commence implementation of the programme on an administrative basis in a number of locations throughout the country in 2021. As outlined in the Programme for Government, a review of the programme will take place following the first full year of implementation, to ensure that it is meeting all of its aims.

  The Deputy may also 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.

  Whether or not the possession of any individual cannabis product or derivative, in any specific case, warrants the issue of an adult caution is at the discretion of the individual member of An Garda Síochána concerned, however the final decision to issue a caution under the scheme rests with the relevant District Officer or Superintendent. These individual decision and cases are operational matter for An Garda Síochána, and as Minister I have no role in these matters.

  I hope that this information is of assistance to you.

Brexit Issues

 713. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the measures that have been taken to ensure continuity of co-operation when it comes to policing on the island of Ireland following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1101/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee On 24 December 2020, the EU and UK negotiating teams reached agreement in principle on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which came into effect from the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020. The Agreement includes cooperation on law enforcement and criminal justice. In particular, the EU and the UK have agreed to establish a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. This will allow for strong cooperation between national police and judicial authorities, including with respect to mutual legal assistance and extradition.

Following the implementation of the new TCA, the Minister for Justice put into effect a planned range of measures prepared to ensure the relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom in the Justice and Home Affairs field will remain strong and that co-operation is maintained in the public interest.

Central to this are elements of the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2020, which was commenced on 17 December 2020. Parts 16 to 20 of the Act contain provisions to deal with the implications of Brexit in a number of key areas in the justice sector.

While the provisions of the European Arrest Warrant no longer apply to the United Kingdom, under the EU-UK TCA, the swift surrender of criminals between the EU and the UK under a new arrest warrant system, avoiding lengthy extradition procedures, thanks to streamlined procedures, strict deadlines, robust safeguards, procedural rights and judicial control, will be enabled.

The Agreement also includes a bridging mechanism, subject to certain conditions, pending the adoption of data protection adequacy decisions, such that for a specified period transmission of personal data from the EU to the UK is not regarded as a transfer to a third country. This bridging solution will mean in practice the continuing exchange from 1 January 2021 of vital law enforcement data between Ireland and the UK.

The above measures are of particular value in supporting the existing excellent operational cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI in respect of the full range of policing activities.

There are, of course, other international mechanisms that will also continue to be used to support international cooperation, such as INTERPOL in relation to organised crime matters and mutual assistance provisions.

There is also a range of mechanisms in place to facilitate policing on the island of Ireland. A joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy is operated between the two services. The Joint Agency Task Force is led by senior officers of both police services and other law enforcement agencies, and focuses on tackling organised and cross jurisdictional crime.

I can assure the Deputy of the shared commitment to combatting crime and security threats on the island of Ireland.

Crime Data

 714. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of homicides committed in Ireland in each of the years 2015 to 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1102/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Government is committed to driving down crime in all its forms, including serious and violent crime. To this end, An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021.

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

  With regard to the specific information requested by the Deputy, the Central Statistics Office have provided me with the information in the table below.

Type of Offence 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020*
Murder 27 34 39 39 36 27*
Manslaughter 9 8 9 8 3 4*
Infanticide 0 0 0 0 0 0*
Dangerous driving leading to death 47 43 44 38 23 30*
Total Homicide offences 83 85 92 85 62 61*


  * This figure contains data for Q1 to Q3 of 2020 only. The figures for Q 4 are due for publication in late March 2021.

  The Deputy may wish to note that these figures are categorised as Statistics Under Reservation. The classification of “Under Reservation” is in keeping with other jurisdictions and other statistical domains. This indicates that, while the statistics have been determined to be of sufficient quality to allow publication, ongoing issues mean that the quality does not yet meet the higher standard required of official statistics by the CSO.

Questions Nos. 715 and 716 answered with Question No. 706.

Garda Data

 717. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee further to Parliamentary Question No. 525 of 20 October 2020, if she has received the necessary information from the Garda Commissioner. [1187/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Parliamentary Question 525 of 20 October 2020 refers to the number of Gardaí by rank attached to each crime task force within Dublin as of 31 December 2019 and 12 October 2020 in tabular form.

  As the Deputy is aware the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources, and as Minister I have no role in these matters. I am assured however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that the table below sets out the number of Gardaí by rank attached to each crime task force within Dublin at 31 December 2019 and 12 October 2020.

DMR North Garda Sergeant Inspector
31 Dec 2019 20 1 0
12 Oct 2020 19 1 0
DMR South Garda Sergeant Inspector
31 Dec 2019 0 0 0
12 Oct 2020 10 0 0
DMR East Garda Sergeant Inspector
31 Dec 2019 2 1 0
12 Oct 2020 4 1 0
DMR West Garda Sergeant Inspector
31 Dec 2019 21 2 0
12 Oct 2020 26 2 0
DMR North Central  
N/A  
DMR South Central Garda Sergeant Inspector
31 Dec 2019 17 2 1
12 Oct 2020 10 2 1


  The Deputy may wish to know that detailed information in relation to Garda numbers is available on my Department’s website. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. This information can be viewed at the following link:

  http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Proposed Legislation

 718. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the current status of criminal justice (repeal of certain provisions of the firearms and misuse of drugs) Bill 2020. [1188/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne As the Deputy may be aware, the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2020, previously entitled the Criminal Justice (Repeal of certain provisions of the Firearms and Misuse of Drugs Acts) Bill 2020 was published last May.

The General Scheme provides for the repeal of mandatory sentences for certain second or subsequent firearms and misuse of drugs offences following the Supreme Court judgment in Wayne Ellis v The Minister for Justice.

I can inform the Deputy that on 8 December 2020 the Government approved the publication of the Bill subject to a waiver of the pre legislative scrutiny from the Business Committee. On foot of this decision Minister McEntee wrote to the Ceann Comhairle seeking a waiver by the Business Committee from the requirement for pre-legislative scrutiny under Standing Order 173. The waiver is being sought because the purpose of the Bill is simply to implement the Supreme Court decision and nothing more. Once the waiver is granted the Bill will be published.

Garda Transport Provision

 719. Deputy Darren O'Rourke Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if funding will be provided to replace the trucks currently in the Garda water unit. [1213/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will be aware that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. In addition, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am pleased to have secured significant capital investment to be made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million specifically for the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. The allocation of these and all other vehicles in the fleet is entirely a matter for the Commissioner and his management team.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number and type of vehicles that will be purchased in 2021 has not yet been determined.

Garda Training

 720. Deputy Darren O'Rourke Information on Darren O'Rourke Zoom on Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if all Garda road policing unit officers are fully trained in checking tachographs for potential offences. [1215/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy is aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible, by law, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the training of its members and civilian staff. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have contacted the Garda authorities who have advised that all personnel attached to Garda Roads Policing Units receive basic training in the reading of analogue tachograph charts and there are a substantial number of offences that may be detected from the examination of tachographs.

In addition, dedicated personnel within these units have received additional training in respect of the examination and analysis of digital tachographs. Each Divisional Roads Policing Unit has been provided with specialised equipment to allow for the downloading of data from digital tachographs and aid in the identification of tachograph related offences. Any such member may give evidence in relation to driver hours and rest periods, however, if a more detailed analysis of tachograph charts / digital tachographs is required regarding journeys, speed etc, this is carried out by personnel attached to the Forensic Science Laboratory

The Deputy may also wish to note that An Garda Síochána, with the assistance of the Road Safety Authority, have been providing ongoing training to all Roads Policing members in relation to the examination of HGV’s. This training is incorporated in the induction seminar provided to all new Roads Policing members and also forms part of the instruction provided at the annual seminar provided to all roads policing members.

While the restrictions imposed by COVID have inhibited the ability to conduct these seminars, I am informed that they will be recommenced as soon as restrictions permit.

Citizenship Applications

 721. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will provide a comprehensive report on all applications for Irish citizenship submitted since 1 January 2014 for each application under headings (details supplied). [1231/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The attached spreadsheet contains a series of tables that provide the details requested by the Deputy, in so far as is possible. In some instances it was not possible to provide data as to do so may allow individual applicants to be identified. Therefore, I have provided collated data on each of the headings where available.

  [https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-01-13_pq721-13-01-2021_en.xls]

  Due to the backlog of applications on hand it is not possible to provide details regarding nationality and application type for the number of applications received in Q4 of 2020. Therefore, details have been provided to end Q3 2020 only.

  The table below identifies the information supplied in the attached spreadsheet.

Requested Table
Table 1

Application Received Date
Applications Received by Year and Month 2014 - 2020
Table 2

Country of Current Passport
Applications by Nationality, Year and Month 2014 - Q3 2020

Where a value is less than 10 the value has been suppressed for confidentiality.
Table 6

Residency Location RoI / NI
Certificates Issued by Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Other - Post Nuptial Certificates or Irish association
Table 3

Application Criteria - Residency / Marriage
Applications by Type, Year and Month 2014 - 2020

The criteria provided are

1. Applications based on the status of the applicant as a refugee.

2. Applications in respect of Minors.

3. Applications by adults in their own right who meet the residency requirements.

4. Applicants based on the applicant being the spouse of an Irish citizen

5. Other - recognition of Post Nuptial Citizenship and / or applications made under S28a of the Act
Application Acknowledgement Date Data not available
Progress to Stage 2 Date Data not available
Background Vetting Date Data not available
Submission Date to Minister for Decision Data not available
Table 4

Application Approval Date
Decisions by Year, Month and Decision Category 2014 - 2020

Decision Categories provided are:

1. Approval

2. Ineligible

3. Refusal

4. Other = Application withdrawn, suspended, deferred or applicant deceased
Included in Table 4

Application Decline Date
Decisions by Year, Month and Decision Category 2014 - 2020
Table 5

Naturalisation Ceremony Date
Certificates Issued by Year and Month 2014 - 2020
Application Status Data not available

Domestic Violence Services

 722. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if a text alert system such as is operational in the UK for victims of domestic abuse is being considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1282/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can assure the Deputy that addressing all forms of domestic abuse and sexual violence is a key priority for me and my Department. We are continuously working to ensure that we have robust legislation, policies and infrastructure that can support and assist victims and hold perpetrators to account. We are also working proactively to raise awareness in society about domestic abuse and sexual violence and are working to change attitudes towards all forms of unacceptable behaviour.

Women’s Aid, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, and Vodafone Ireland, launched in 2019 the BrightSky Ireland App, a free app that connects victims of domestic violence and abuse to advice and support services across the country. BrightSky enables users to locate their nearest support service by searching using their current location, Eircode or county. There is a national directory and find help tool on the app.

I have been informed by An Garda Síochána that feedback from victims who have used the App is extremely positive, they feel the ability to have support information to hand in a safe manner is incredibly beneficial.

It may interest the Deputy to know that Women’s Aid, who run the 24 hour national domestic abuse helpline in Ireland, also provide an online instant messaging support service on their website and a text service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Women, in addition to their telephone services.

Deportation Orders

 723. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the position of her Department on deportations; if her attention has been drawn to the transfer order issues to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1285/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee In line with the clear commitments both I and the Taoiseach have given, no further Deportation Orders are being enforced during the pandemic, except in circumstances where there are national security or serious public policy concerns. My Department has consistently adopted a pragmatic approach in this area in the context of Covid-19.

Transfers under the EU Dublin III Regulation are not deportations. However, in effecting any such transfers a pragmatic approach is also being adopted in the context of Covid-19.

The Dublin Regulation determines which Member State is responsible for examining an international protection application. It is based on the principle that the first Member State to facilitate entry into the EU should be responsible for examining the protection application. The objective of the Dublin Regulation is to ensure quick access to asylum procedures and the examination of an application on the merits by a single, clearly determined Member State.

Traditionally, a number of the transfer decisions made in this country have been to the UK, which was still bound by the EU Regulation until the end of 2020, under the transitional arrangements of the Withdrawal Agreement. Dublin Regulation transfers to the UK cannot now take place following the end of the transitional arrangements.

The person concerned was the subject of a transfer decision to the UK under the Dublin III Regulation. My Department provided an undertaking in this case in December 2020, which effectively meant that the person concerned would not be transferred to the UK before the end of that year.

Property Services Regulatory Authority

 724. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will consider extending the issues on which the Property Services Regulatory Authority can adjudicate from issues of professional negligence or misconduct to embrace also an ombudsman’s adjudication, as applies for the financial services sector, since the consumer is similarly exposed. [1360/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The provision of property services to consumers in Ireland is subject to a detailed legislative framework of licensing, regulation, monitoring and enforcement, under the Property Services Regulation Act 2011 (afterwards ‘the Act’). The Act also established the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), a statutory regulatory body specifically tasked with responsibility for licensing and regulating property services providers (auctioneers, estate agents, letting agents and property management agents).

Under the Property (Services) Regulation Act 2011, any business or individual who provides a property service (other than those who are subject to a similar licence or authentication scheme in another EU Member State) must hold a valid licence from the PSRA. The licensing of property services providers ensures that licensees comply with certain standards aimed at ensuring protection for their clients. For example, licensees must possess specified minimum qualifications, have available to them professional indemnity insurance and pay an annual contribution to the Compensation Fund.

The PSRA is empowered to investigate complaints of improper conduct made against licensed property services providers, and to launch investigations on its own initiative for the purpose of ensuring compliance by property services providers with their statutory obligations. Where a finding of improper conduct is made by the PSRA, it can impose a range of sanctions: namely, issue a reprimand, warning, caution or advice, suspend or revoke a licence, or direct the licensee to pay a financial penalty (i.e. pay up to €50,000 into the Property Services Compensation Fund, up to €50,000 to the PSRA towards the cost of the investigation, up to €250,000 to the PSRA by way of financial penalty or any combination of the foregoing).

The Act provides for the establishment of the Property Services Compensation Fund which is funded by annual contributions from licensees, and maintained and administered by the PSRA. A person who has suffered financial loss as a result of dishonesty on the part of a licensee, or any principal officer, employee or agent or former principal officer, employee or agent of a licensee arising from the provision of property services on behalf of the licensee, is entitled to apply to the PSRA for a grant from the Fund to compensate him/her for the loss sustained as a result of the dishonesty.

Businesses that are licensed to provide property services (property services employers and independent contractors) are also required under the Act to have in place professional indemnity insurance. This insurance must cover both the business, and all principal officers and employees engaged in the provision of property services on the business’s behalf. The minimum requirements in respect of professional indemnity insurance are set out in the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 (Professional Indemnity Insurance) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 182 of 2012).

While my Department keeps the operation of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 under review, there are no plans at present to amend the Act in the way suggested by the Deputy.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 725. 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 attention has been drawn to concerns being expressed regarding the Covid-19 treatment and care of prisoners within the prison population, including escalating patients to hospitals if and when it is necessary. [1437/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will be aware that the Irish Prison Service has put in place an extensive range of measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission within prisons, detect early any possible infection in a prisoner or staff member and prevent the spread of infection should there be a confirmed case.

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that as of 11 January, 2021 there have been 43 positive cases of Covid-19 identified amongst the prisoner population since March 2020, with the first case in September 2020. Of the 43 confirmed prisoner cases 23 were community acquired infections and 20 were prison based.

To date, none of the cases have required hospital treatment and the Irish Prison Service inform me that there are procedures in place for this eventuality should it become necessary.

The measures which have been introduced are guided by the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team and consistent with the prison specific guidance for the management of Covid-19 issued by the World Health Organisation and guidance of the Council of Europe.

The Deputy may wish to note that there is a Primary Healthcare service available at each prison consisting of doctors and nurses who are responsible for the management of healthcare issues including the treatment of Covid-19. To date, all positive Covid-19 cases in the prisoner population have been managed in the relevant prison and there has been no requirement to transfer any prisoner to hospital. If however the prison healthcare service consider that a prisoner requires hospital treatment they would refer the prisoner to the relevant hospital, alerting in advance that they are sending a Covid-19 patient. The prisoner in question would be transferred to the hospital via an ambulance.

I wish to assure the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service continues to manage the risks and challenges faced in a prison context during the Covid-19 pandemic in line with public health guidelines. In doing so, it maintains a close working relationship with my Department, relevant criminal justice authorities, the National Public Health Emergency Team and the HSE.

Garda Training

 726. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if additional funding will be made available to Garda recruits who have had their training period extended until 31 January 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1479/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently two classes of Garda Trainees allocated to training stations; class 202 and 203. I am further informed that class 202 is expected to attest on 19 January 2021.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that for the duration of their training, all trainees are paid an allowance of €184 per week. In addition to this €184 per week, while on duty at training stations, trainees are also entitled to claim appropriate rates of subsistence for each tour of duty they work.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is sufficient funds in the Garda budget to ensure that this expenditure can be met in relation to these Garda Trainees.

  Question No. 727 answered with Question No. 689.

Departmental Reports

 728. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if the Drogheda scoping report has been completed; the timeframe for when it will be available; if she has made preliminary decisions based on the recommendations as set out; and if she will outline any other relevant details in the matter. [1648/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I wish to inform the Deputy that the report of the Drogheda scoping exercise carried out by Mr Vivian Geiran is expected to be delivered shortly.

Despite the challenges related to the CoVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions, Mr Geiran has been able to engage and meet with over 70 individuals, representing over 30 bodies in the area. My Department will arrange for publication of Mr Geiran’s scoping report in the coming weeks following receipt of the finalised report.

Officials within my Department will carefully consider the actions and recommendations in Mr Geiran’s report and engage with relevant services and stakeholders in Drogheda in order to take them forward.

Bench Warrants

 729. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of bench warrants outstanding in the Limerick Garda division as of 31 December 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1668/21]

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 administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no role in these matters.

As the Deputy will appreciate, difficulties in relation to the execution of warrants, including bench warrants, are a long-standing issue for many police services around the world; notably relating to persons actively seeking to evade detection and where limited identification information might be available to support enforcement. I am assured however that An Garda Síochána execute warrants as expeditiously as possible, giving priority to the execution of warrants relating to serious crimes.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were 992 bench warrants outstanding in Limerick Division as of 31 December 2020.

Garda Deployment

 730. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of Garda public service vehicle inspectors attached to Limerick Garda division as of 31 December 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1669/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is currently one PSV Inspector attached to the Limerick Garda Division.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. The allocation of Garda resources is made in light of identified operational demand. This includes deployment of personnel among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.

I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure their optimum use. I understand that it is a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her, having regard to the profile of each area within the Division and its specific needs.

Immigration Status

 731. 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 for residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1720/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee If an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State, for confidentiality reasons it is not the practice to comment on such applications and the applicant or their legal representative should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

The IPO may be contacted either by email to info@ipo.gov.ie, by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. The IPAT may be contacted either by email to info@protectionappeals.ie, by telephone at 01-4748400 (or Lo-Call 1890 201 458), or in writing to Corporate Services Division, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal, 6-7 Hanover Street East, Dublin D02 W320.

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.

Garda Operations

 732. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the funding provided under the Garda youth diversion scheme in each the years 2018 to 2020. inclusive, for organisations in County Louth and east County Meath; if there are plans within her Department to expand the scheme in the area in view of the significant criminality that has occurred in Drogheda and its hinterlands over the past 24 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1752/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne I can inform the Deputy that I am very conscious of how the impact of crime affects the quality of life for local communities. Preventing children getting involved in criminality and diverting children away from it when they have already become involved is a key priority for me as Minister for Justice and the new Programme for Government, Our Shared Future, contains a number of commitments with regard to tackling crime.

  Details of the funding allocations sought for the Garda Youth Diversion Projects in Co. Louth and East Meath over the last 24 months are set out in the table below.

[https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-01-13_pq732-13-01-21_en.docx]

  Proposals to strengthen the work of Garda Youth Diversion Projects in the area are being examined at present and it is anticipated that decisions will be made shortly in the context of the overall funding available for 2021.

  I am further informed that currently there are 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects nationwide. The intention is to further develop this service so that it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it, through an ongoing expansion of existing services and the foundation of new projects where necessary.

  The projects are being developed to provide family support to the parents of young people participating in the projects, and are undertaking early intervention and preventative work. The role of the projects in relation to harder-to-engage young people is being enhanced and extended as part of the evolving Youth Justice system.

  The Department is supporting the ongoing development of practice in Garda Youth Diversion Projects through the Action Research Project led by the University of Limerick. The Action Research Project works directly with front-line Youth Justice Workers from local projects to develop interventions and best practice. Based on initial outcomes from the Action Research Project, and evaluations of a number of pilot projects, it is intended to develop proposals to expand the existing services. This would ensure national coverage and a stronger focus on difficult issues such as the hard-to-reach cohort.

  These issues are addressed in the draft Youth Justice Strategy 2020-2026, which I intend to finalise and bring to Government shortly.

Garda Stations

 733. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if there are plans to increase opening times and personnel in Garda stations located in Ardee, Collon and Dunleer, County Louth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1763/21]

Minister for Justice and Equality (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 personnel matters, deployment of resources and opening times of Garda stations. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

  I am advised by the Garda authorities that the table bellow sets out the opening times for Garda Stations located in Ardee, Collon and Dunleer, Co. Louth:

Garda Station Opening Time
Ardee Garda station Daily 9am - 5pm & Evenings 9pm-10pm
Collon Monday to Saturday 10am - 1pm. Sunday 12pm -1pm
Dunleer Between 8am - 6pm for 4 hours on working says. (Depending on roster arrangements)


  The opening hours of all Garda stations are kept under ongoing review by Garda management and I have no role in this matter. I am informed that overall policing arrangements and operational strategies are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda Resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

  As the Deputy is aware the allocation and transfer of Garda Personnel is determined by a number of factors, including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, operational strategies and transfers applications, including welfare issues. When allocations are taking place, comprehensive consultation is carried out with Local Management during which all factors are taken into consideration. Where a deficiency in resources is identified, the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that at 31 December 2021, there were 393 Gardaí assigned to Louth Division. This is an increase of almost 37% since 2015, when there were 287 Gardaí assigned to the Division.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Gardaí stationed in County Louth at 31 December 2021 is as follows:

[https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-01-13_pq733-13-01-21_en.docx]

  The Deputy may also wish to be aware that 157 probationer Gardaí have been assigned to Louth Division since the opening of the Garda college in 2014. 75 probationer Gardaí were assigned to Drogheda District, 68 were assigned to Dundalk District and 14 were assigned to Ardee District.

  A detailed breakdown of Garda numbers by Division, District and Station is available on my Department’s website, in the interests of transparency and for the convenience of Deputies and the wider public. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. The Information on Garda members may be accessed at the following link: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

Consultancy Contracts

 734. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the details in respect of her Department for outsourcing to consultancies of specifically Covid-19-related work, services or advice; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1796/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I wish to advise the Deputy that one consultancy firm was used for COVID-19 related work, services or advice.

The Department availed of ARUP Advisory Services to assist with its COVID-19 Management Response. ARUP provided advice on the physical density capacity of the Department’s public offices in preparation for a safe return of essential staff required for business continuity purposes. This was in response to the Return to Work Safely Protocol, published by Government in early May, which placed a number of obligations on both employers and staff aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Advisory and support services were sought for the Department’s facilities at Mount Street, Burgh Quay, Hanover Street and 51 St. Stephen's Green.

Garda Equipment

 735. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if a schedule of the entire number of firearms at the disposal of An Garda Síochána will be provided by the number of same by weapon type, manufacturer and or brand. [1808/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible by law for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. I, as Minister, have no direct role in these matter.

  I have requested information from the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter but it was unfortunately not possible to compile it in the time available.

  I will write to the Deputy directly with the information requested, when it is available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51.

SUBSTANTIVE ANSWER:

  I refer to Parliamentary Question Number 735 which was for answer on 13 January 2021 where you asked “If a schedule of the entire number of firearms at the disposal of An Garda Síochána will be provided by the number of same by weapon type, manufacturer and or brand”

  You will recall that the information could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to consult with An Garda Síochána and to contact you again.

  On foot of these consultations, I can inform you that it is established An Garda Síochána policy not to comment on matters that impinge on national security, and for this reason the information you have requested cannot be provided.

Garda Training

 736. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the level of firearms training provided to armed Garda personnel in each of the years 2018 to 2020, inclusive, and to date in 2021; the number of gardaí by grade or rank with firearms training; the type of weapon they are trained to carry and or use; the company engaged to provide training; the cost of training on an annual basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1809/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including the training of its members and civilian staff. I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that firearms training is provided by Firearms Instructors attached to the Garda College and Special Tactics and Operations Command (S.T.O.C.) under the governance of the Director of Training, Garda College.

  Members attached to regular units and Detective units are trained in handling handguns only, namely the Smith and Wesson revolver, the Sig Sauer P226 pistol and the Walther semi-automatic pistol.

  Specialist Units such as the Emergency Response Unit and the Armed Support Unit are trained in handling the Sig Sauer pistol, H&K MP7 Sub-machine gun, Taser and 40mm direct impact munitions (Less Lethal options).

  For the Deputy's information listed below are figures for attendance at firearms training in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020, and the number of members trained each year by rank.

  Overall number of firearms training places taken up by members each year

2018 2019 2020
11,296 8,435 13,520


  Number of members trained each year by rank*
Year Garda Sergeant Inspector Superintendent Chief Supt
2018 9755 1439 82 14 6
2019 7247 1097 65 22 4
2020 11483 1876 130 25 6


  *These figures refers to the number of members that attended firearms training. Some members have attended multiple firearms training courses.

  Please note it is not possible to provide an overall cost of firearms training on an annual basis given that subsistence and travel expenses are borne by the Division of the member being trained, and to compile this information would involve a disproportionate expenditure of Garda resources.


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