Header Item Written Answers Nos. 200-213
 Header Item Waste Disposal
 Header Item Cross-Border Co-operation
 Header Item Referendum Campaigns
 Header Item Unfinished Housing Developments
 Header Item Anti-Social Behaviour
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Prisoner Numbers
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Prison Service Strategies
 Header Item Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes
 Header Item Prisoner Numbers

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Unrevised

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Written Answers Nos. 200-213

Waste Disposal

 200. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the position regarding increases in landfill charges; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that waste collectors are passing this charge on to households; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33743/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Programme for Government commits to the development of a coherent national waste policy, adhering to the waste hierarchy, which will aim to minimise waste disposal in landfill and maximise recovery. In addition, Ireland must comply with strict limits under the Landfill Directive for the volumes of material which are landfilled. I published A Resource Opportunity - Waste Management Policy in Ireland in July 2012 which clearly signalled my intent ion to raise the landfill levy in July 2013 in order to provide certainty, in the form of both policy and legislation, so that the necessary actions and investments are progressed to achieve the policy’s objectives.

  The National Waste Report for 2011 reported the quantity of biodegradable municipal waste disposed at landfill in 2011 as 771,551 tonnes. This is 161,551 tonnes in excess of the July 2013 EU Landfill Directive limit and 344,551 tonnes in excess of the 2016 limit. Therefore, effective economic instruments, such as the landfill levy, are key to encouraging more sustainable management of our waste.

  Charges applied by waste management companies are a matter between those companies and their customers, subject to compliance with all applicable environmental and other relevant legislation, particularly the conditions attached to each waste collection permit issued under the Waste Management (Collection Permit) Regulations 2007 as amended. The increase in the landfill levy is €10 per tonne of leviable waste disposed of to landfill and in that context, the National Waste Report for 2011, published by the Environmental Protection Agency records a figure of 0.163 tonnes of residual household waste per person being disposed of to landfill in that year.

Cross-Border Co-operation

 201. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the recent developments made on extending the ban on smoky coal across the country over the next three years; the discussions both he and his officials have had on this recently with the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland regarding extending the ban on all all-island basis; when he expects to receive the joint North-South study commissioned on 6 May this year; when he expects to bring forward legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33747/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan On 6 May 2013, I announced a joint North-South study on all-island air quality to examine air pollution from residential solid fuel, in particular ‘smoky’ coal, and to consider the potential policy options to reduce such emissions with consequential environmental and human health benefits.

The joint North-South study was agreed with Alex Attwood M.L.A, Environment Minister for Northern Ireland, at a North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) Environment Meeting following the Informal Council of EU Environment Ministers in Dublin on 22-23 April 2013, which Minister Attwood also attended. Among the issues discussed at the Informal Council was the future development of EU policy on air quality, which is currently under review and which is expected to be published by the European Commission later this year.

My Department has since met with the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland, to agree terms of reference for the study and prepare tender documentation. The request for tender will issue later in July and the successful bidder to undertake the study will be appointed as soon as possible. It is expected that the contract will be completed within six months.

Notwithstanding recent regulatory improvements and extension of the smoky coal ban, I recognise that having different standards applying to coal between larger urban and smaller urban/rural locations is not ideal, as it results in different levels of environmental protection and clean air benefits for people across these different locations. For this reason I have set the challenging target of introducing a ban on smoky coal across the State within the next three years. However, I fully recognise the cross-border enforcement difficulties arising, if a national ban is introduced unilaterally in the South rather than on an all-island basis. A closer alignment of solid fuel policy and legislation on an all-island basis will allow the benefits derived from the ban potentially to be further extended. In this regard, the policy options identified following the conclusion of the joint study will steer further legislative development in this area.

Referendum Campaigns

 202. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan when the Referendum Commission will be established for the referendum on the abolition of Seanad Éireann. [28688/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan On 6 June 2013 I signed the Referendum Commission (Establishment) Order 2013 which established a Referendum Commission for the referendum on the proposal in the Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013.

  Question No. 203 answered with Question No. 187.

Unfinished Housing Developments

 204. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if the scheme for taking in charge of private housing estates needs to be revised to take in the circumstances where the developer is deceased or is no longer in business, in effect leaving the local authority with no recourse for the snag list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33910/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Section 180 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 applies to estates which have been granted planning permission and includes the construction of two or more houses (which as defined in the Act includes apartments) and the provision of new roads, open spaces, car parks, sewers, watermains or drains. In relation to estates which have been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority in accordance with the permission, section 180 provides that the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the developer or by the majority of the qualified electors who are owners of the houses involved, initiate the procedures in section 11 of the Roads Act 1993 for declaring the road(s) to be public roads, for whose maintenance the local authority will then be responsible.

Section 11 of the Roads Act empowers a local authority, by order, to declare any road over which a public right of way exists to be a public road. Before making an order the local authority must be satisfied the road is of general public utility, consider the financial implications of taking the road in charge and consult with the public/consider any objections received. The consideration of the objections and the making of the order declaring the road to be a public road is a reserved function, so that the decision whether to take the road in charge is ultimately one for the discretion of the elected members.

In relation to estates which have not been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced within the relevant period section 180 also provides that the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the majority of the owners, initiate the procedures in section 11 of the Roads Act. However, in this case the section provides that the provision in section 11 of the Roads Act requiring the authority to consider the financial implications of taking the road in charge is to be disregarded.

Section 180 also provides that where a planning authority, in complying with section 180, makes an order under section 11 of the Roads Act, it must also take in charge any open spaces, car parks, sewers, watermains, or drains within the attendant grounds of the development. Section 180 was amended in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 to provide that a planning authority may take in charge an unfinished estate, at the request of the owners of the housing units, at any time after the expiration of the planning permission, in situations where enforcement actions have commenced or where the planning authority consider that enforcement action will not result in the satisfactory completion of the estate by the developer. Planning authorities have also been empowered to take in charge part of an estate or some, but not all, of the facilities in an estate.

Anti-Social Behaviour

 205. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to tackle the issue of boy racers and modified cars which are causing difficulties for residents in certain areas (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33635/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can assure the Deputy that I share the concern about incidents of anti-social driving behaviour and the impact it has on local communities. Effective roads policing is central to the Garda Policing Plan 2013 and road traffic enforcement is high throughout the country.

Garda enforcement activities are focused on the main causes of deaths and serious injuries on our roads and An Garda Síochána conducts specific operations to improve the compliance culture particularly among young male drivers. The Garda authorities work with the Road Safety Authority and other road safety stakeholders to promote road safety among target groups and conduct Garda Road Safety Awareness Programmes in schools and third level institutions.

I am advised that Garda authorities conduct ongoing strategic local enforcement operations targeting anti-social driving. These enforcement operations are intelligence-led, targeting areas in particular where young male drivers congregate. Regular Garda mobile patrols and checkpoints are also conducted in these areas and websites are monitored to assist in establishing where events are taking place and to implement the necessary operational Garda response. Such operations have resulted in a significant number of young drivers being prosecuted or for driving without a learner permit, driving unaccompanied while on a learner permit and driving a vehicle with prohibited modifications. Where breaches of road traffic legislation are detected, the Garda authorities make full use of the fixed charge notice, penalty point system, court prosecutions and Juvenile Diversion Programme where appropriate.

Garda Investigations

 206. 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 the dates on which the Garda bureau of fraud investigation seized tapes from AIB and Bank of Ireland and-or other banks; and if a court order or court warrant was needed to access these tapes.  [33671/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that I have no role in relation to the detailed management of any criminal investigations and that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the specifics of any criminal investigation or on the evidence obtained by the Gardaí in connection with any investigations which they may be conducting.

Prisoner Numbers

 207. 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 number of convicted persons imprisoned for six months, for five months, for four months, for three months, for two months and for one month in 2012; if he will further provide a breakdown of the categories of crime these persons were imprisoned for and a gender breakdown of same. [33680/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In 2012, 11,202 or 83% of all committals under sentence were for sentences of 6 months or less. This category also includes those committed (8,304) as a consequence of the non-payment of a court ordered fine.

  A full breakdown of the number of convicted persons imprisoned for six months, for five months, for four months, for three months, for two months and for one month in 2012 is set out in the following table. In cases where a person is serving multiple sentences, they are categorised on the basis of their most serious offence.

  Female

Group Name 1 month 1 to 2 months 2 to 3 months 3 to 4 months 4 to 5 months 5 to 6 months
Sexual Offences 0 0 2 0 0 0
Attempts/Threat to Murder, Assaults and Related Offences 15 2 7 3 7 6
Dangerous or Negligent Acts 113 6 4 1 1 1
Robbery, Extortion and Hijacking Offences 1 0 0 0 0 0
Burglary and Related Offences 0 0 1 2 2 1
Theft and Related Offences 99 22 24 20 10 29
Fraud, Deception and Related Offences 16 4 10 3 0 5
Controlled Drug Offences 34 1 3 1 1 0
Weapons and Explosives Offences 1 0 0 0 0 0
Damage to Property and the Environment 52 3 4 1 0 4
Public Order and Social Code Offences 152 19 16 3 0 3
Road and Traffic Offences 712 62 24 7 2 4
Offences re Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime 229 6 7 4 1 5
Offences Not Elsewhere Classified 181 3 2 2 0 2
Total 1,476 128 104 47 24 60


  Male
Group Name 1 month 1 to 2 months 2 to 3 months 3 to 4 months 4 to 5 months 5 to 6 months
Sexual Offences 2 0 2 4 1 5
Attempts/Threat to Murder, Assaults and Related Offences 59 27 44 53 22 48
Dangerous or Negligent Acts 634 66 66 57 47 44
Robbery, Extortion and Hijacking Offences 0 0 0 0 0 5
Burglary and Related Offences 19 8 27 27 21 46
Theft and Related Offences 226 61 82 77 58 130
Fraud, Deception and Related Offences 151 35 36 19 7 20
Controlled Drug Offences 342 33 48 25 14 48
Weapons and Explosives Offences 37 4 14 19 3 32
Damage to Property and the Environment 123 28 37 33 15 47
Public Order and Social Code Offences 1,145 252 140 32 16 31
Road and Traffic Offences 2,375 246 200 102 100 68
Offences re Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime 785 41 45 38 12 35
Offences Not Elsewhere Classified 343 36 26 12 4 13
Total 6,241 837 767 498 320 572

Proposed Legislation

 208. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit pawnbrokers from purchasing gold or jewellery off potential customers without proof of ownership; his further plans to introduce legislation that would reprimand pawnbrokers found in possession of stolen property, that is, gold or jewellery for which they do not know the identity of the seller or hold proof that the seller was the owner at the time of sale to the pawnbroker.  [33682/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter While I have no function in relation to the regulation of pawnbrokers regarding the specific matters raised by the Deputy, I will arrange to have these queries referred to the appropriate authority. In relation to the more general issue of cash for gold, I am at present examining the response of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence to the report concerning this matter which was published by my Department last year.

Garda Investigations

 209. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if there are charges pending against executives from Anglo Irish Bank; the nature and number of those charges. [33710/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that a number of Garda investigation files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions as have several files from the parallel investigation taking place under the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The Deputy will appreciate that I have no function in relation to the preferment of charges which is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions. However, I understand that three persons are currently charged with offences under section 60 of the Companies Act 1963 and that one of those persons is also charged with offences under section 197 of the Companies Act 1990. A number of files remain with the DPP awaiting her independent directions and there continues to be close contact between An Garda Síochána and the DPP in relation to all matters arising from these cases.

Road Traffic Offences

 210. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the different blood-alcohol levels and concentrations for drinking under the influence of alcohol in Ireland that are provided for in the Road Traffic Acts, that is policed by An Garda Síochána, as a measure to reduce fatalities and improve safety on our roads; the differences for public service vehicle drivers and normal drivers of vehicles; the measurements and limits that are in place when a person driving a private vehicle who is stopped at an authorised mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint and does not have a driving licence on their person; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33748/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will appreciate that road traffic legislation, including the relevant provisions for the prohibition of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant or of exceeding alcohol limits, is the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. All members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with the enforcement of relevant legislation, including the Road Traffic and Road Transport Acts. As part of this enforcement policy members of An Garda Síochána carry out planned and ‘ad hoc’ checkpoints as required, including mandatory alcohol testing (MAT) checkpoints. I am informed that this policy will continue with the overall objective of reducing the number of drink driving incidents and reducing the number of fatal and serious injuries on our roads.

Prison Service Strategies

 211. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide details regarding the development of a dignity at work charter in the Irish Prison Service; if a prison wide dignity and respect campaign has been launched; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33906/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy is aware the Irish Prison Service launched a new three year Strategy in April 2012. The Strategy is underpinned by a vision of providing ‘A safer community through excellence in a prison service built on respect for human dignity’. To underpin this strategy the Irish Prison Service intends to introduce a Dignity at Work Charter and a prison wide dignity and respect campaign with the aim of creating a positive and caring environment for staff and prisoners. Everyone in the Irish Prison service should be committed to treating everyone fairly, with courtesy, respecting personal dignity at all times. These principles will be at the heart of what the Irish Prison Service sets out to achieve in the coming years and into the future in all strategic actions.

I am informed by the Director General that a Working Group, comprising of representatives from Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Directorates, the Prison Officers’ Association, the Legal and Professional Standards Unit, the Employee Assistance Service and the Psychology Service, was established to deliver on this commitment. Work on phase 1 of the dignity at work programme finished in the past few weeks. This phase comprised of significant staff consultation which was undertaken through the holding of 19 focus groups at prison level. A number of subgroups have been established to identify the common issues raised and work in this regard will continue over the coming months. It is hoped that by addressing these issues we will be able to implement what is needed to make and create a working environment which is based on co-operation, openness, equality and respect.

Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes

 212. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of additional spaces in work, training, exercise, and education facilities that have been made available in Midlands Prison since the opening of the new block in 2012; the number of prisoners currently engaged in work, training and education programmes in Midlands Prison; the number of prisoners engaged in work training and education programmes in Midlands Prison prior to the opening of the new block; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33907/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services. On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.

The development of prisoner programmes forms a central part of the new Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015. There is a clear commitment in the Strategy to enhance sentence planning, including Integrated Sentence Management, and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes such as education, work training and resettlement programmes.

In relation to participation in education programmes, the aim of the Prison Service places a strong emphasis on improving prisoners' employability prospects through Work Training activities and accredited vocational training courses. Over 100 workshops and service activities operate across the prison estate and the number of accredited courses and activities has increased in recent years. There are now over 100 qualifications available across 20 skill sets. 1,459 prisoners participated in accredited vocational training courses in 2012 - up from 314 in 2007 - and 1,030 prisoners received certificates in the last year.

A wide range of training workshops and service activities are operating in the Midlands Prison. These include carpentry, metalwork, computers, laundry, waste management, horticulture, industrial cleaning and catering. Prisoners housed in the new accommodation block in the Midlands have access to the existing Work Training and Education activities alongside other constructive activities such as gyms, paint parties, cleaning, and reception work. In addition to a recently opened 'bag and Tag' Tuckshop facility, the new block will also include workshop activities in printing/computers, catering training and light industry/craftwork. Soft skills programmes will also be facilitated in the new block.

In November, 2012, prior to the opening of the new block, an average of 108 inmates were engaged in work training activities in Midlands Prison compared with an average of 123 inmates in May, 2013. It is envisaged that the additional activities will come on stream in the near future once vacancies in the Work Training Officer (WTO) grade are filled through a competition which will be held in the coming weeks.

The aim of the Education Service is to deliver a high quality, broad, flexible programme of education that helps prisoners cope with their sentence, achieve personal development, prepare for life after release and establish an appetite and capacity for life-long learning. The Department of Education and Skills provides an allocation of whole-time teacher equivalents to the prisons through the VECs (220 in the academic year 2012/13).

Ten general purpose rooms have been re-designated in the new block for education purposes, this equates to approximately 70 additional places. Prior to the opening of the new block 280 students attended classes per week. During the week ending 3 May 2013, 348 students attended classes. At present the formal academic year is complete and the summer programme is running with limited resources - 150 students attended classes during week ending 5 July 2013.

Prisoner Numbers

 213. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of prisoners currently housed in each wing of Mountjoy Prison, Dublin; the number of prisoners in each wing currently housed in single occupancy cells; the number of prisoners in each wing currently housed in cells with one other prisoner; the number of prisoners in each wing currently housed in cells with more than one other prisoner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33908/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that on Monday, 8th July, 2013, the number of prisoners currently housed in each wing of Mountjoy Prison was as follows:

Wing No.
B Division:-                119
C Division:-                  92
C - Base:-                     11
D Division                   211
Medical Unit                 53
Separation Unit           62
Wing Number in Single Occupancy Cells Number in Double Occupancy Cells Number housed with more than 1 other
B- Division 119 0 0
C- Division 92 0 0
C-Base 11 0 0
D - Division 33 130 48
Medical Unit 46 0 7
Separation Unit 7 42 13
Total 308 172 68


  Once the current refurbishment project has been completed in September 2013, all prisoners in Mountjoy prison will be accommodated in a single cell with a wash hand basin and toilet. As the Deputy can see from the table there are 308 prisoners in Mountjoy accommodated in single cell accommodation, or 56% of the prison's population.

  Given the current number of prisoners in custody - 4,203 on 8 July 2013 - the Irish Prison Service is not in a position to provide single cell accommodation to all prisoners. Single cell occupancy across the system would result in a bed capacity of less than 3,000 (only 308 in the case of Mountjoy) and would not be possible to achieve without releasing sizeable numbers of prisoners considered to represent a threat to public safety.

  In addition it should be borne in mind that in some cases prisoners are housed together for reasons other than lack of capacity. Family members, friends and co-accused prisoners often elect or are assigned a shared cell. Shared cell accommodation can be very beneficial from a management point of view particularly for those who are vulnerable and at risk of self-harm. There will always be a need for certain prisoners to be accommodated together.

  As outlined in the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan, it is intended to align prison capacity with the guidelines laid down by the Inspector of Prisons by 2014, in so far as this is compatible with public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system.


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