Header Item Written Answers Nos. 284-298
 Header Item Mobile Telephone Seizures
 Header Item Commencement of Legislation
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Criminal Prosecutions Data
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Cash for Gold Trade
 Header Item Garda Recruitment
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item Legislative Measures
 Header Item Legislative Measures
 Header Item EU Presidency Agenda
 Header Item Departmental Staff Redeployment
 Header Item Immigration Status
 Header Item Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 823 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 284-298

Mobile Telephone Seizures

 284. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of mobile phones that were confiscated from the prison population to date in 2013 and for each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51411/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Section 36 of the Prisons Act, 2007, which was brought into operation on 1 May, 2007, makes it an offence for prisoners to have unauthorised possession of or use of mobile telecommunication devices. Under the Act it is also an offence to supply such a device to a prisoner. The penalties for such an offence, on summary conviction, include a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, and on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. It is Irish Prison Service policy to report and hand over seizures of mobile phones to the Gardaí.

  Given advances in mobile telecommunications technology, mobile phones are becoming increasingly small in size, which provides the Irish Prison Service with particular challenges in seeking to (i) prevent their entry into prisons and (ii) locate them when smuggled inside. Specialist staff, however, are employed by the Irish Prison Service to combat this problem to the greatest extent possible. Due to improvements in security within our Prisons the number of mobile phones being seized in the previous years has reduced significantly.

  I wish also to advise the Deputy that between 1 January 2013 and 13 October 2013, 675 mobile phones had been seized by the staff of the Irish Prison Service.   

Year Mobile Phones Seized
2008 2,047
2009 2,174
2010 1,718
2011 1,368
2012 1,150
2013 675***


 ***Figures for 2013 are to 13 October 2013

Commencement of Legislation

 285. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide update on work to commence Part 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011; and when it will be possible to complete same. [51415/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Regulations required to facilitate the commencement of the remaining sections of Part 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 are currently at an advanced stage of drafting. I hope to have these regulations finalised and to commence the relevant sections of the Act as soon as possible.

Visa Applications

 286. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the progress to date in determination of application for visa in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51431/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the visa (join partner) application referred to by the Deputy was lodged at the Irish Embassy Office in Canberra on 13 November 2013. Due to the nature of the application, it cannot be processed by the Embassy under the delegated sanction given by my Department to the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade to process certain short-stay visas. It was therefore, transferred to the INIS Office in Dublin for consideration. A decision would normally be expected in approximately 8 weeks in a case such as this. In the interests of fairness, visa applications are dealt with strictly in order of date received. The applicant will receive a letter informing him of the decision on his application in due course. It is important to note that the permanent nature of the intended stay in Ireland in this case means that more in-depth consideration of the application will be required. As a consequence the processing will take longer than would be the case for a normal visit visa.

Queries in relation to general immigration matters may be made directly to INIS 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 from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Departmental Legal Costs

 287. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question No. 528 of 19 November 2013, if he will extract details for some of the more recent years of senior counsel expenditure in this specific area of criminal legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51496/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 provides that free legal aid may be granted, in certain circumstances, for the defence of persons of insufficient means in criminal proceedings. Under the Act, the grant of legal aid entitles the applicant to the services of a solicitor and, in certain circumstances, up to two counsel, in the preparation and conduct of their defence or appeal. The assignment of lawyers or the granting of aid are matters for the Court and, as such, are handled by the judiciary.

  Total expenditure under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme to senior counsel for the years 2006 to mid November 2013 is as follows:

Criminal Legal Aid

YEAR EXPENDITURE

€000
2006 €6,495
2007 €6,501
2008 €7,404
2009 €7,589
2010 €6,857
2011 €6,808
2012 €6,543
January to mid November 2013 €5,256

Criminal Prosecutions Data

 288. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of people charged and convicted of buying alcohol for a minor in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51510/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.     

Residency Permits

 289. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will set out the requirements to facilitate compliance with residency requirements in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51545/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In my reply to PQ number 164 dated 21 November 2013, in relation to the person mentioned by the Deputy, it was stated that a letter issued to the person on 7 November 2013 explaining his requirements as a student in the State. Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS 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. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Cash for Gold Trade

 290. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter further to Parliamentary Question No. 388 of 10 July 2012, if any developments, legislative or otherwise, have been made regarding the cash for gold business following consideration of the report published in summer 2012. [51549/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I published a report in June, 2012 on the criminal justice aspects of the cash for gold trade. The Report prepared by my Department is available on www.justice.ie. I requested the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence to consider the content of the report, to ensure that it obtains the views of all relevant interested parties and that it makes such report and recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to Government as it deems proportionate and appropriate in the public interest. I received the Committee's response on 30th May, 2013 and it is currently under consideration.

Garda Recruitment

 291. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if precedence will be given to Garda reserves in the upcoming recruitment drive recently announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51580/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) (Amendment) Regulation 2006, expressly provided that the Public Appointments Service would take into account any satisfactory service by a person as a reserve member of the Garda Síochána when they were applying to join the full time force. These same provisions for Reserve members are being incorporated into the new regulations. Arrangements are currently being finalised in conjunction with the Garda Commissioner and the Public Appointments Service for the holding of the recently announced Garda recruitment competition, including in relation to the processing of applications by members of the Garda Reserve.   

Legislative Process

 292. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter when the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 will be enacted; the current status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51581/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can confirm for the Deputy that steady progress continues to be made towards the enactment of the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 which remains a priority under both the Programme for Government and as an ongoing structural reform being delivered under the EU/IMF/ECB Troika programme.

As I have previously conveyed to the House, the Bill it is set to provide for the establishment of a new Legal Services Regulatory Authority that will be independent of the Government, the Law Society and the Bar Council in its appointment as well as in the discharge of its functions. The Bill will also establish an independent complaints framework to deal with allegations of professional misconduct to which the public will have direct access - at present such complaints are made through the professional bodies. There will also be an independent Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal to deal with allegations of serious misconduct by both solicitors and barristers. This will end the duplication of disciplinary structures between the two professional bodies.

These changes are being augmented by a more modern, consumer friendly and transparent legal costs regime under the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator that will take over the duties of the existing Taxing-Master. The Bill sets out, for the first time in legislation, a set of Legal Costs Principles, and the determinations of the Legal Costs Adjudicator will be made public. The Bill will also open the legal services sector to new business models that will provide new opportunities for legal services providers while also providing greater choice and competition for the benefit of consumers.

As the Deputy will be aware, Committee Stage of the Bill commenced on 17 July when I successfully introduced a series of key amendments to Part 2 of the Bill. These have further enhanced the independence of the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority which will be appointed by nominating bodies. Detailed work on the Bill continues in my Department in conjunction with the Offices of the Attorney General and of Parliamentary Counsel. It is my intention to make the remaining amendments for Committee Stage available before Christmas and, subject to the agreement of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, to resume Committee Stage early in the New Year.

Legislative Measures

 293. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans to bring Ireland in line with the rest of the European Union and create a criminal offence for race crimes or hate crimes that were motivated by fraud, racial discrimination, or prejudice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51583/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter EU Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law requires the Member States to criminalise incitement to hatred, hatred being defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent, or national or ethnic origin. The discriminatory grounds in Ireland's Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, which contains a number of criminal offences, go further since hatred, for the purposes of the Act, is defined as "hatred against a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation".

Legislative Measures

 294. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reason he has not implemented legislation to protect illegal migrant workers who are experiencing physical and sexual violence here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51584/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In the first instance, I would like to inform the Deputy that existing statutory protections against all types of violence, both physical and sexual, apply equally to all persons in the State regardless of their immigration status.

  In the case of illegal migrant workers who may be the victims of human trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 criminalises human trafficking for labour exploitation, including subjecting a person to forced labour and has penalties of up to life imprisonment. There is a diverse array of exploitative behaviours, ranging from infringement of labour regulations at one end of the spectrum, to human trafficking at the other, that may arise in such situations. Consequently, it is likely that exploitation of this nature could also be prosecuted under a number of other offences, for example, false imprisonment, blackmail, assault, the coercion offence under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, offences under employment law and health and safety legislation, immigration law, etc.

In addition, the State provides a wide range of support services to victims of human trafficking including accommodation, medical care and planning, psychological assistance, material assistance, legal aid and advice, vocational training and education. The Anti-Human Trafficking Team in the Health Service Executive develops individual comprehensive Care Plans for persons who are potentially victims of human trafficking addressing all of the support services that are required. My Department also provides funding to two NGO organisations, Ruhama and the Migrant’s Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI), who work with victims of human trafficking; MRCI have a particular focus on supporting migrant workers. A detailed Guide to the Procedures for supporting and protecting victims of human trafficking, along with other Guides and leaflets, are accessible on the dedicated anti-trafficking website www.blueblindfold.gov.ie. As ever, I would urge all victims of crime, including persons who believe that they may be victims of human trafficking, to report the matter to An Garda Síochána.

EU Presidency Agenda

 295. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the efforts made by his Department during the EU Presidency in working towards tackling racism and xenophobia across the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51610/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter During Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the European Union issues regarding the tackling of racism and xenophobia were central to my agenda.

  Last January’s Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers held in Dublin Castle afforded me the opportunity to put this important issue on the agenda of Justice Ministers. At this meeting, I tabled a paper for discussion on EU action to protect freedom of movement for EU Citizens and social integration by encouraging effective action and enhancing cooperation between justice systems in countering hate crime, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia. At this meeting I raised the need for broad public debate and consultation process with ministries and other public institutions in Member States, human rights and equality bodies and civil society to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of the rule of law, common values and protection of the fundamental rights of all.

  In May 2013 a conference entitled "A Europe of Equal Citizens - equality, fundamental rights and the rule of law" was organised in the framework of the Irish Presidency in Dublin. This conference played an important part in the debate on how to protect fundamental rights and promote the rule of law in Europe. The conference outlined the clear links between tackling hate crimes on one hand and promoting equality and fighting discrimination on the other.

  In June the Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted Council Conclusions on fundamental rights and the rule of law and on the Commission 2012 Report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. These Council Conclusions drew inspiration from the outcome of the discussions which took place at the Informal Justice and Home Affairs meeting and the Irish Presidency Conference in May. The Conclusions called, inter alia, on the Commission to take forward a debate on the need for ‘a collaborative and systematic method’ – i.e. a Rule of Law mechanism or initiative – to address these important issues.   They suggested guidance to the EU Commission as to how the debate on this important topic should be taken forward, stressing the need to take a holistic approach to all the issues arising. They also focused on the need to move forward on the basis of consensus, treating Member States on the basis of equality, working together to ensure that we achieve the standards we committed to on joining the EU and on the basis of designing an approach that will make a real difference to protection of those persons whose rights are most vulnerable to attack.

  Ireland remains an active participant in discussions on this issue. In recent weeks, I have contributed to a Conference on Hate Crimes organised by the Lithuanian Presidency and in the Assises de la Justice  organised by the Commission. In addition, my Department is working with a number of other Member States and with the Fundamental Rights Agency to craft a methodology by which appropriate rule of law indicators could be developed. The intention is to focus on a limited number of fundamental rights issues with a view to developing a methodology that can be applied to the wider range of rule of law questions as a contribution to the ongoing debate.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

 296. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide a transfer for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary from their current post to the Garda vetting unit; if his attention has been drawn to the personal circumstances of the person in question; the reason this was not considered for the recent transfers to this unit, in view of the fact that they were on the waiting list; if he will ensure that if any further vacancies-transfer opportunities become available to the vetting unit that they are offered to this person; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51620/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have requested the detailed information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and as soon as it is to hand I will pass it on to the Deputy.

Immigration Status

 297. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will set out the procedure to be followed to regularise their position in the case of non-EU nationals employed here, in some instances for up to ten years, occasionally employed by State agencies and meeting their statutory requirements in respect of PRSI, income tax and all other obligations but due to lack of work permit or updated residency status are now being informed by their employer who have been contacted by the Revenue Commissioners to the effect that they must cease employment notwithstanding the fact that many such persons hold pivotal positions in the workforce, have made a major contribution to society and continue to do so; if in such circumstances their situation can be urgently examined with a view to regularisation of their position; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51678/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is the responsibility of all non EEA nationals who are resident in the State to ensure that they have an appropriate permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality and the great majority of migrants comply with this condition. Payment of PRSI by a person working illegally in no sense confers legality on their situation, no more here than it would in any other jurisdiction. However it is open to the person concerned to set out the full circumstances of their case by writing to the General Immigration Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department, 13/14 Burgh Quay Dublin 2 where their case will be considered.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

 298. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the criminal injuries compensation tribunal is at present unable to adjudicate on cases as members have not been appointed to same; when he proposes to rectify same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [51723/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I can inform the Deputy that under the terms of Paragraph 17 of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted I am at present in the process of appointing a new Tribunal to administer the Scheme. As the Deputy may be aware I have recently appointed a Tribunal Chairperson, Mr. John Cheatle, B.L. I also can inform the Deputy that under the terms of the Scheme the Tribunal Chairperson can determine applications and in that regard he is entirely independent. I expect to appoint the remaining members in the near future.


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