Written Answers Nos. 294 - 310
Dáil Éireann Debate
Written Answers Nos. 294 - 310
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): I, along with my colleagues Deputy Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and Deputy Paudie Coffey, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, launched the Government's annual 'Be Winter Ready' 2014-2015 Information Campaign on 13 November, 2014. The campaign aims to inform and reassure people that the Government has made preparations for the winter. Through a dedicated website www.winterready.ie, advice is being made available from a wide range of sources including Government Departments, An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive, Local Authorities and the transport providers. The advice has been categorised under various headings including: the Home, Road Safety, Schools, the Farming Community and the Business Sector and outlines how Government Departments and Agencies are addressing the necessary preparations for the winter, particularly with regard to our roads and other infrastructures should we experience bad weather periods.
295. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Defence the amount of funding provided to the Office of Emergency Planning in preparation for winter; the way this funding is being administered within the Office of Emergency Planning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45816/14]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): The estimated cost of Winter Ready 2014/15 is approximately €40,000. The Winter Ready campaign was introduced by the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning in November 2011 to provide advice and information to help the public be better prepared to deal with a period of severe weather. A website www.winterready.ie is available to provide practical advice and contact details of the main services that can provide help in extreme weather-related emergencies. The campaign aims to inform and reassure people that the Government has made preparations for the winter. The key message of the campaign is “to be prepared, stay safe and know where to get help should you need it”.
296. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence further to Parliamentary Question No. 97 of 13 November 2014, if the position in respect of the person's disability pension has been approved by the court with particular reference to the fact that the current status had previously been quashed in 1987; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45827/14]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): The original decision of March 1987, to take the total compensation into consideration in deciding the rate of disability pension applicable in this case, was quashed on foot of a High Court Order of 23 November 1987, and a review of the case was ordered to be undertaken.
A new Ministerial decision was made following this review. The fresh decision taken was not approved by the High Court, nor was such approval required. As previously outlined I am satisfied that the High Court Order did not preclude the then Minister for Defence from arriving at the same decision and I do not believe that the decision made was in conflict with the High Court Order.
297. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence the anti-malarial medications being provided for those members of the Defence Forces travelling to Sierra Leone; if he is satisfied that Defence Forces' policy in regard to the use of anti-malaria medication is in line with international best practice. [45836/14]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), formerly The Irish Medicines Board (IMB), is the statutory authority with responsibility for the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines in Ireland. There are three anti-malarial medications licensed by the HPRA , in use in the Defence Forces, namely Lariam (mefloquine), Malarone and Doxycycline. The malaria chemoprophylactic agent of choice for use in Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be Lariam.
298. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence the number of official overseas trips that he has undertaken since he assumed office; if he will detail the venues visited; and the official overseas trips planned between now and December 2015. [46137/14]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): During each Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one formal and one informal meeting of Defence Ministers is held. Defence Ministers meet as the ‘Foreign Affairs Council in Defence Ministers’ format’. These Council meetings are held in Brussels or Luxembourg at the invitation of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Since I was appointed as Minister for Defence on 11 July 2014, I have attended the informal meeting of Defence Ministers held during the Italian Presidency in Milan from 9 to 10 September. I also attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Defence Ministers format in Brussels on 18 November.
Appointments to State Boards
299. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence the number of State board appointments that have been made under the aegis of his Department in 2014 without being advertised; the number that have been made of persons who had not formally applied for consideration of the particular appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46544/14]
Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): The only body under the aegis of my Department is the Army Pensions Board. The Army Pensions Board is an independent statutory body established under the Army Pensions Act, 1927.
Property Services Regulation
300. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to amend legislation governing the way management companies charge fees in relation to residential estate management; the purpose of any proposed legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46045/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The primary purpose of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 is to reform the law relating to the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and to facilitate the fair, efficient and effective management of owners' management companies (OMCs). These are bodies established for the management of such areas, the membership of which comprise the owners of residential units within the development.
Garda Misconduct Allegations
301. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will meet with a victim of abuse (details supplied) who is campaigning for justice for their child who was killed in 1973 in Dalkey, County Dublin (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46219/14]
350. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has received any recent report on Garda investigations into the death of a person (details supplied); and if she is prepared to meet with the mother of the person and the victim of abuse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46209/14]
The matter to which the Deputy refers is amongst complaints being considered under the mechanism established for the independent review of certain allegations of Garda misconduct, or inadequacies in the investigation of certain allegations, which have been made to me as Minister for Justice and Equality, or the Taoiseach, with a view to determining to what extent and in what manner further action may be required in each case.
A panel consisting of two Senior and five Junior Counsel was established for the purpose. The counsel appointed to the panel were all selected on the basis of their experience of the criminal justice system. The review of each complaint will consist of an examination of the papers in the complaint by a counsel from the panel. Following the review of each complaint a recommendation will be made as to whether any further action is desirable and could practicably be taken. In the circumstances a meeting with the person referred to by the Deputy would not be appropriate at the current time.
302. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the determination of a visa application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45767/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person concerned, having no valid basis to remain in the State, was notified, by letter dated 22nd August, 2013, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of them, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). They were given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making written representations to the then Minister setting out the reasons why they should not have a Deportation Order made against them. Written representations have been submitted by and on behalf of the person concerned.
The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully considered in advance of a final decision being made.
Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department 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 the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.
303. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will introduce legislation to make the purchasing of prostitution an offence; the steps she will take to provide help and assistance to prostitutes seeking to leave prostitution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45772/14]
304. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to introduce legislation to tackle prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45774/14]
321. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality regarding her plans to introduce new legislation regarding the criminalisation of the purchase of sex, if she will take account of concerns and views of those working in the industry. [45986/14]
On 27 November, I published the General Scheme of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014. The General Scheme of the Bill includes wide ranging provisions to enhance the protection of children and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse and exploitation. In addition, two new offences of purchasing, in the context of prostitution, sexual services will be created.
The first is a general offence of purchasing sexual services which carries a penalty of a fine of up to €500 for a first offence and fines of up to €1000 for a second or subsequent offence. The second is the more serious offence of purchasing a sexual service from a trafficked person and carries a potential penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine. In both cases, the person selling the sexual service will not be subject to an offence.
These proposals have been developed following extensive consultation, initiated by my Department, dating back to 2012 and which includes a recommendation from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence to introduce such an offence. I have met with representatives from both sides of the debate, including those working in the industry, and my Department has received numerous representations expressing views from both sides.
I am satisfied that it is necessary to take steps to tackle the trafficking and wider exploitation of persons through prostitution. Unlike the existing offences relating to prostitution such as soliciting, loitering or brothel keeping, the new offences will specifically target the demand for prostitution.
My Department will continue to provide help and assistance to victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation including those seeking to leave prostitution. In 2014, the Department of Justice and Equality allocated €172,000 to Ruhama, an NGO working with women in prostitution and those exiting prostitution, in order to support Ruhama's work in assisting women victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Support services to suspected victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, including those in prostitution, are provided by the Reception and Integration Agency, the Human Trafficking Team of the HSE, the Legal Aid Board and An Garda Síochána in relation to accommodation; medical care and planning; psychological assistance; material assistance; legal aid and advice; accessing the labour market and vocational training, personal security; translation and interpretation services; etc. The Women's Health Service of the HSE also provides medical and other support services to women in prostitution and exiting prostitution.
In terms of the specific question concerning the trafficking of persons for prostitution and sexual exploitation, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the existing legislative provisions addressing the trafficking of persons for the purposes of exploitation (including sexual exploitation) which can attract significant penalties. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 prohibits trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Any person found guilty of such an offence shall be liable to imprisonment for life or a lesser term, and at the discretion of the court, to a fine. It is also an offence for a person to solicit or importune a trafficked person for the purposes of prostitution with a potential penalty of imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine.
305. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No 115 of 2 October 2014, the number of complaints of petrol stretching the Gardaí in Mayo Divisions have received for each month from June 2014 to date in 2014; the position regarding these complaints; the number that have been investigated resulting in a person being charged or a file being forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. [45781/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will contact the Deputy again when the information is to hand.
306. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will review a stamp 4 application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45825/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the person in question was illegally present in the State from 12 September 2003 until the person concerned was granted permission on 15 October 2014, as a dependent family member of their spouse who was granted permission under the 2004 Student Probationary Extension scheme. This permission brings the person in line with their spouse's permission.
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 process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate of too long awaited.
307. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will abolish or reduce the fees and charges related to naturalisation; her views on the joint statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and NASC on 24 November 2014 on this matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45843/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The joint statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland and NASC of 24th November 2014 asserts that the naturalisation fees in the State are, or are among, the highest in the world. The cost of naturalisation is not easily comparable across jurisdictions as the range of fees, fee structures and concessions available are diverse. Some countries charge relatively small amounts during the naturalisation process but make acquiring the required residence to apply for naturalisation very costly. Some countries charge both local and federal naturalisation fees that can bring the cost to more than twice that in the State. Naturalisation costs in the UK are higher than those in the State and significantly higher for some categories of applicant. The headline accompanying the joint statement is therefore misleading as the cost to naturalise in the State is not the highest in the world nor is it anywhere close to being the highest. It is notable that the volume of applications for a certificate of naturalisation increased by over 50% in 2011, the year that the application fee was introduced, and increased further in 2012. In relation to encouraging democratic participation, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has been pro-active in this area and a leaflet informing new citizens of their right to register and vote in all elections in the State and how to register has been included in all ceremony packs since 20 May 2013.
The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 set out the prescribed fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation. An application fee of €175 is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a fee is payable by applicants on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil.
The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process. I might also add that following the grant of citizenship it is no longer necessary for the person concerned to register their presence in the State with the Garda National Immigration Bureau which requires the payment of a fee of €300 per registration.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): The Estimates of Public Expenditure for 2015 are not yet finalised.
309. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an updated report of the work of Office of the Promotion of Migrant Integration; the work which the office will undertake in 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45893/14]
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.
310. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will increase Garda patrols in local communities especially in Dublin 5 (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [45898/14]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, one of the primary functions of the Garda Commissioner under the Garda Síochána Acts, is to direct and control An Garda Síochána. In this regard, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of all resources, including fully sworn members and Reserve Gardaí, among the Garda Regions, Divisions and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of security assessments, crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources.
|Last Updated: 27/09/2016 15:02:12||Page of 84|