Written Answers Nos. 308 - 325
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 308 - 325
Court Accommodation Provision
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and I am informed that there are no plans at present to construct a new Supreme Court. I am informed that proposals drawn up in 2009 for the development of the Four Courts as a Civil Courts Campus included a proposal to relocate the Supreme Court in a new building within the Four Courts complex, however, due to financial constraints these proposals have not progressed. Work is currently underway within the Four Courts complex to provide accommodation for the new Court of Appeal within existing buildings in the complex.
309. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on the effectiveness of Operation Fiacla; the resources allocated to this operation in 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35462/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Since Operation Fiacla commenced, significant inroads have been made into targeting those involved in burglary. As of 30 July, 9,992 persons have been arrested and 5,801 persons have been charged with burglary offences under Operation Fiacla.
Children First Guidelines
310. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on the implementation of the Children First policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35463/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will appreciate that overall responsibility for policy with respect to Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children rests with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Along with other relevant Departments and agencies, my Department is represented on the Children First Implementation Inter-Departmental Group (CFIDG), chaired by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
Commissions of Investigation
311. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current timeframe for each commission of investigation, including known future commissions of investigation, within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35464/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The order establishing the Commission of Investigation into the fatal shooting in May 1998 of Ronan MacLochlainn by members of the Garda Síochána in Ashford, County Wicklow, was signed on 23 July 2014 and the Commission commenced its work in late August. The terms of reference provide for this Commission to report to me within 6 months.
As the Deputy is aware, the Government has committed to establishing a Commission of Investigation into matters arising from the report by Seán Guerin SC of 6 May 2014 of the review of the action taken by the Garda Síochána pertaining to certain allegations made by Sergeant McCabe. The terms of reference of the Commission, including the timeframe, and the appointment of a member, are under consideration and will be finalised very shortly. I have also been conscious that this period of preparation could provide an opportunity for consideration to be given to the inclusion in the terms of reference of such additional cases, if any, as may be identified as appropriate for a Commission of Investigation arising from the establishment of the independent review by counsel of allegations of Garda misconduct which commenced work recently. The panel does have a significant number of cases to examine, however, and it may be that any recommendations it may make in regard to a Commission of Investigation will be dealt with subsequent to the establishment of this Commission of Investigation.
Liquor Licensing Laws
312. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of test purchases which have been carried out under section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 in the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014. [35566/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the report is to hand.
313. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on the development of an integration strategy; and when she plans to publish the strategy. [35567/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Programme for Government contains a commitment to promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups in Ireland, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities. A significant level of activity is taking place in pursuit of this commitment.
314. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in view of the revelations on a television programme on 15 September 2014 regarding support services available to discharged female prisoners from the Dóchas Centre, she will increase the funding available to ensure greater supports are provided to these women to ensure they do not re-offend and return to prison. [35572/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Irish Prison Service is developing a comprehensive approach to prisoner release planning, to include a prisoner release policy, related protocols and standard operating procedures. It is intended to have these completed by October 2014.
The Irish Prison Service aims to ensure all releases from Irish prisons and places of detention are planned releases. The policy will standardise pre-release planning across the Irish Prison Service Estate and ensure the informed and effective transition of the offender from prison to the community, in compliance with statutory, legal and sentencing provisions.
This policy will apply to all prisons and places of detention in the Irish Prison Service estate and covers such areas as: Housing/Accommodation Needs, Financial Supports, Healthcare, Public Safety and Statutory Requirements, Families & Personal Relationships, Education, Training and Employment.
It is recognised that a serious deficiency exists in the infrastructural provision for female prisoners, in the context of a transition from a traditional, secure custodial location to a facility with a lower security level, prior to release into the community. Male prisoners can transfer from a closed prison to the Training Unit, a semi-open institution with a focus on vocational training and an established programme of escalating release to education, work and training or addiction treatment in the community. Suitable male prisoners can transfer to one of two open centres in the jurisdiction, where they can enjoy a significantly lower level of supervision and security, along with more relaxed visiting arrangements. Transfer to such facilities from closed prisons is of enormous value to prisoners, in the context of normalisation, increasing personal responsibility, consolidating family supports and easing the transition from custody to community, all of which contribute towards reducing tendencies towards reoffending.
To date, no such facilities have been available to female prisoners; however, I am informed by my officials that plans are well advanced for the construction of a day and residential campus in North Dublin to meet the needs of vulnerable women. This will offer a safe environment with day and residential programmes and services offered to single women who need respite and care. The services provided will be offered in such a way to support the women to become as independent as possible.
Many women are sent from the courts to the Dóchas Centre on short sentences of less than a year - usually for non-violent matters, including Theft, Burglary, TAIB (Threatening, Abusive, and Insulting Behaviour) and Intoxication in a Public Place. The fact they are serving short sentences gives the prison-based services little time to identify their issues and address their needs. Often the Dóchas Centre is a place of respite for this category of offender. It is the experience of the Irish Prison Service that many women are imprisoned directly or indirectly because of addiction, mental health, poverty and homelessness. The overall picture is that women offenders are likely to be poor, have limited education and are either unemployed or in low skilled employment. Many experience accommodation problems, often resulting in homelessness, and problems of addiction and/or mental health often feature. Significant numbers of women offenders have experienced abuse, either in childhood or in adulthood. Many women offenders are mothers of young children and may struggle with parenting because of their personal circumstances and unmet needs.
This new facility will play a significant role in providing a gradual, supported transition from prison to community for women prisoners. The campus will be subject to a management steering group comprising representatives of the statutory agencies involved, they are: Dublin City Council (Lead), the HSE, The Probation Service, CDTEB and Irish Prison Service. The campus will also be used as a community resource for the people of Finglas so that the campus truly reflects a community based resource.
315. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will use her absolute discretion to revoke a deportation order in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath, with particular reference to his employment history within the State from 2005 to 2014, inclusive. [35578/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that no deportation order has been made in the case of the person referred to by the Deputy.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Over the past number of years strong legislative, administrative and operational measures have been put in place in Ireland to combat and prevent trafficking in human beings. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, with penalties of up to life imprisonment for human trafficking, greatly strengthened the law in this area and this legislation was further bolstered in 2013 with new forms of exploitation, for forced begging and forced criminal activities, being provided for in new legislation. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking)(Amendment) Act 2013 also provided, for the first time, a definition of 'forced labour' in Irish law, based on the International Labour Organisation's definition.
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person referred to is the subject of a Deportation Order and therefore has no entitlement to residency in the State.
Appointments to State Boards
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, following the appearance of the new chairperson before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality last Thursday, the new board of the National Disability Agency is now in place. I can also inform the Deputy that the first meeting of the board took place yesterday. Details of the membership have been published on my Department's website and my office will forward a copy to the Deputy.
Irish Prison Service
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will be aware that in accordance with Government Decision S180/20/10/0964C of 3 February and 24 March 2009 on the implementation of savings measures on public service numbers, more generally referred to as the moratorium on public sector recruitment, filling of vacancies in the Irish Prison Service is subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance. I can advise the Deputy that there are no immediate plans to recruit additional prison officers.
321. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of successful convictions obtained by gardaí in the R district on bars and clubs for the offence of serving alcohol to persons aged under 18 years in the years 2012 and 2013. [35715/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): 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.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Awards
322. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to an application made by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that this application has been waiting three years for assessment and it has been some 12 years since the incident occurred; the reasons behind this unreasonable delay; if her attention has also been drawn to the hardship this delay has caused to this person and their family; if she will expedite this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35749/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, under the terms of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual applications for compensation that fall to be considered by the Tribunal. However, in order to be of assistance to you in the matter I have had enquiries made with the Tribunal on your behalf.
323. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will ensure that the Garda has the resources and manpower to deal with the drugs gangs that intimidate whole communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35842/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of all resources, including personnel, among the Garda Regions, Divisions and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources.
Legal Aid Applications
Garda Disciplinary Proceedings
325. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí suspended from duty, excluding day suspensions for court appearances, by rank, over the past four years; the numbers per category who were subsequently disciplined; and the nature of the sanction imposed. [35923/14]
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