Header Item Written Answers Nos. 435-51
 Header Item Passports for Investment Scheme
 Header Item Decentralisation Programme Expenditure
 Header Item Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Remit
 Header Item Garda Horses
 Header Item Legal Services Regulation
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration
 Header Item Student Visas Eligibility
 Header Item Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Immigration Registration Certificate Fees

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 825 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 435-51

Passports for Investment Scheme

 435. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if the production of plays and theatre would be considered a suitable high potential start-up business in order for a non-EEA applicant to qualify for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme and secure residency status here.  [53894/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter For the purposes of the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme a High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) is defined as a start-up venture that is:

 - introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets,

 - capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of starting up,

 - led by an experienced management team,

 - headquartered and controlled in Ireland,

 - less than six years old.

  This is the definition of a HPSU as used by Enterprise Ireland who are actively involved in the development and promotion of Ireland as an attractive location for HPSU projects. While this definition is not intended to be absolutely rigid in the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, it nevertheless provides guidance as to what sort of projects were envisaged when the programme was introduced.   While most of the projects approved under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme have been in technology or technology related fields, the Programme is however open to any proposal - including one of the nature referred to by the Deputy - that can be demonstrated to have the potential to meet the above criteria. In applying for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme it is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate this potential. In the case of a theatrical venture the artistic and commercial track record of those involved is something that would also need to be considered.

Decentralisation Programme Expenditure

 436. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will outline what offices relevant to his Department are located or have been decentralised outside of Dublin; if he will provide the total number of staff in his Department and the number of staff based outside County Dublin as of 2013; the annual cost incurred in 2012 and 2013, respectively, for decentralised staff travelling to meetings in Dublin; the number of times staff travelled to individual meetings in Dublin in each of those years; the costs those staff will be reimbursed for; if his Department has procedures or mechanisms in place such as video-conferencing to reduce the cost of travelling for each unit based outside Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53998/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter My Department has a number of key offices that are located outside Dublin as a consequence of decentralisation since the early 1990s. These are:

LocationStaff (Whole time equivalent) based outside Dublin (End October 2013)
Irish Prison Service Longford 115.63
Financial Shared Service Killarney

(End of December 2013)
162.34
Office of the Data Protection Commissioner Portarlington28.23
Equality Authority Roscrea2.3
Property Services Regulatory Authority Navan0.4
Coroners Office Navan2.00
Private Security Authority Tipperary32.8
Citizenship Tipperary51.21
Inspector of Prisons Nenagh5.00
Total419.91


  In addition to the above the Probation Service provides a nationwide service and in so doing has a further 176 in whole-time equivalent terms located outside Dublin. This means that a total of 595.91 staff are based outside of Dublin.

  The Deputy should also note that on 2 December just under 30 staff in whole-time equivalent terms transferred from the Department's Killarney Offices to the Payroll Shared Service Centre in Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

  The total staff in my Department is 1948 and of these almost 600 as set out above are based or located outside of Dublin.

  I am advised that the total cost incurred for travel and subsistence in respect of staff in the above locations, with the exception of the Equality Authority in Roscrea and IPS in Longford was €165,821.15 in 2012 and in 2013 was €161,683.93. This related to travel by 137 staff in 2012 and 150 in 2013. The Deputy should note that whilst a proportion of this cost would have related to meetings in Dublin, it would take a disproportionate amount of time and effort in analysing the travel and subsistence records to isolate Dublin as a location, to evaluate the purpose of the travel and calculate the number of meetings involved.

  The cost of travel and subsistence in respect of staff in the Irish Prison Service, paid in accordance with standard travel and subsistence rates, was €396,000 in 2012 and €322,00 in 2013. The nature of the business of the Irish Prison Service is that it operates on a nationwide basis with major prison locations throughout the country as well as in Dublin. Again, the Deputy should note that whilst a proportion of this cost would have related to meetings in Dublin, it is not possible to collate the cost of travel and subsistence to isolate Dublin as a location for the reasons stated above.

  In relation to video-conferencing I am advised that sophisticated video-conferencing units are already installed or are in the process of being installed in the following and create business efficiencies:

 - The Irish Prison Service, Longford

 - Financial Shared Services, Killarney

 - The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, Portarlington

 - The Private Security Authority and the Citizenship Division of INIS based in Tipperary

  In the other locations outside Dublin referenced above, I am advised that my Department continues to keep all of these locations under review and will consider requests for the installation of new or further units or the deployment of other technology to reduce the cost of travel and enhance business collaboration and efficiencies where appropriate business cases exist.

  My Department is also actively examining the deployment of other ICT technologies in 2014 and beyond in order to further enhance the ability of all business users to keep in touch and join meetings using a range of collaborative technologies.

  I am also aware that my Department has in place strict guidelines and protocols, in common with other civil service organisations, which govern the operation of the travel and subsistence provisions so as to minimise the expenditure incurred, including minimising the number of trips made, using public transport where available and sharing travel arrangements where practicable.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Remit

 437. 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 if, for any reason, information comes to his attention or the attention of the Garda Commissioner alleging corruption and either party fails to act, this a dereliction of duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54013/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am assuming that the Deputy's question relates to allegations of corruption involving members of the Garda Síochána.

In addition to the role of the Garda Commissioner in investigating allegations of criminality or misconduct relating to any member of the Force, the Garda Síochána Act 2005 has established the independent Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to investigate complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of the Gardaí, and regulations under the Act have established an independent Confidential Recipient to whom members of the Force can report, in confidence, instances which they believe may involve corruption or malpractice within the Force.

I have no reason to believe that allegations of corruption are not appropriately addressed.

Garda Horses

 438. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has received any request from the Garda Commissioner to increase the number of horses in the Garda mounted unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54022/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The provision and deployment of Garda resources, including specialist units, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

   In that context, I am advised by the Garda authorities that there are currently 13 horses attached to the Garda Mounted Unit with a further horse undergoing assessment.

  The operational requirements of the Garda Mounted Unit are kept under on-going review.   

  Questions Nos. 439 and 440 answered with Question No. 432.

Legal Services Regulation

 441. 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. 98 of 10 December 2013, if he will elaborate further on the specific business models for the delivery of legal services he envisages would introduce cost efficiencies that could be captured to the benefit of consumers arising from the enactment of the Bill; if he will publish or cite publications or case studies which demonstrate such business models will introduce cost efficiencies that can be captured to the benefit of consumers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54049/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011, which has completed Second Stage and is continuing Committee Stage which commenced on 17 July, gives legislative expression to the commitment in the Programme for Government to "establish independent regulation of the legal professions to improve access and competition, make legal costs more transparent and ensure adequate procedures for addressing consumer complaints".Furthermore, as a sectoral objective under the EU/IMF/ECB Troika Memorandum of Understanding, it supports the objectives of structural reform, national competitiveness and early economic recovery, building on the relevant recommendations of the Legal Costs Working Group and the Competition Authority.

  The Deputy will wish to be aware that the then Fair Trade Commission, in paragraph 11.35 of its 'Report of Study into Restrictive Practices in the Legal Profession' published in March of 1990, recommended that there 'should be the greatest possible freedom allowed to individual solicitors and barristers to decide themselves upon the most suitable form of business organisation through which to offer their services to clients, with adequate safeguards to ensure the preservation of standards.'   The Solicitors (Amendment) Act of 1994 took account of this Report by making respective provision in sections 70 and 71 for the possible establishment of incorporated practices and for the sharing of fees by solicitors with non-solicitor partners arising from either a partnership or an agency agreement in what amounts to a multi-disciplinary practice. Consequently, these two forms of new practice model continue to be provided for in statute since that time and are not merely a recent innovation.

  Subsequently, the 'Report of the Legal Costs Working Group' published in November 2005 and that of the Competition Authority of December 2006 entitled 'Competition in Professional Services: Solicitors and Barristers', put forward detailed findings and recommendations in relation to greater transparency in the legal costs regime and by way of supporting the more competitive and consumer-focussed provision of legal services in the State. Indeed, the Competition Authority Report of 2006 provides a series of substantial observations that clearly identify and respond to the market concentration of legal services already resulting at that time from the delivery of those services within the confines of narrow historical models that could not be adequately responsive to the needs of current markets, business technologies and consumer behaviour. I cannot accept, therefore, the import of the Deputy's Question as put, that the interests of consumers and our international competitiveness would be better served by the mere retention of anti-competitive or restrictive business models in a sheltered legal services sector that would remain immune to the kind of structural reform that, in every other services sector, has proven itself essential to sustainable economic recovery at this time.

  As the Deputy will be aware, numerous jurisdictions have introduced new and more customer-focussed legal business models in the intervening period since the Competition Authority's Report of 2006. These "alternative business structures" (ABS) can involve the traditional legal services provided by barristers and/or solicitors or combine them, in what are known as "multi-disciplinary practices", with those of accountants, insurance brokers, conveyancers or other professionals to provide seamless solutions for clients on a more cost-effective basis. To ignore these changes would leave legal practitioners and the consumers of their services in this jurisdiction at a growing competitive disadvantage, not to mention continuing to disregard almost a quarter of a century of recommendations from public bodies such as the Fair Trade Commission. Consequently, in looking to the future, the Legal Services Regulation Bill includes several measures aimed at opening up the provision of legal services in a way that takes account of the emergent legal business models. These will include new opportunities for legal practitioners to establish the types of multi-disciplinary practices mentioned; for solicitors and barristers to participate in legal partnerships; for legal practitioners working for private or State entities to be allowed to act as advocates in court proceedings for their employers; for practising barristers who share premises and costs as a group to be allowed to advertise themselves as such; for solicitors to employ barristers in a practice and for direct access to barristers in non-contentious matters that do not involve the holding of clients monies.

  It must be recognised that alternative business structures or multi-disciplinary practices and their attendant regulatory frameworks have been, or continue to be, rolled out in other open economies like our own such as England and Wales, Scotland, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and parts of Canada, including British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario and that there is a wealth of information, regulatory precedent and academic analysis now available on them. The Legal Services Act 2007 provided for the introduction of ABS, including multi-disciplinary practices, in England and Wales - over 240 licences for ABS have been issued to date. The Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 also allows for ABS that include multi-disciplinary practices. In Canada, the legislation relates more narrowly to multi-disciplinary practices. Along with officials of my Department, I have been actively reviewing and considering in detail how the introduction of ABS is taking place in all of these jurisdictions along with the relevant literature and those submissions received.   I am also considering the various issues of probity and regulation so that they will continue to be addressed in the development of the Legal Services Regulation Bill.   

  The genesis and development of policy in this area, culminating in the policy imperatives of the Programme for Government and the EU/IMF/ECB Troika Memorandum to which I have already referred, are set-out in the Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Legal Services Regulation Bill that is available on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality via the internet link, www.justice.ie. Amendments to the Legal Services Regulation Bill are being considered by Government with a view to their be made available prior to the resumption of Committee Stage of the Bill which is expected to take place in the New Year.

Citizenship Applications

 442. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the options open to an Irish citizen, by virtue of an Irish grandfather, who has adult children living abroad and who wishes to move to live and work here; if he will advise of the position in this scenario; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54056/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter A person is an Irish citizen from birth if at the time of his or her birth either parent was an Irish citizen. A person born outside of Ireland with a parent who was also born outside Ireland and an Irish citizen grandparent who was born in Ireland may become an Irish citizen by registration in the Foreign Births Register, which is maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs. Future generations may become Irish citizens in this way provided that their parents had registered their birth in the Foreign Births Register before the children were born.

  If persons are not entitled to Irish citizenship by descent, they may apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Section 15 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are that the applicant must:

 - be of full age

 - be of good character

 - have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years

 - intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation

 - have, before a judge of the District Court in open court, in a citizenship ceremony or in such manner as the Minister, for special reasons, allows—

(i) made a declaration, in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, and

(ii) undertaken to faithfully observe the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values.

  Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, waive some or all of the statutory conditions in certain circumstances i.e. where an applicant is of Irish descent or of Irish associations; where an applicant is a person who is a refugee within the meaning of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; or where an applicant is a Stateless person within the meaning of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Stateless persons. Every such application is decided upon on its individual circumstances and in accordance with the law.

  The non-EEA adult children of a person who has been granted Irish citizenship by descent do not have an automatic right to residency in the State. If they wish to remain in the State beyond the maximum period of 90 days granted to visitors they can apply for permission to remain on certain grounds. The main grounds upon which permission to remain can be obtained are: for the purposes of employment, where the person has to be the holder of a work permit; to study; to operate a business or as the spouse or dependant child of an Irish or EEA national in the State. If the persons concerned are visa required nationals they are required to apply for an Irish visa seeking permission to travel to the State. Further information on obtaining permission to remain in the State is available on the Department's website www.inis.gov.ie.

Garda Investigations

 443. 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 is satisfied that the terms of reference of the consideration of the Fr. Niall Molloy case have been published even though no consultation had taken place with those who handed over the evidence of a cover-up.  [54150/13]

 451. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he consulted those who handed in evidence on the Fr. Niall Molloy case in relation to the terms of reference of the proposed inquiry. [54278/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 443 and 451 together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos 71, 99, 380 and 381 of 10 December 2013 wherein I informed the House that the Senior Counsel carrying out the proposed examination of the report of the Serious Crime Review Team in this case will be asked to do two things, namely, first, to prepare a report which can be put into the public domain on any issues of public interest which may arise from the report, having regard to the rights of all those involved; and second, taking into account existing mechanisms for the investigation of offences, to identify matters, if any, of significant public concern arising from this examination and in respect of which such further inquiry would have a reasonable prospect of establishing the truth.

I am satisfied that the terms of reference, which were drawn up following discussion with the Attorney General, and which have been shared with the family, will ensure that these two objectives are met and do not require further consultation or discussion. My priority is instead to see this process commence as soon as possible.

As the Deputies are aware, An Garda Síochána met with and kept the family members updated during the course of their examination of the issues raised by family members and others in this case, and the report of that Garda examination forms the basis for the review by the Senior Counsel. I have already indicated to the House that, as soon as a person is appointed to conduct the examination, I will let the family know.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration

 444. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide an Oireachtas Members' inquiry line for his Department and INIS, as operated by other Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54154/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I wish to inform the Deputy that the primary area of activity in my Department that gives rise to enquiries from members of the Oireachtas falls under the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) which is responsible for the administration of the State’s immigration system, dealing with very substantial volumes of cases each year. By way of illustration, in 2012, INIS dealt with approximately 165,000 new applications across the broad immigration spectrum such as applications for visas, residence, protection and citizenship. Understandably, given that volume of activity a very large number of queries from Oireachtas Members on the status of individual applications are received by INIS.

In recognition of the need to facilitate Oireachtas Members in submitting representations and queries and to provide timely and effective responses to all matters raised, a dedicated Oireachtas Members email service has been established by INIS. This service, for the exclusive use of Oireachtas Members, assists Members seeking information on individual cases while also enabling large volumes of queries to be dealt with speedily and efficiently. In 2012, almost 4,800 email queries were processed through the Oireachtas email service, with a similar volume being dealt with in 2013 to date. It is also the case that issues in respect of individual immigration cases are regularly raised through the Parliamentary Questions process and directly with my Private Office, all of which are responded to in an appropriate and timely manner.

As I am sure the Deputy will agree the main priority for INIS must continue to be the processing of cases as expeditiously as possible. In that context and in view of the fact that an efficient email enquiry service is available to Oireachtas Members, I am of the opinion that the right balance is being struck between facilitating Members in making enquiries to INIS and the efficient processing of applications and that the provision of an enquiry line as suggested by the Deputy would have the effect of diverting scarce resources away from case processing.

I do not see any current need or demand that would justify the extension of the system provided by INIS to other areas of my Department. Nor do I see any business need to establish an enquiry line for sole use by members of the Oireachtas. It is always open to any member of the Oireachtas who has a concern which they wish to raise to write to my Department.

Student Visas Eligibility

 445. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the reasons students who are sponsored by the Libyan Government and who wish to study English before going on to third level study here are required to have letters of acceptance from third-level colleges here before they are allowed to study English while the same requirement is not made of other sponsored students who are allowed to arrange their third-level study while in Ireland studying English. [54169/13]

 446. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the contacts there has been between his Department and the Libyan Government to facilitate Libyan students coming here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54170/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 445 and 446 together.

Visa applications from Libyan nationals are treated in a similar manner to applications from other nationals.

Visa required nationals who wish to pursue third level studies in Ireland, following foundation English language studies, are normally required to submit, as part of their visa application, letters of acceptance from the third level institutions concerned. Such letters confirm that the individual has been accepted and enrolled on a course of full-time education. The applicants to whom the Deputy refers had submitted statements of financial support from the Libyan authorities for the purpose of pursuing English language studies and further third level studies in the State. However, they had submitted letters of acceptance from English language schools only as they did not have confirmed plans at the time of application to pursue further third level studies in the State. As I indicated earlier, there are soundly based public policy reasons as to why letters of acceptance are also sought from third level institutions.

Taking account of the fact that these students will be fully funded by the Libyan authorities, and subject to their meeting all the requirements for a visa for English language studies only, it was deemed appropriate to make an exception in these cases and to forgo the requirement for letters of acceptance from third level institutions. In the event that these applicants are granted permission for English studies, they will have the option of applying to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department to extend that permission if they are accepted on a third level course and can demonstrate that they have reached the required standard of English. It is open to persons who may have been refused a visa in these circumstances to submit a fresh application.

There have been no contacts between my Department and the Libyan Government in relation to student matters.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Administration

 447. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the waiting times at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service at Burgh Quay; if there is a customer service policy; if there are any plans to improve waiting times and customer service at Burgh Quay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54171/13]

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 its offices at Burgh Quay provides services in respect of registration of all Non-EEA persons who intend to reside in the State for longer than 90 days in respect of those living in the Dublin Metropolitan Region. This service is provided by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. In addition, the office also provides a public service for applicants seeking re-entry visas and this service is administered by INIS. Also, on a daily basis the office receives a number of callers seeking information or for other business. In total the number of persons attending the office is in the region of 130,000 per annum.

The nature of the services provided is such that it is demand led and accordingly, there are peaks and valleys in the numbers of callers at different times of the year. For example, there is marked increased demand for registrations during the period from late September to the end of November, linked to the academic year, when a significant number of students apply for first time registration or re-registration. Equally, there is increased demand for re-entry visa services in early summer prior to the holiday period and also before Christmas and Easter.

The Burgh Quay offices are open for registrations from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday and 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Fridays. While this requires significant staff resources, the long opening hours is aimed at catering for applicants who may be studying or working and find it more convenient to come to the office outside of office hours. Specific times are set aside for certain categories of persons such as students. The public office for re-entry visas is open from 8 a.m. to approximately 2 p.m. Monday to Friday. However, in the vast majority of cases it is not necessary to attend in person for a re-entry visa as INIS operates a postal service which is a more efficient option for applicants. Where there are genuine emergencies and persons need to travel at short notice, INIS facilitates such persons to be dealt with in person.

My Department’s customer service charter encompasses INIS and the organisation is continually seeking to improve the quality of services provided to customers. A major overall of the public reception facilities in Burgh Quay with expanded dedicated areas for dealing with the public has recently been completed. In addition, the immigration service is planning to introduce an on-line booking system for appointments which is part of a wider plan to transfer the registration function from the Garda National Immigration Bureau to INIS. The aim of the booking system is to give certainty to customers that they will be dealt with within a stated time window and at the same time enabling the immigration service to match its staff resources to meet demand at any particular time. The new reception facilities have been designed to cater for such a system.

Finally, I might add that this office is probably one of the busiest Public Offices with some of the longest opening times in the State. As I indicated earlier, around 130,000 persons attend the Burgh Quay office each year, which I am sure the Deputy will appreciate presents ongoing logistical challenges. I am advised that over the past 18 months there has been no unmanageable issues with queues taking into account the scale of the operation involved. I am confident that the measures outlined above will further improve the services provided to its customers calling to this office.

Residency Permits

 448. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his position in relation to an earned regularisation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54178/13]

 449. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his Department has given consideration to an earned regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54217/13]

 453. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will introduce an earned regularisation scheme for the 30,000 undocumented workers living here. [54345/13]

 455. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will support the proposal for an earned regularisation scheme for undocumented emigrants and their families living here which will pave the way for permanent residency status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54385/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 448, 449, 453 and 455 together.

I am familiar with the ongoing campaign in this area but at present my Department have no plans to introduce any form of a so-called earned regularisation scheme. It remains 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. It does not follow logically that the solution to illegal migration is for the Irish State to reward those who engage in it.

If a person is undocumented his/her case can be considered on its merits by officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of my Department and part of this consideration involves looking at the extent to which the person's situation is through no fault of his/her own. Sometimes this consideration will result in a positive outcome for the applicant. In other cases, the decision by the Irish authorities, subject to the oversight of our Courts, would be that the person has to go home. That decision should be respected.

Broad regularisation programmes are problematic. They could give rise to unpredictable and potentially very costly impacts across the full range of public and social services. At EU Level, the Member States, in agreeing the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum at the European Council in October 2008 made specific commitments "to use only case-by-case regularisation, rather than generalised regularisation, under national law, for humanitarian or economic reasons". While the Pact is not legally binding, the political commitment among Member States, then and now, is clearly against any form of process that would in any way legitimise the status of those unlawfully present without first examining the merits of their individual cases. In our case there are also significant considerations based on maintaining the integrity of the Common Travel Area with the UK which must be taken into account.

Any significant departure from well established policies in this respect would have a major impact on the operation of the Common Travel Area both here and in the United Kingdom.

Finally, I note that a figure of 30,000 is cited on the number of illegal immigrants in the State; by definition it is impossible to state with any accuracy the number of persons without lawful permission to remain in the State and in this respect, Ireland is no different to any other country.

Immigration Registration Certificate Fees

 450. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the guidelines relating to the cost of replacing a Garda National Immigration Bureau card if the original is lost or stolen. [54229/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Section 19 of the Immigration Act, 2004 (as amended), provides that a non-national is required to pay a fee to the registration officer, An Garda Síochána, for the issue of a registration certificate. In practice this is the card referred to by the Deputy. This fee is set by regulations made by the Minister for Justice and Equality with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The fee also applies in circumstances where, as a result of a card being lost or stolen, a new Registration Certificate has to be issued. The fee is currently €300; it does not apply to those categories of persons subject to the fee waiver as set out in the Immigration Act 2004 (Registration Certificate Fee) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 444 of 2012).

While my Department is, of course, prepared to look at the particular circumstances of every case where a person requires to have a lost or stolen certificate replaced, a strong case would have to be made as to why the fee for the reissue of the certificate should to be waived. Persons who are issued with a registration certificate should be aware that it is an important document which should be kept safely at all times. The loss or theft of a registration certificate should be reported immediately to An Garda Síochána.

  Question No. 451 answered with Question No. 443.


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