Header Item Written Answers Nos. 448-464
 Header Item Prisoner Numbers
 Header Item Garda Divisional Headquarters
 Header Item Equality Tribunal Cases
 Header Item Restorative Justice
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item Property Registration Authority Applications
 Header Item Public Sector Remuneration
 Header Item Middle East Peace Process
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Overseas Missions
 Header Item Public Sector Remuneration
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

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Written Answers Nos. 448-464

  Question No. 448 answered with Question No. 409.

Prisoner Numbers

 449. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

A total of 709 prisoners were in custody in Wheatfield Prison on 25 March 2013.

  Question No. 450 answered with Question No. 427.

Garda Divisional Headquarters

 451. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

  Questions Nos. 452 and 453 answered with Question No. 420.

Equality Tribunal Cases

 454. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Equality Tribunal is a statutory independent office and I have no function in relation to individual cases.

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

Restorative Justice

 455. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

The Probation Service, in partnership with community based organisations and its statutory partners, currently delivers a number of restorative justice programmes and interventions.

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

 456. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of examiners employed at the Property Registration Authority for each of the past five years. [15320/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

  The number of Chief Examiners of Titles and Examiners of Titles employed by the Property Registration Authority in the past five years and to date in 2013 are set out in the following table:

  Chief Examiner of Titles


Year Number
2008 7
2009 5
2010 4
2011 4
2012 3
2013 (end Feb) 3


  Examiner of Titles
Year Number
2008 5
2009 5
2010 5
2011 5
2012 5
2013 (end Feb) 5

Property Registration Authority Applications

 457. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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 Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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:

Name of Agency Gross* annual savings if pay capped at €100,000
National Disability Authority  €446
Irish Human Rights Commission   Nil
Courts Service €1,436,626
Legal Aid Board €49,890
Property Registration Authority €69,428
Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission €199,226
* Net savings to the Exchequer would be significantly lower.

Middle East Peace Process

 459. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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.

Throughout my visit to the Middle East, I also promoted economic cooperation, high-tech research and innovation, bilateral trade links and tourism.

No discussions were conducted with the Israeli Government relating to the purchase of defensive equipment by the Department of Defence.

Pension Provisions

 460. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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).

  All of the above elements are payable for the person’s lifetime. However, an ‘additional increment’ is also payable at a flat rate for each year of service in excess of 21 years up to a maximum of 31 years. This increment is increased, where appropriate, by the top-up at (c). Where maximum pensionable service is 31 or more years, as applied in this instance, the MSA top-up is 50% of the rate of MSA (rather than 40%). However, the additional increment ceases to be payable when the pensioner reaches the qualifying age of 66 under the Social Welfare code for a State Pension Contributory, or if they become entitled to a Retirement Pension Contributory at the earlier age of 65. At the same time, the 50% MSA top-up reverts to the 40% rate. When the person referred to retired from the Defence Forces on 7 October 2002 (at the prescribed age of 60), he had accrued the maximum pensionable service of 31 years. On that basis, his military pension included the additional increment for 31 years’ service and the corresponding MSA top-up. He reached the age of 66 years on 7 October 2008, the qualifying age for the State Pension Contributory. In accordance with the arrangements mentioned, these additional elements of his Defence Forces pension ceased to be payable from that date.

I am advised that these arrangements are in accordance with the long established principle of integrating occupational pensions with Social Insurance benefits of employees who are in full PRSI class. This includes NCOs and Privates, who are fully insured for the range of benefits under the Social Welfare Acts such as the State Pension. ‘Integration’ means that a person’s entitlement to Social Insurance benefits such as the State Pension is taken into account when calculating the rate of occupational pension payable. The State Pension etc. is regarded as part of the overall pension package payable to the individual. The integration principle applies right across the public service and, indeed, in many areas of the private sector as well as in other countries.

However, the method of integration for military pensioners such as the person referred to is considerably less severe than in other areas of the public service. The maximum personal rate of State Pension is currently €230.30 a week (if under age 80). This is considerably greater than any reduction that could arise under the pre-April 2004 Defence Forces’ pension arrangements on qualification for the State Pension.

  The general issue of integration of occupational pensions in the public service was examined by the Commission on Public Service Pensions.   Its final report, published in November 2000, was considered and broadly accepted by Government. The Commission accepted that integration is a fundamental component in the public service pension framework and was strongly of the view that it should be continued. It did not make any recommendations that would affect the current integration arrangements applicable to retired NCOs and Privates covered by the pre-April 2004 pensions schemes.

Overseas Missions

 461. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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 Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter 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): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on 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 Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney 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): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on 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 Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney 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): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on 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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