Written Answers Nos. 448-464
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 448-464
449. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will confirm the number of prisoners who have sought or been provided with medical attention at Wheatfield Prison, Cloverhill Road, Dublin following assaults or suspected assaults in each of January, February and March 2013 together with the current total number of prisoners at the facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15185/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I wish to advise the Deputy that for the year to date 19 prisoners have sought or have been provided with medical attention following assaults or alleged assaults. The Irish Prison Service has in place a Standard Operating Procedure for dealing with prisoners who allege injury by assault. Any prisoner who reports an assault or alleged assault is seen by a member of the Healthcare team as soon as possible after the incident and receives appropriate medical treatment.
Garda Divisional Headquarters
451. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of the new Garda divisional headquarters announced under the national stimulus plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15192/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The provision of three new Garda Divisional Headquarters for the Kevin Street, Galway and Wexford Divisions was included in the special Government stimulus package announced in July 2012. It is intended that these projects will be delivered by means of a Public Private Partnership and discussions are taking place between the relevant agencies regarding the action to be undertaken in the light of the Government announcement.
As the arrangements to be put in place for Public Private Partnerships are complex, it is not possible at this stage to indicate when the projects will be completed. However, I can assure the Deputy that they are being treated as a priority.
Equality Tribunal Cases
454. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of and settlements made in cases taken to the Equality Tribunal by citizens under the Equal Status Acts in the context of their exclusion from access to the mobility allowance and motorised transport grant schemes; when said settlements were reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15205/13]
The Equality Tribunal informs me that it does not compile statistical data on the details of individual complaints unless the case goes to hearing and a decision is issued. The Tribunal therefore does not have the information to hand on the number of cases lodged, withdrawn or settled in relation to access to mobility allowance and motorised transport grant schemes. The Tribunal informs me that five decisions have been issued in cases concerning these schemes.The decisions in relation to mobility allowance are:
A Complainant v HSE (South) [DEC-S-2009-011]; and Quigley v HSE [DEC-S-2009-012]. The decisions in relation to the Disabled Drivers (Tax Concessions) Regulations are James McClean v Revenue Commissioners [DEC-S-2004-016]; Dowd v Dr Paula Gilvarry and the HSE (West) [DEC-S-2011-060]; and Dowd v Minister of Finance [DEC-S-2011-061]. These decisions are published and can be accessed on The Equality Tribunal website www.equalitytribunal.ie
455. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality with reference to the report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice published June 2009, the progress that has been made in implementing its recommendations; his plans regarding future implementation of the findings of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15284/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Report from the National Commission on Restorative Justice highlighted the benefits of a restorative justice approach to criminal behaviour and found that its implementation on a nationwide basis would make a positive contribution to the lives of all citizens, victims, offenders and their families.
Extending the range of restorative justice schemes is a strategic priority for the Probation Service. In 2012, the Restorative Justice Service based in Tallaght was extended to the Criminal Courts of Justice and to the Courts in South County Dublin while the Nenagh Community Reparation Project was extended to the Courts in North Tipperary. A restorative justice project focussing on young offenders has also been developed in partnership with the voluntary and community sector in Limerick.
The Probation Service is now in the process of finalising an integrated Restorative Justice Strategy. This strategy will set out a series of actions which the Service will drive forward, in collaboration with its partners, to bring about greater availability and integration of restorative practices at various stages of the criminal justice process.
For my part, my focus is to develop, to the greatest extent possible, the range of non-custodial options available to the courts. I believe restorative justice has a place in that range of options and it is my intention to build on the progress being made.
Departmental Agencies Issues
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Examiners of Titles and Chief Examiners of Titles are both legally qualified senior professional grades, whose main function is to examine titles presented for first registration and to undertake legally complex casework involving examining unregistered rights and interests. The Chief Examiner of Titles is the reporting grade for Examiner of Titles. In addition to this line management role, Chief Examiners are authorised, under Section 22(7) of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, to make rulings and orders on behalf of the Chief Executive of the Property Registration Authority. Rulings and orders are decisions, relating to applications made to the Authority for registration or other services, set down in a legally formal manner, which in appropriate circumstances may be appealed to the Court.
Examiner of Titles
Property Registration Authority Applications
457. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average waiting time for the Property Registration Authority to register a straight forward right of way over lands from the date of a valid application. [15321/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): A "straightforward right of way" case could be defined as one based on a separate Deed of Grant by a registered owner and would not include a right of way case reserved or granted in a Deed of Transfer or claimed by prescription. I am advised by the Property Registration Authority that the length of time taken to complete registration of rights of way not requiring query can vary depending on a number of factors. These include the complexity of the case, mapping requirements, the level of resources available at any particular time and the volume of business being transacted. Some right of way cases have to be associated with other pending cases which also require mapping. Of the right of way cases lodged from January to March 2012, 12% were completed within 1 month, 32% were completed within 6 months and 80% were completed within 15 months.
Public Sector Remuneration
458. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide in tabular form a breakdown of the annual saving to the public sector pay bill in non-commercial State agency pay were capped at €100,000. [15968/13]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I assume the Deputy is seeking details in respect of those agencies which are not staffed by staff of my Department. The details requested by the Deputy in respect of those agencies under the aegis of my Department are set out in the following table:
Middle East Peace Process
459. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide further details on his recent visit to Israel, Lebanon and Palestine; if he discussed the peace process with the various Governments; if the issue of the continued building of Israeli settlements was discussed with the Israeli Government; and if he discussed or negotiated new arms deals with the Israeli Government. [15160/13]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): During the period 9 to 15 March 2013, I visited Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. My visit to Lebanon afforded me an opportunity to see, at first hand, the dedication and professionalism of military personnel and the tremendous work done overseas by the Irish Defence Forces personnel serving as part of a joint Irish/Finnish battalion with the United Nations Interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon. I conveyed to the troops our deep appreciation for the outstanding manner in which they continue to perform their duties on overseas service. The visit to the troops was part of a comprehensive St Patrick’s Day programme in the Middle East. During my visit to the Irish/Finnish battalion’s area of operations, I received briefings on the current situation in the region and met with the UNIFIL Force Commander, General Paolo Serra of Italy. I also laid a wreath at the Memorial in Tibnin to the forty-seven members of the Defence Forces who died in Lebanon in the cause of peace. I also met with the Lebanese Minister for Defence, Mr. Fayez Ghosn and we discussed the current security and political situation and the challenges being faced by Lebanon and how their efforts can be supported by Ireland and the international community. I also discussed with him the current conflict in Syria and the refugee crisis, and in particular the number of Syrian refugees in the Lebanon and the supports required by Lebanon from the EU.
In Israel, I visited the Golan Heights and I met with Irish Defence Forces personnel who are serving with the UN Truce Supervision Organisation as unarmed Military Observers in support of UNDOF, the UN monitoring force on the Golan Heights, and the Head of Mission and Force Commander of UNDOF, Major General Iqbal Singh Singha of India. I was briefed on security issues in that area, especially the growing risks flowing from instability in Syria and the impact of the refugee crisis in the region. While in Israel, I also engaged in trade promotion activities, attended a business breakfast organised by the IDA and the Embassy, and attended the Israel launch of the Ireland-Israel Business Network. I attended the 45th anniversary celebration of the Ireland Israel Friendship League where I met with many of the Irish diaspora in Israel and also the Saint Patrick’s Day events held in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv. In the course of my visit I also attended an Ireland/Israel seminar on road safety where the experiences of the relevant authorities in both States were shared and options for continued engagement in improving road safety were explored. I also received a briefing on ongoing developments in the use of unmanned aerial systems for security surveillance purposes. The Defence Forces already use such systems in peacekeeping operations.
In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I received briefings and had a number of discussions on the overall political situation, with a number of politicians including both the outgoing and incoming Ministers for Justice in Israel, Yaakov Neeman and Tzipi Livni respectively. While visiting Ramallah in the West Bank, I met with Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official and negotiator, with the Minister for Justice of the Palestinian Authority, Mr Ali Muhanna and with NGOs and UN agencies operating on the ground. I was also briefed by Mr Kenneth Deane Head of mission of EUPOL COPPS, the EU’s police training mission with the Palestinian police, which Ireland has strongly supported.
In the course of my visit, I was very much in listening mode, while also indicating that Ireland would do whatever it could to help and support the peace process. My discussions were intended, both as a member of the Government and with a long standing interest in the region, to hear about the difficulties facing the parties and the peace process, and the prospects for renewed movement towards a comprehensive peace. I of course reiterated at all points the Irish Government’s strong and consistent support for a two State solution resulting in a sovereign State of Palestine existing peacefully alongside a secure Israel and Ireland’s support for the recommencement of discussions in respect of the peace process.
460. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Defence the reason an army pension has been reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15342/13]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Under the pre-April 2004 Defence Forces Pension Schemes, the minimum service required for an immediate pension and lump sum in the case of NCOs and Privates is 21 years, regardless of age. Maximum benefits accrue after 31 years. The 21-year pension consists of the following elements: (a) a basic flat-rate pension that varies according to rank (Sergeant in the case of the person referred to); plus (b) an addition in respect of military service allowance (MSA) equal to 40% of the MSA rate where discharged since August 1990; and ( c) if applicable, fixed % additions in respect of certain other qualifying payments (e.g. 3% extra for Technician Pay in this case).
461. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the reason Ireland is spending €632,000 of taxpayers’ money on an E.U. military training mission in Mali; if this is a breach of our neutrality status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15352/13]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): United Nations Security Council Resolution 2071 (2012) calls on the EU to provide assistance, expertise, training and capacity-building support to the Armed and Security Forces of Mali in order to restore the authority of the State of Mali over its entire national territory. In this context, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union established a military mission, EUTM Mali, which will provide military training and advice to the Malian Armed Forces. On 26 February 2013 the Government decided to deploy approximately eight members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), as part of a joint infantry training team with the United Kingdom Armed Forces, to provide military training and advice to the Malian Armed Forces. The objective of the mission will be to improve the capacity of the Malian Armed Forces to maintain security in Mali and restore the authority of the Malian Government and the territorial integrity of the Malian State. Alongside standard infantry training, training will also be provided in international humanitarian law, the protection of civilians and human rights.
All EU Member States, irrespective of participation, are obliged to contribute to the common costs of the mission, unless they specifically opt out of doing so at Council. All troop contributors to the new mission will be responsible for their own costs. The estimated cost to the Defence Vote of deploying and sustaining eight personnel with EUTM Mali will amount to approximately €632,000 for the duration of the mission’s mandate of 15 months. This figure includes Ireland’s contribution of €120,000 to the common costs of the mission.
The EU Training Mission is being deployed under UN Security Council Resolution 2071, in a country which is deeply divided along ethnic lines, to assist in building an army which is able and ready and to defend all the people of Mali, regardless of origin and identity. The training mission in an integral part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to Mali and the Sahel region of Africa which includes humanitarian support, development assistance and supports to the UN backed African force, AFISMA, in Mali.
Public Sector Remuneration
462. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide in tabular form a breakdown of the annual saving to the public sector pay bill in non-commercial State agency pay were capped at €100,000. [15965/13]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): There are no commercial semi State agencies under the aegis of my Department. The only body under the aegis of my Department is the Army Pensions Board. None of the staff employed are on salary scales which exceed €100,000, and therefore the question of a maximum salary cap of €100,000 does not arise.
Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
463. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding Common Agricultural Policy negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15064/13]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Considerable progress has been made over the last number of weeks in the negotiations on the reform of the CAP. As a first step, the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee adopted an initial position on the CAP reform package at the end of January. Further momentum was generated in early February when the clarity that had been awaited from the negotiations on the EU budget was delivered by the agreement on the Multi-annual Financial Framework at the European Council. Two weeks ago, the European Parliament finalised its position on the CAP reform package. And last week the Council of Agriculture Ministers successfully adopted - by a strong qualified majority - its General Approach on CAP Reform. The latter in particular marked a considerable achievement, taking place as it did against a background of lengthy, intensive negotiations with my Member State colleagues across a range of complex and sensitive issues.
The achievement of the Council General Approach is a vitally important development. It means that all three institutions are now ready to move on to the final, so-called ‘trilogue’, stage of the negotiation process, where the Irish Presidency will represent the Council in discussions with the European Parliament and with the Commission. It also means that the overall target of an inter-institutional political agreement by the end of June remains very much on schedule.
I am very hopeful that all participants across all three institutions will maintain their focus and redouble their efforts so that, together, we can bring the reform negotiations to a conclusion by the end of June.
Common Agricultural Policy Reform
464. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, with regard to the Commom Agricultural Policy, he will continue with the current payments regime or if he will alter it to reflect the flattening of payments as proposed by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15363/13]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I intend neither to continue with the current direct payments regime nor to move to the type of national or regional flat-rate system proposed by the Commission, but rather to implement a limited redistribution of payments that will result in a fairer, more balanced system.
I think we in Ireland can all agree that we should move away from payments based entirely on out-of-date historic entitlements, which severely disadvantage some farmers. However, I believe we should do so in a way that does not result in unacceptably large transfers from our most productive farmers. The Commission’s proposal would have the latter effect. The Deputy is no doubt aware of the analysis carried out by my Department based on our 2010 payments database, which shows that, under the Commission’s proposal, €280 million would be transferred between Irish farmers, with 70,000 gaining by an average of 75% and 54,000 losing by an average of 32%. I believe this is unsustainable, and would jeopardise the development of the agri-food sector as foreseen under the Food Harvest 2020 strategy.
This is why I have consistently argued for an alternative, more measured, approach that acknowledges the need to move from historic references while not going as far or as fast as envisaged by the Commission. Last year I proposed a partial convergence model which would result in the transfer of €74 million between Irish farmers, with 60,000 gaining by an average of 25% and 53,000 losing by an average of 8%. This is the minimum transfer generated by the partial convergence model – Member States would have the flexibility to go further if they wished. I worked very hard to persuade my Member State colleagues that this alternative model should be incorporated into the Commission’s proposals on direct payments, and was successful in building a strong alliance to this effect.
Although this is a highly sensitive issue for all Member States, I am very pleased that last week’s Council of Agriculture Ministers endorsed this approach and agreed to include the Irish model in the options available for the distribution of direct payments. This enhances the prospect of a more reasonable level of transfers of payments between farmers than would be the case under the Commission’s flat-rate proposal.
Of course, this issue still has to be negotiated further, and the reality is that the final outcome will be somewhere between the Commission proposal and the Irish proposal. However, the important point is that the Irish model is at the centre of the negotiations, and I will be working to ensure that the final outcome is as close as possible to this model.
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