Written Answers Nos. 146-153
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 146-153
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, is a detailed document with a broad scope across a number of policy areas with administrative, policy and legislative implications. The provisions of the Convention and the legislative and administrative arrangements that would be necessary to allow signature and ratification of the Convention by Ireland are being examined in consultation with a number of government departments and agencies.
147. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will review the application fee for naturalisation and the subsequent fee for the issue of the certificate of naturalisation, which can add up to a cost of more than €1,000 per person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23724/14]
The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 set out the prescribed fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation. An application fee of €175 is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a fee is payable by applicants on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil. The certification fees were last changed in 2008.
The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. Every application must be assessed to establish if the statutory requirements are met. The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. I might also add that following the grant of citizenship it is no longer necessary for the person concerned to register their presence in the State with the Garda National Immigration Bureau which requires the payment of a fee of €300 per registration.
As the Deputy will be aware formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship. All of the fees payable under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 are kept under ongoing review by my Department.
148. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to the fact that due to staff shortages and cutbacks, District Court lodgments are being made just once a week; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this is affecting the lodgment of maintenance payments to recipients' bank accounts; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that this is having a detrimental affect on such maintenance payment recipients, who are waiting five days for the payment to clear; her plans to rectify the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23746/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has stated that if the deputy in his reference to “District Court lodgements”, is referring to the fact that cash collections in Court Offices are made just once a week, the position is that the frequency of cash collections in Court Offices has no impact on the timing of family law maintenance payments. I am informed that the only factors that impact the timing of the issuing of maintenance payments relate to the method of payment by the maintenance debtor and the method of payment to the maintenance creditor.
When a payment from a maintenance debtor is received in a court office or electronically via the banking system, it is available for immediate disbursement. A high percentage of payments are made by way of Bank Standing Order and go directly to the Courts Service Bank Account. Similarly there is no waiting period in relation to payments received as cash, bank draft or money order. Where payment from the maintenance debtor is made by way of cheque the position is that there is a holding period of ten working days before the payment can issue. The holding period commences when the cheque is received and entered in the Courts Accounting System.
Where the maintenance creditor has elected for payment by electronic funds transfer (EFT), the payment should be in the creditor's bank account within 2 working days of the payment being receipted by the Courts Service. In the case where the maintenance creditor has elected for payment by cheque, cheques are issued once a week every Tuesday. The Courts Service is actively encouraging maintenance creditors to elect for payment by EFT as this is the most efficient method of payment. At present 94% of family law payments are being made by EFT, with 6% being paid by cheque.
149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time the general public will have to wait for proper regulation of the charity sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23762/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the first meeting of the Charities Regulatory Authority Board took place on the 29th May 2014. The new Authority will operate as an independent regulator for the charity sector and will be formally established on 16 October 2014 under the terms of the Charities Act of 2009. An early priority for the new Authority will be the preparation and publication of a statutory register of charities. All registered charities will be required to provide reports to the Authority each year on their activities and these reports will be made available to the public. This will provide a much needed increase in transparency and accountability in the charitable sector, and will support the good practice in charity governance and management that is critical to a vibrant charity sector that commands the trust and confidence of donors and beneficiaries alike.
Peace Commissioners Appointments
151. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide a list of all persons appointed as peace commissioners from 1 April 2011 to date in 2014, in tabular form, including the name, date appointed, sub-district and county in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23825/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can confirm that three hundred Peace Commissioners were appointed from 1 April, 2011 to date in 2014. The information requested will be forwarded to the Deputy shortly.
Prison Visiting Committees Appointments
152. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide a list of all persons appointed to prison visiting committees from 1 April 2011 to date in 2014, in tabular form, including the name, date appointed and visiting committee in each case; a list of expenses incurred by each appointee over the course of his or her appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23826/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Visiting Committee members are appointed for a period of three years by the Minister for Justice and Equality under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act 1925 and Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order 1925. There are fourteen Visiting Committees in existence – one for each institution. The following table sets out the 65 appointments made to Prison Visiting Committees from 1 April 2011 to date.
Detailed figures for the remuneration of each committee member from 2011 to date are not readily available and would require a disproportionate amount of staff time and effort to prepare which would be difficult to justify in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources. However, I can inform the Deputy that a per diem payment at a current rate of €142.50 per visit or meeting, which is subject to tax, is paid to Visiting Committee members. Members are also entitled to claim vouched travel expenses of €30 per visit. The following table sets out the total expenditure paid to the Visiting Committees over each of the past three years.
Financial Services Regulation
153. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 10 and 41 of 27 May 2014, of the 689 reports which Central Bank of Ireland staff reported to An Garda Síochána between 2009 and 2013, as required under section 33AK of the Central Bank Act 1942, involving information that led them to suspect a criminal offence may have been committed by an entity supervised by the Central Bank of Ireland, the total number of these reports which led to prosecutions and successful prosecutions against persons in those regulated entities during that period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23828/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the report is to hand.
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