Shatter, Alan

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 736 No. 3

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Order of Business

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 19, Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2011 — Committee and Remaining Stages, be agreed to.”
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2011: Instruction to Committee

Question put.
Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 2011: Committee and Remaining Stages

Amendment put.
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Priority Questions

I appreciate we are starting a few minutes early. Somebody might phone Deputy Calleary and we could allow him a few minutes to get here. Everyone anticipated a 5 p.m. start. I do not want to cut hi...More Button

Priority Questions - Legal Aid Service

Was asked: the current delays to access a civil lawyer via the Legal Aid Centre; if he will consult with the Department of Social Protection on utilising the new internship scheme to assist the Legal Aid Board...More Button

The Legal Aid Board is committed to seeking to ensure that applicants for legal services receive a substantive appointment with a solicitor within a maximum period of four months. This is consistent ...More Button

I thank the Deputy for his questions; they are all important issues. The real problem is that at this time when an increasing number of people are using the civil legal aid system there are decreasin...More Button

The scheme formally starts on 1 July. Applications must be made through the Department of Social Protection. The scheme has substantial possibilities for providing some work experience for young peo...More Button

Priority Questions - Garda Deployment

Was asked: the progress made on the roll out of the civilianisation process within the Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The approximately 2,100 full-time equivalent civilian support staff in the Garda Síochána provide vital support services in a wide range of areas, such as human resources, training and development, IT...More Button

The Deputy referred to the recent recruitment embargo. The EU-IMF agreement, as concluded at the end of last year, provided for a reduction in Garda numbers from 14,500 to 13,000 by 2014. Indeed, th...More Button

The Government has stated — I will repeat it — that maintaining front line services is a priority. I cannot give commitments about particular Garda stations, as it is important that we retain open mi...More Button

Priority Questions - Magdalene Laundries

Was asked: the reason he did not opt to establish a full statutory inquiry into allegations of torture and degrading treatment of women committed to Magdalene laundries as recommended by the UN Committee Again...More Button

The UN Committee against Torture issued its concluding observations on Monday, 6 June, following Ireland’s first examination in Geneva last month under Article 19 of the UN Convention against Torture ...More Button

We are giving consideration to the person who should be appointed as chairperson of the group. It will be a person of stature, whose independence will not be open to question. I hope to be in a posi...More Button

I presume the wall of official indifference to which Professor Manning, as president of the Human Rights Commission, was referring was the indifference shown during the term of office of the previous ...More Button

The meetings with the groups will be private to give everyone an opportunity to discuss how we should proceed. We want to ensure records will be made available by the congregations and will be access...More Button

Priority Questions - Garda Complaints Procedures

Was asked: his views on the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s annual report 2010; his proposals on the back of its findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s annual report for 2010 was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas earlier this month and is available in the Oireachtas Library. The report gives useful de...More Button

The Garda Commissioner is reviewing the report. The breakdown of the incidents which gave rise to complaints is interesting. We must ensure people are treated courteously by members of the Garda Sío...More Button

That the overwhelming majority of people have great faith and trust in the Garda Síochána and the individual members of the force with whom they come into contact is very well set out in the results o...More Button

Other Questions - Criminal Investigations

Was asked: the position regarding the status of the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank; his views on the recent remarks by the Director of Public Prosecutions on the case and in view of the slow pace of the i...More Button

One of my top priorities is that allegations of white collar crime are fully investigated and the perpetrators of such crime are made amenable for their crimes. I am informed by the Garda authorities...More Button

It is interesting that I keep hearing the refrain that this is legislation that the former justice Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern had prepared. To be fair to him, he commenced the process as Minister ...More Button

Other Questions - Garda Operations

Was asked: if he will provide a cost for gardaí used during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of England. More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a cost for gardaí used during the visit of President Obama. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 and 17 together. The visits of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama required unprecedented security arrangements to be put in place by An Garda Síochána and the Defen...More Button

I thank Deputy Calleary for his comments; we have made similar comments in the past so it is appropriate to again acknowledge the extraordinary job the gardaí did in circumstances of some difficulty, ...More Button

That figure relates to Garda overtime and acquiring additional material necessary to facilitate the visit. The gardaí must have available to them the funding in the original Estimate in December to m...More Button

Other Questions - Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Was asked: the number of persons who have died whilst in Garda custody during 2010 and to date in 2011. More Button

A death in Garda custody is defined as a death which takes place in the period after a person comes into the custody and control of a member of the Garda Síochána and before they leave Garda custody a...More Button

The commission conducts its inquiries independently and I do not interfere with it. It is important that the commission takes the time it requires to investigate the deaths. I do not want to say any...More Button

Other Questions - Garda Deployment

Was asked: the extent to which the necessary personnel, general resources, communications, mobile equipment, intelligence and forensic facilities are available to the Garda Síochána to tackle the ongoing activ...More Button

Tackling serious and organised crime, and bringing those involved to justice, is a key priority for the Government. Implementation of specific operational measures to deal with criminal gangs and the...More Button

In recent weeks the Garda has had substantial success in recovering drugs and arresting individuals engaged in drug related activities. It is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to determine issues o...More Button

I have the greatest confidence in the Garda. It has available the resources it requires. I am taking an initiative at a European level with my European colleagues to try to put in place arrangements...More Button

I imagine the Ceann Comhairle will tell me if I am out of time on the next question.More Button

Other Questions - International Time Zones

Was asked: if he had any discussions with either his British counterpart or his European colleagues regarding the possibility of changing our time zone to European Time; his views on the benefits or disadvanta...More Button

Was asked: his plans to conduct a cross Departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour all year round for Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to the passage of a B...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 16 together. I am aware of the Bill to which the Deputy refers. The Daylight Saving Bill 2010/11 passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 3 Decembe...More Button

During summer time our clocks are set at GMT plus one hour and at GMT during winter time. Were clocks to be put forward for an hour for all of the year, clocks would be set at GMT — this is becoming ...More Button

I am finding it difficult to keep a straight face for this length of time on this question, considering the details I have been given. This is not an issue on which we will make an untimely response a...More Button

I very much appreciate that this is a serious issue in the context of certain areas of business and of doing business with Europe and the United Kingdom. In advance of the second reading of the Bill,...More Button

I will give some thought to Deputy Harrington’s interesting suggestion. It would be interesting to get the views of the general public on this issue. We might consider establishing a process within ...More Button

Other Questions - Prison Accommodation

Was asked: his views on the report by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly; his proposals on the back of its recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I assume the Deputy is referring to the 2010 annual report of the Inspector of Prisons which I published on 30 May 2011. In his report the inspector states the Irish Prison Service and local manageme...More Button

I agree with the Deputy. It is important that we provide a safe environment. I would like drug-free spaces to be allocated in every prison. I would like prisoners who are addicted to drugs to have ...More Button

Other Questions - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: his plans regarding reform of the bankruptcy laws here; when these will be implemented; the number of persons who are bankrupt that it will affect; and the way it will impact on creditors. More Button

In line with a commitment in the programme for Government, a personal insolvency Bill is being developed in the Department of Justice and Equality. The Bill will provide for a new framework for the s...More Button

I hope the Bill will be published within the next 24 hours. It will address not just bankruptcy issues but other issues also. There is some realistic possibility that it will be enacted before the s...More Button

Other Questions - Court Procedures

Was asked: the sections of the Fines Act 2010 which remain to be implemented; the progress in relation to implementation of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if he will provide an update on the progress made to update the court IT system to facilitate the payments of fines in instalments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 29 together. All of the Fines Act 2010 has been implemented except for two sections. Section 15 will, when introduced, provide an option for the payment of fine...More Button

An unfortunate difficulty with this legislation, which, in fairness, was enacted by the previous Government and had support from the Opposition side of the House at the time, is that no arrangements w...More Button

In the context of current Government procedures, we are supposed to do a cost analysis. My Department did not have available the information, when I last asked, as to what the costing of this will be...More Button

Other Questions - Citizenship Applications

Was asked: the reason the application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) was not granted in view of the fact that both their spouse and children have been granted a certificate of nat...More Button

All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually under the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. Section 15 of the Act ...More Button

Written Answers - Legal Aid Service

Was asked: the total budget of the Legal Aid Board in 2010; the costs of each individual centre in the country and the amount of money paid by the body to private practitioners during 2010. More Button

I can inform the Deputy that the Legal Aid Board is the statutory body which provides legal aid and advice in civil law matters. It also provides legal services to asylum seekers through the Refugee ...More Button

Written Answers - Immigration Services

Was asked: his plans to reform the immigration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Government’s plans for the immigration system are outlined in the programme for Government which commits to the introduction of comprehensive reforms to the immigration, residence and asylum syste...More Button

Written Answers - Public Sector Staff

Was asked: the current salary scales of the various grades of judges. More Button

I would refer the Deputy to my response to his Parliamentary Question No. 294 on Tuesday 21st June 2011. The pay scales currently applicable to the judiciary are as follows:More Button

Written Answers - Crime Levels

Was asked: the extent to which the number of criminal gangs known to be actively involved, directly or indirectly in drug importation, distribution, money laundering, racketeering or protection have increased o...More Button

The Deputy will appreciate that organised crime, by its nature, is constantly evolving and diversifying in both its structures and its activities, so as to exploit opportunities for criminal gain. G...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff

Was asked: the number of persons over the past ten years employed by him, who did not undergo the required one year probation and appropriate screening procedures for their posts; the number that were promoted;...More Button

I am advised by my officials that they are not aware of any staff serving in my Department who fall (or fell) within the scope of the question. In accordance with the governing legislation and arrang...More Button

Written Answers - Firearms Licences

Was asked: with particular reference to the report of the Garda Commissioner on the operation of the new firearms licensing system which has already been laid before Dáil Éireann, if he will confirm the precise ...More Button

As it has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in the time available, I have asked the Garda Commissioner for a report on the matter and will write to the Deputy when i...More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: if he will provide an update on his proposals to fast-track personal bankruptcy reform particularly in relation to introducing a flexible discharge period for those termed as honest bankrupts; and if...More Button

In line with a commitment in the Programme for Government a Personal Insolvency Bill is in the course of being developed in my Department to provide for a new framework for settlement and enforcement ...More Button

Was asked: his response to the views expressed on the cost of the referendum on judicial pay versus the anticipated savings of the proposed reductions in judicial pay. More Button

On foot of a commitment in the Programme for Government, the Government last week accepted my proposal to hold a referendum on judicial pay. The referendum will coincide with the upcoming Presidentia...More Button

Written Answers - Ministerial Appointments

Was asked: the contacts he had with the prescribed persons or organisations prior to the appointment of a person (details supplied) as confidential recipient and if he informed these organisations of this perso...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, on 14 June 2011, I appointed Mr. Oliver J. Connolly, Barrister-at-Law, to the position of Confidential Recipient under Regulation 6 of the Garda Síochána (Confidential Reportin...More Button

Written Answers - Immigration Services

Was asked: his plans to review the policy of direct provision. More Button

Was asked: his plans to reduce the number of direct provision centres around the country. More Button

Was asked: the changes he will make to the direct provision system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 36 and 44 together. The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers while their protection applica...More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: his plans to enact legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Preliminary work is underway in my Department on the preparation of a Criminal Justice (Victims’ Rights) Bill which will strengthen the rights of victims of crime. I expect that a general scheme of th...More Button

Written Answers - Immigration Services

Was asked: if he will review the State’s asylum system in view of the criticism from the United Nations Committee Against Torture. More Button

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) issued its concluding observations on 6 June following Ireland’s first examination in Geneva last month under Article 19 of the UN Convention agai...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Strength

Was asked: the European average for police to population across the European Union; the Irish equivalent of same; the minimum number of gardaí deemed necessary; if the Commissioner provided information on pendi...More Button

There is no mathematical formula for determining the optimum strength of the Garda Síochána, or indeed any police force. Instead, it is a matter of Government policy, taking into account all the rele...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: if he will report on the total costs to the State of the visits of Queen Elizabeth II of England and the President of the USA. More Button

In respect of the costs arising for An Garda Síochána, I would refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 2 and 12 of today’s date.More Button

Written Answers - Garda Equipment

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 258 of 6 October 2011, the progress made in relation to the roll-out of sound level meters to the Garda Síochána nationally; the number of meters purchased and n...More Button

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following a procurement process conducted last year in accordance with EU and national procurement procedures, twenty-nine class 1 sound level meters were ...More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: his plans to update the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau to pursue white collar criminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government includes a commitment to strengthen the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in relation to the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime. An Exper...More Button

Written Answers - Court Procedures

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the recent criminal case in the UK that collapsed due to a juror using a social media outlet and his plans to ensure this does not occur in this jurisdiction. More Button

I am aware of the case to which the Deputy refers. In the normal course of a trial a judge charges the jury, as he or she considers appropriate, as to its behaviour during the course of the trial and...More Button

Written Answers - Criminal Prosecutions

Was asked: the number of prosecutions to date under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act regarding juror or witness intimidation. More Button

Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 makes it an offence to harm or threaten or in any other way intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by An Garda Síoch...More Button

Written Answers - National Disability Strategy

Was asked: his plans for the implementation of the national disability strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The National Disability Strategy was launched in September 2004 and its implementation continues to be the focus of Government policy. Key elements include the Disability Act 2005, the Education for P...More Button

Written Answers - Legal Profession

Was asked: the plans he has to reform the public complaints system for the legal profession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Under the Programme for National Recovery 2011-2016, the Government undertakes to “establish independent regulation of the legal profession to improve access and competition, make legal costs more tra...More Button

Written Answers - Compensation Payments

Was asked: if compensation will be paid to former residents of the Magdalene laundries as called for by the UN, the Irish Human Rights Commission and groups representing the former residents. More Button

In the context of the Magdalene laundries, the report of the Irish Human Rights Commission recommended that if, after investigation, State involvement/responsibility is established, the question of re...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Strength

Was asked: the fact that there are in the region of 20 Garda superintendent positions vacant in the State, including a vacancy in the Tramore Garda district, Waterford, his plans to fill these positions; and if...More Button

The allocation of resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his senior management team. The strength of An Garda Síochána and the allocation of those resources is cont...More Button

Written Answers - Human Rights Issues

Was asked: his views on the criticisms from the Irish Human Rights Commission that the human rights of prisoners, asylum seekers and former Magdalene women are being breached by the State. More Button

As the Deputy is aware, Ireland had its first examination under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on the 22nd an...More Button

Written Answers - Neighbourhood Watch

Was asked: the announcement of the Garda recruitment moratorium for 2011 and 2012, if he will consider a media and press promotion of the neighbourhood watch system to promote greater awareness by communities o...More Button

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as the current Strategy and Implementation Plan for Neighbourhood Watch, covering the period 2007-2011, is in its final year of operation, it is now being r...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Strength

Was asked: the positions the Garda Commissioner sought to fill or promote, by Garda division in 2011; the positions that have been filled, by division; which positions have been refused by divisions; and if he ...More Button

I recently received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for the filling of six Garda posts and on 22nd March the Government appointed one Deputy Commissioner, one Assistant Co...More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation

Was asked: the steps he will take to reduce the costs of rents for struggling businesses in order to help restore economic competitiveness. More Button

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government indicates that legislation will be introduced to end upward only rent reviews for existing leases. I am engaged in on-going consultations w...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Committees

Was asked: if an inquiry into the detention and abuse of women at Magdalene laundries will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As I have already indicated, the Government decided on a number of actions following its meeting last week which considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundr...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Appointments

Was asked: his plans to reform the appointments procedure to the board of the Equality Authority, the present board being scheduled to complete their term this summer in order that there is an open and transpar...More Button

I refer the Deputy to my reply below to Parliamentary Question No. 15984 of 16 June 2011. The position is unchanged since then. The Government has decided that new arrangements will be put in place f...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Vetting of Personnel

Was asked: the position regarding the vetting system for those working with children (details supplied); the reason that this process is taking so long; and his plans to improve the system. More Button

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides a centralised vetting service for all registered organisations nationwide. The organisation to which the Deputy refers is registered with the GCVU for em...More Button

Written Answers - Missing Persons

Was asked: his plans to introduce the 116000 European hotline for missing children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am informed that the telephone number to which the Deputy refers has been reserved by the European Commission as a common missing children telephone hotline for the entire EU. It is made available ...More Button

Written Answers - Gaming Licences

Was asked: his plans to grant a gaming licence to the consortium which has received planning permission for a casino in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am not aware that an application has been made for a gaming licence in respect of the development to which the Deputy refers. However, should an application be made, it will be assessed in accordanc...More Button

Written Answers - Citizenship Applications

Was asked: the position regarding an application for citizenship in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Valid applications for a certificate of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy’s Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2008. The applicatio...More Button

Written Answers - Prison Accommodation

Was asked: the number of cells in each institution here; the number that accommodate two, three, four or more prisoners; and the current levels of overcrowding within each prison with reference to the safe leve...More Button

Was asked: the total number of prison spaces currently available at each location throughout the country; the number of prisoners per cell at each location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 132 together. The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tables. Table 1 sets out the total number of cells in each institution and is...More Button

Written Answers - Organised Crime

Was asked: the total number of cases in respect of which proceedings are currently under way against criminal gangs or members thereof; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the number of known members of criminal gangs currently active throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the number of prosecutions taken against members of criminal gangs in each of the past four years to date in 2011; the number that were successful; the number that were unsuccessful; the number pendi...More Button

Was asked: the number of persons or gangs currently deemed to be involved in drug or people trafficking; the extent to which action has been taken such as prosecution and sentence in each of the past five years...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 to 131, inclusive, and 135 together. I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction....More Button

Written Answers - Prison Education Service

Was asked: the extent to which rehabilitative, educational, psychological or other training is available for prisoners at all locations throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the extent to which short-term prisoners serving sentences for minor crimes are able to access rehabilitative training and support while in prison; the extent to which such services remain available ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together. I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing pris...More Button

Written Answers - Crime Levels

Was asked: the number of persons charged with anti-social behaviour in each Garda division and subdivision throughout the country in each of the past five years to date in 2011; the nature or extent of the pena...More Button

Was asked: the total number of incidents of alleged anti-social behaviour lodged at each Garda station throughout the country in each of the past five years to date in 2011; the extent to which prosecution took...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together. Following the submission in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, it was decided that the compilation and ...More Button

Written Answers - Courts Service

Was asked: the extent, if any, to which changes are required to address any backlog in the courts system; if there are particular areas identified as being in need of specific attention in this regard; and if h...More Button

The management and administration of the courts, as the Deputy will be aware, is a matter for the Courts Service. The allocation of the business of the courts, scheduling of court cases and the manag...More Button

Written Answers - Residency Permits

Was asked: if he will expedite an application for long-term residency in the case of a person (details supplied ) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I can confirm that the person concern has submitted an application for Long Term Residency. This application is one of a number of applications which are awaiting a decision at present. However, I can...More Button

Written Answers - Visa Applications

Was asked: the position regarding an application of a person (details supplied) to come to their family in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Based on the information supplied by the Deputy, I am informed by officials in my Department that they can find no record of a current visa application for the person referred to. When completing an o...More Button

Written Answers - Garda Recruitment

Was asked: when he expects Garda training to recommence for recruits at Templemore training college, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

As the moratorium on Public Service Recruitment continues to apply to An Garda Síochána, no date has been fixed for future intakes into the Garda College or for the commencement of a recruitment compe...More Button

Written Answers - Army Barracks

Was asked: his future plans for retaining the Army presence in Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Various commissions, reports and studies back to the 1990s identified barrack closure as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. The dispersal of Defence For...More Button

Written Answers - Defence Forces Recruitment

Was asked: his plans for recruitment into the various sections of the Defence Forces in 2011 and 2012; and if recruitment will be sought when applications will be accepted. More Button

Recruitment to the Permanent Defence Force was suspended in late 2008 pending a review of the best means by which to achieve the reduction of 3% in payroll costs that had been applied, in common with ...More Button


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