A Message from Minister Alan Shatter
“My ambition is that, at the end of the Government’s term in office, we will be seen as the most radical reformist government in the history of the State. I am determined in my privileged role as Minister in two great Departments – Justice and Equality and the Department of Defence – to fully play my part. Being a member of a Cabinet composed of talented colleagues who are committed to public service, to restoring our economic sovereignty and getting our people back to work is truly a privilege. That is the difference between our Government led by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny and the Fianna Fail led governments of yesteryear. Since I was appointed Minister on the 9 March 2011, I have enacted 14 separate pieces of legislation, an additional 3 Bills are presently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas and a further 5 are at advanced stages of drafting. In addition, I have prioritised reform across a number of areas to improve efficiency, reduced costs and protect the frontline. I hope that this document serves as a useful resource as well as providing an insight into the work done during the past 24 months.”
Alan Shatter TD
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence
First Two Years of Government
March 2011 – March 2013
1. Personal Insolvency Act 2012
2. National Vetting Bureau Act (Children & Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012
3. Criminal Justice Act 2011
4. Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011
5. Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011
6. Criminal Justice (Search Warrants) Act 2012
7. European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Act 2012
8. Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgements (Amendment) Act 2012
9. Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act 2012
10. Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011
11. Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011
12. Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Act 2011
13. Defence (Amendment) Act 2011
14. Civil Defence Board Act 2012
Legislation in progress through the Houses of the Oireachtas:
15. Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011
16. Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012
17. Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012
Draft Legislation Published:
18. Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill 2012
19. Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2012
20. Criminal Records Information System Bill 2012
21. Mediation Bill 2012
22. Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2012
Legislation at an advanced stage of drafting:
23. Gambling Bill
24. Landlord and Tenant Law Reform Bill
25. Family Relationships and Children Bill
Matters considered or under consideration for legislation:
26. Future Direction of the Legislation on Prostitution
27. Cash for Gold
28. Family Leave Bill
29. Surrogacy Guidelines
30. Upward Only Rent Reviews
31. Referendum on Article 34 of Constitution
32. Cork Prison
33. Limerick Prison
34. Mountjoy Prison
35. Midlands Prison
36. Dochas Centre
37. Thornton Hall Prison Project Review Committee
38. Visits to Prisons by the Minister
39. Prison Reform
40. Prison Governance Structures
41. Prison Deaths
Citizenship and Immigration:
42. Progress on clearing of backlog of applications for citizenship and new Citizenship Ceremony
43. Streamlined Immigration Procedures
44. Civilian Staff Dublin Airport
45. Investor and Entrepreneur (Jobs) Programmes
46. Visa Waiver Programme
47. Zambrano Judgement
An Garda Siochana / Policing / Crime:
48. Consolidation and Closure of Garda Stations
49. Garda Numbers, Retirements & Promotions
50. Garda Rostering
51. Garda Vetting
52. 6th European Gay Police Association Conference
53. Graduation Ceremonies
54. North-South meetings
55. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding to support cooperation between forensic science agencies on the island of Ireland
56. Meeting with relatives of the disappeared
57. Omagh Support and Self-help Group
Capital Spending / Financial / Savings
58. An Garda Siochana
59. Capital Announcement
60. Ministerial Transport
61. Reduction in fees payable under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme
Civil Partnership/Gay Marriage
62. Recognition of Foreign Civil Partnerships and Gay Marriages
63. Magdalen Laundries
64. Cloyne Report
65. State Visits
66. EU Councils
67. EU Presidency
68. Data Protection
69. Victims of Crime
70. Confiscation of Criminal Assets
71. Insolvency Proposals
72. Appointments Advertised
73. Defence Forces Numbers and Promotions
74. Re-Organisation of the Defence Forces
75. Barrack Closures, Increasing Efficiency and Re-Organisation
76. Defence Forces Participation in Missions Abroad
77. The White Paper on Defence
78. Visits to Lebanon
79. Callanan Report
80. Implementation of the Defence Forces Medical Services Review
81. Private Paddy Kelly Posthumous Award
82. Visits to Military Facilities
83. Irish and Finnish Perspectives on European Security and Defence Policy
84. Memorandum of Understanding – Ireland’s Participation in the Austro/German Battlegroup 2012
85. European Defence Agency (EDA) Projects
86. Opportunities in the European Security and Defence Markets
87. Irish Red Cross
88. Cavalry Corp Day 3rd September 2011
89. Ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the death of Trooper Patrick Mullins in the Congo
90. Recruitment Age for Permanent Defence Forces
91. Winter Ready Campaign 2011 and 2012
1. The Personal Insolvency Act 2012 completed its passage though the Houses of the Oireachtas in December 2012. The Act represents the most comprehensive reform of the insolvency and bankruptcy law since the foundation of the State and is a fundamental part of the Government’s strategy to return this country to stability and economic growth. The Act introduces three new judicial debt settlement systems for unsustainable secured and unsecured debt. These include a:
1) Debt Relief Notice will allow for the write-off of qualifying unsecured debt up to €20,000, subject to a three year supervision period.
2) Debt Settlement Arrangement provides for the agreed settlement of unsecured debt, with no limit involved, normally over five years.
3) Personal Insolvency Arrangement will enable the agreed settlement of secured debt up to €3 million, although this cap may be increased with the consent of all secured creditors, and unsecured debt without limit, normally over six years.
The Act continues the reform of the Bankruptcy Act 1988 which Minister Shatter began in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. The critical new provision is the introduction of automatic discharge from bankruptcy after three years, subject to certain conditions, rather than the current 12 year arrangement.
The Director-designate of the Insolvency Service of Ireland, Mr Lorcan O’Connor, commenced in his role at the end of October 2012.
The Personal Insolvency Service is working towards a launch date in Quarter 1 of 2013 that will include the opening of an office and website, the launch of an information campaign and the issuing of publications and relevant guidelines.
Intensive efforts are also underway to design and implement the regulatory and IT frameworks required to be in place prior to the Service accepting applications for the new debt solutions. These should be in place during Quarter 2 of 2013.
2. The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 completed its passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas in December 2012. The Act makes it mandatory for persons working with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted. The Act also provides for the use of “soft” information in regard to vetting. This is information other than criminal convictions where such information leads to a bona-fide belief that a person poses a threat to children or vulnerable persons. The Garda Central Vetting Unit will become the National Vetting Bureau under the provisions of this Act and will have a substantially expanded role under new legislation. In January 2013, sanction was obtained for 25 staff to be redeployed to the Garda Central Vetting Unit.
This Act forms part of suite of legislation prioritised by this Government to enhance the protection of children, including the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults Act) 2012 and the Children First Bill 2012 which is being progressed by Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
3. The Criminal Justice Act 2011 implements crucial reform to facilitate Garda access to essential information, documentation and electronically held information to assist in the investigation of white collar crime. The Act renders it a criminal offence to fail to furnish to the Gardaí information which could prevent the commission of white collar crime or to assist the Gardaí in an investigation into white collar crime. It also introduces important new measures to protect whistleblowers. The Act provides vital assistance to the Gardaí in the completion of investigations which are current as well as providing assistance to them in investigations undertaken in the future. The Act was first successfully invoked in court proceedings in September 2011. The Act fulfils one of the reforms promised in the Programme for Government.
4. The Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 clarifies the law concerning the use of force by a householder when under attack by an intruder in their home. It recognises the special constitutional status of an individual’s family home and makes it clear that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves in their home:
1) It provides that a person who uses such reasonable force cannot be successfully prosecuted by the State or sued by a burglar in respect of any injury, loss or damage arising from it;
2) It explicitly provides that a person attacked in the home is not required to retreat;
3) It extends the right to use such reasonable force to the curtilage of the dwelling and
4) It acknowledges that in circumstances where it is reasonable to do so, the force used may, unfortunately result in death.
5. The Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011 imposes an obligation on the courts when considering imposing a sentence of 12 months or less on a convicted offender to first consider requiring the offender to undertake community service. This fulfils a key Programme for Government commitment which states that “We will ensure that violent offenders and other serious offenders serve appropriate prison sentences while at the same time switching away from prison sentences and towards less costly non-custodial options for non-violent and less serious offenders. This will result in a reduction in the prison population and alleviate overcrowding.” The measure has brought about a greater use of Community Service Orders to the benefit of local communities and to save taxpayers’ money in the context of the cost incurred when convicted offenders serve short terms of imprisonment. It has also partially addressed the current problem of prison overcrowding and the granting of unconditional temporary release to prisoners prior to their becoming eligible for release on remission.
6. The Criminal Justice (Search Warrants) Act 2012 was passed by the Oireachtas in July 2012. This Act addresses the implications of the Supreme Court judgment in Ali Charaf Damache v The Director of Prosecutions, Ireland and the Attorney General delivered on 23 February 2012. The Court found section 29(1) of the Offences against the State Act 1939 to be unconstitutional. Under the new Act, the impugned section is replaced with a provision that: increases the availability of judges empowered to issue search warrants under the 1939 Act; and permits a senior member of the Garda Síochána who is independent of the investigation concerned to issue a warrant in urgent circumstances which render an application to a District Court judge impracticable.
7. In July 2012 the European Arrest Warrant (Application to Third Countries and Amendment) and Extradition (Amendment) Act 2012 completed its passage through the Oireachtas. It’s purpose is to provide a mechanism to enable Ireland to give effect in Irish law to Surrender Agreements entered into by the European Union with countries other than Member States of the Union. The Act provides that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, following consultation with the Minister for Justice and Equality, may by order apply all or any of the provisions of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, which would otherwise apply only to Member States, to a third country where there is an EU Agreement on surrender with that country.
This will enable Ireland to give effect, in Irish law, to the Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on surrender. It will also enable the terms of the European Arrest Warrant Act to be applied to any other countries with which the EU may have surrender agreements in the future, without the need for further primary legislation.
8. The Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments (Amendment) Act 2012 was enacted in March 2012. It’s objective is to implement the Convention on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters signed at Lugano on 30 October 2007. It also specifically applies to orders made in family cases. The 2007 Lugano Convention is to ensure that the same regime will apply for the recognition and enforcement of judgments moving between Switzerland, Norway and Iceland and the EU as the regime which at present prevails within the European Union for judgments coming from the Member States. The 2007 Convention was concluded by the European Community in May 2009 and has since been ratified by all of the relevant EFTA countries.
9. The Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act 2012 was passed by the Oireachtas in July 2012. The Act creates an offence of withholding information on serious offences where those offences are committed against a child or a vulnerable adult. Serious offences are offences which carry a penalty of imprisonment for 5 years or more. They include most sexual offences and offences such as assault causing harm, abduction, manslaughter or murder.
The Act replicates a similar offence which exists in Irish law under the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998. However, that Act specifically excludes sexual offences from those offences for which there is an obligation to disclose information. This Act addresses this gap, insofar as it applies to children and vulnerable persons, by expressly including sexual offences in the list of serious offences for which it will be an offence to withhold information.
This Act fulfils one of the legislative commitments made by this Government to strengthen child protection. The Act will complement both the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2013 and the Children First Bill.
10. The Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, enacted in December 2011, delivered a key Programme for Government. The primary purpose of the Act is to set and enforce standards in the provision of property services by auctioneers, letting agents and property management, to improve the quality of information available on the Irish housing market and to provide redress mechanisms for consumers of those services. Minister Shatter formally established the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) in April 2012 and appointed a Chairperson and ten ordinary members to the Authority. The Authority has statutory responsibility for the publication of residential property sales prices and the establishment and maintenance of a Commercial Leases Database.
Residential Property Price Register: The PSRA published the Residential Property Price Register on the 30 September 2012. The purpose of the Register is to improve the quality of information available on the Irish housing market by requiring that the selling price of all dwellings is recorded in a publicly available, national housing price database. The Property Price Register is of substantial assistance in helping people make decisions in relation to one of the most important purchases of their lives.
On 30 May 2012, Minister Shatter sought expressions of interest from suitably-qualified persons for membership of the Property Services Appeal Board. Members of the Appeal Board were appointed by the Government on the 24 July 2012.
11. The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 implements important reforms across a diverse range of legal areas addressed in over 40 current Acts of the Oireachtas. The reforms apply to the following areas: bankruptcy law; domestic violence; enforcement of District Court Maintenance Orders; the provision of legal aid to victims of human trafficking; provision for civil partners to receive equal treatment to married couples with regard to citizenship matters; express statutory provision for citizenship ceremonies and new citizenship oath; reform of the legal provisions applicable to the appointment of Taxing Masters of the High Court; new arrangements for the protection of documentation furnished to and held by tribunals of inquiry; provision to bring the Family Mediation Service under the aegis of the Legal Aid Board and provision to facilitate the speedy electronic publication of Acts of the Oireachtas on the web immediately upon completion of the legislative process.
12. The Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Act 2011 enabled the Houses of the Oireachtas apply to the judiciary the same pension levy and salary reductions that have applied to related pay scales across the public service. The wording for the required constitutional amendment was developed by Minister Shatter in consultation with the Attorney General and approved by the Government on 26 July 2011. The Referendum was passed on the 27 October 2011 with a substantial 79.74% of voters voting in support of the Government amendment. To date, this is only referendum led by the Department of Justice and Equality, since the formation of the Government in March 2011.
13. The Defence (Amendment) Act 2011 provides for amendments to the Defence Acts to expand the potential candidature for appointment to the post of Military Judge and the Director of Military Prosecutions to persons other than members of the Defence Forces and for an amendment to the powers of the Selection Committee to determine a candidate’s qualification for appointment to these posts. In relation to the alternative judge, it also provides for the appointment of a Circuit Court Judge to perform the functions of the Military Judge where the Military Judge is not available for whatever reason. Following a public competition for the post of Military Judge, the Government on 3 July 2012 approved the appointment of Mr. Michael Campion as military judge for the Defence Forces. Mr. Campion was appointed as a Colonel in the Permanent Defence Force and sworn in as a military judge on the in September 2012.
14. The Civil Defence Board Act 2012: On 12 July 2011 Minister Shatter secured Government approval to dissolve the Civil Defence Board and transfer its functions, property, rights, liabilities and other responsibilities back to the Department of Defence.
The transfer of functions results in verifiable savings and allows management to develop the provision of training support, which is a key demand in a voluntary organisation like Civil Defence rather than duplicating the corporate governance of the Department.
Legislation in progress through the Houses of the Oireachtas:
15. The Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 was published by Minister Shatter in October 2011. The Bill meets a key commitment in Programme for Government and in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. The Bill is currently awaiting Committee Stage which is expected to progress in the first half of 2013. There are four key elements of reform at the core of the Bill:
1) provide for independent regulation of the legal profession through the establishment of Legal Service Regulation Authority
2) provide for an independent complaints system to deal with public complaints including those relating to professional misconduct.
3) promote transparency in relation to legal costs through the establishment of an Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator;
4) allow greater competition and reduce costs by legislating for Alternative Business Models that already exist in England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Germany, Netherlands and Canada.
On the 6 July 2012, Minister Shatter hosted a Conference on “Regulatory Reform for a 21st-Century Legal Profession”. The Conference provided an opportunity for lawyers, consumers and other stakeholders to share, first hand, international experience in implementing the modernisation and reform of legal services in other common law countries and to share some of the lessons that have been learned along the way. This Conference fed into the ongoing consideration of the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 which is set to modernise the provision of legal services in the State and to bring greater transparency to the way legal costs are determined and charged to consumers.
16. On 4 May 2012, Minister Shatter announced the publication of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012 which provides for certain convictions to become spent after a number of years conviction-free have elapsed so that people are assisted in returning to the workplace. The length of time that a person must remain conviction-free ranges from 3 - 7 years depending on the sentence originally imposed by the courts. Custodial sentences of 1 year or less as well as a range of non custodial sentences are covered by the Bill. The Bill completed Second Stage in the Seanad on 13 June 2012 and is currently awaiting Committee Stage.
17. In December 2012 Minister Shatter published the Defence Forces (Second World War Amnesty and Immunity) Bill 2012. It has completed its progress through the Seanad and is expected to be enacted before Easter.
On 12 June 2012, following a request from the Minister Shatter, the Government agreed to issue an apology to those members of the Defence Forces who fought on the Allied side during World War II and were subsequently found guilty of desertion or being absent without leave by a military tribunal or were dismissed from the Defence Forces in accordance with the provisions of the Emergency Powers (No. 362) Order, 1945 (Statutory Rules and Orders No. 198 of 1945).
Draft Legislation Published:
18. On 5 June 2012, the Minister for Justice published the General Scheme of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill 2012. This followed a decision made in October 2011 whereby the Government agreed in principle to merge the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority into an enhanced Human Rights and Equality Commission. The purpose of this change is to promote human rights and equality issues in a more effective, efficient and cohesive way. The objective of this body will be to champion human rights, including the right to equality. It will play a key role in:
· encouraging State authorities to put respect for human rights and equality at the heart of their policies and practices;
· monitoring compliance with international and constitutional human rights standards;
· helping people to understand what their rights are and how to protect them;
· promoting political debate on human-rights and equality issues, in particular by providing consultative opinions on proposed legislation;
· appearing before the superior courts as amicus curiae ('friend of the court') to assist the courts with the interpretation of human rights standards;
· investigating human rights and equality concerns, and
· publishing and promoting research and reports on human rights and equality issues.
The General Scheme provides for an independent selection process to nominate people for appointment to the new Commission, and appointment by the President following passing of a resolution by both Houses of the Oireachtas. In July 2012, Minister Shatter announced details of the membership of the Selection Panel to select members of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. The Selection Panel will select the persons to be recommended to the Oireachtas and the President for appointment. It is expected that the relevant appointments will be made shortly.
19. On 19 June 2012 the Government approved the general scheme of the Criminal Justice (Corruption) Bill 2012. This Bill, when enacted, will clarify and strengthen the law criminalising corruption. It will replace seven overlapping corruption Acts stretching back to Victorian times. Specifically, the Bill will replace and update existing offences relating to giving or receiving bribes. It will also introduce new offences in relation to corrupt influence peddling. Stiff penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and unlimited fines are envisaged for persons convicted on indictment. In addition the Scheme provides for the Courts to be given new powers to remove public officials from office and to exclude them from holding office for up to 10 years.
20. On 17 April 2012, Minister Shatter published the General Scheme of the Criminal Records Information System Bill 2012. The Bill will codify the procedures to apply in relation to the exchange of criminal records data with other states. The Bill also creates a specific obligation on the Gardaí to inform other states when citizens of those states are convicted of criminal offences in Irish courts. Equivalent obligations are currently being legislated for in all EU Member States in accordance with the provisions of an EU Framework Decision. The Bill will provide for the Garda Commissioner to act as a central authority with responsibility for maintaining a national criminal records register which will include centralised records of both domestic and foreign criminal convictions.
21. On 1 March 2012, Minister Shatter published the General Scheme of the Mediation Bill 2012. The objective of the Bill is to promote mediation as an alternative to court proceedings to reduce legal costs, speed up the resolution of disputes and relieve the stress involved in court proceedings. Minister Shatter is anxious to ensure that individuals involved in disputes regard mediation as preferable to court litigation. The draft Bill was forwarded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Justice, Defence and Equality for their consideration. The Report of the Committee on the Bill was published on the 21 June 2012.
22. On 6 June 2012, Minister Shatter announced Government approval of the Heads of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Bill 2012. The Bill will refine the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 in light of the experience of its operation since it’s enactment. The Bill is aimed at enhancing Ireland’s compliance with Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) standards following its evaluation of the 2010 Act. The publication of the General Scheme of the Bill is to enable consultation with relevant sectors on the proposed changes prior to the detailed drafting of the Bill.
Legislation at an advanced stage of drafting:
23. Gambling Bill: On the 21 September 2011, Minister Shatter announced that the Government has agreed to his proposal to start work immediately on new legislation to modernise our laws on gambling. Minister Shatter stated that the new legislation would update the current law and would, for the first time, regulate on-line gambling and would provide for the operation of modest sized casinos. The number of casinos will be limited and every application will be subjected to vigorous checks, including deep and extensive checks on the promoters. Minister Shatter expects to bring the General Scheme to Government shortly for its approval and to proceed to have the Bill drafted.
24. Landlord and Tenant Law: There has been a consultative process on a draft Bill in relation to a much needed and long overdue overhaul and consolidation of landlord and tenant law. Submissions were invited, by the 31st May 2011, from interested parties. The Government subsequently approved drafting of the Bill.
25. A Family Relationships and Children Bill is under preparation to consolidate and reform the law relating to the jurisdiction, custody of and access to children and to address issues of parentage that arise following the birth of a child through the use of assisted reproduction or surrogacy.
Matters considered or under consideration for legislation
26. Future Direction of Legislation on Prostitution: In June 2012, Minister Shatter published a discussion document on the future direction of legislation on prostitution. The purpose of the discussion document is to facilitate a public consultation process. The document sets out four broad approaches to legislative policy on prostitution, for discussion. On its publication, the discussion document was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. The Joint Committee is conducting the consultation process and will report back when it has completed its work.
In addition, the Department of Justice hosted a conference in October 2012 to discuss the consultation paper. The conference brought together speakers and an audience from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds; including: Detective Inspector Simon Haggstrom from the Prostitution Unit of the Stockholm Police Force and Mr Jack Verbruggen from the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice.
The report of the Joint Committee and the views expressed at the conference will be fully considered in the framing of any necessary legislative proposals to be submitted to Government in due course.
27. Cash for Gold: On19 June 2012 Minister Shatter published a Report on the Cash for Gold Trade which examines cash for gold transactions having regard to relevant criminal justice considerations. The Report helps crystallise the key issues that have arisen around the cash for gold phenomenon. The Minister has formally requested the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality; to consider the content of the Report; to consider holding hearings on the issues raised in this report and to obtain the views of all relevant interested parties. It is further proposed that thereafter it will make Report and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to Government as it deems proportionate and appropriate in the public interest. The Committee has commenced the public consultation with a view to preparing a report for publication in 2013.
28. The Government approved the drafting of the Family Leave Bill in December 2012. This Bill will transpose the EU Parental Leave Directive and will also consolidate all family leave legislation into one accessible Act. The Bill will provide for an additional 4 weeks Parental Leave per parent per child and will also consolidate all the family leave legislation (maternity, parental, adoptive and carer’s leave) into one Bill. Responsibility for Carer’s Leave is being transferred from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to the Department of Justice and Equality in the context of this statute law consolidation exercise.
29. Surrogacy Guidelines: On 21 February 2012, Minister Shatter published a Guidance Document on citizenship, parentage, guardianship and travel document issues in relation to children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements entered into outside the State. The Guidance Document provides information to people who intend to enter surrogacy arrangements outside the State on the practical and legal considerations arising under Irish law where the commissioning parents intend to bring the child to live with them in the State. See also Family Relationships and Children Bill
30. Upward Only Rent Reviews
As reported in 2012, legislative intervention in the area of upward-only rent reviews was not possible due to constitutional difficulties. However, arrangements were made to ensure NAMA proactively works to facilitate rent easement in cases where it has acquired the loan on a commercial property, where a tenant demonstrates that the rent payable under a lease is in excess of current market levels and that the viability of a business is threatened as a consequence. By the end of 2012, the Agency had granted 212 applications for rent abatement, with an aggregate annual value of €13.5 million.
31. Referendum on Article 34 of Constitution: On 17 July 2012, Minister Shatter announced that the Government had approved, in principle, proposals for an amendment to the Constitution (subject to a referendum of the people) to permit the establishment of additional superior courts including the establishment of a Court of Appeal and a new separate Family Court structure. Work has commenced on the further development of these proposals and the necessary referendum is expected to be held in the Autumn of 2013.
The Government also agreed that further consideration should be given to the possibility of introducing other constitutional changes to Article 26 dealing with the reference of a Bill by the President to the Supreme Court. Consideration will also be given to adding a secular oath as an optional alternative to the current form of judicial declaration contained in Article 34.5.
32. Cork Prison: On 29 February 2012 Minister Shatter announced that consideration is being given to the construction of a new prison in Cork as part of an overall strategy to reduce overcrowding. It will be built on a site immediately adjacent to the existing prison and will house 275 prisoners and have a maximum capacity of 310 prisoners. Planning and design are at an advanced stage and it is expected that, subject to planning permission, the project will go to tender during the Spring of 2013 with construction works commencing in August 2013. Construction of the new prison will take approximately 2 years and, allowing for commissioning of systems etc., it is expected that the new prison will be operational by September 2015.
33. Limerick Prison: On 11 June 2012 Minister Shatter requested the Irish Prison Service to proceed with the preparation of plans for a major redevelopment at Limerick prison including the demolition of the early 19th century A and B wings and their replacement with modern cellular accommodation on a site adjacent to the prison. The new development will include full in-cell sanitation, showers and a range of ancillary facilities. Following the necessary approval, planning and tender processes, it is hoped that construction will commence in August/September 2013 with completion / commissioning in June /July 2015.
34. Mountjoy Prison: Work was undertaken in 2011 to modernise C wing of the prison In March 2012, Minister Shatter visited Mountjoy Prison to inspect the refurbished C Division. The refurbishment project included in-cell sanitation in all cells on the C Division and a dedicated Drug Free Area on the C3 landing which has been introduced as part of the enhancement of drug treatment services in all closed prisons.
The Refurbishment of the B Division is also now completed resulting in 317 cells having in-cell sanitation (almost 60% of the total prison) and a significantly improved physical environment.
A tender process for the refurbishment of A wing is complete and a contract is expected to be placed shortly. The project will take 9 months to complete. The Prison Service is developing plans for the modernisation of the D wing together with a range of supporting facilities for the prison such as workshops, kitchens laundry etc. It is expected that this final phase in the renewal of Mountjoy prison will go to tender in July 2013 and that the entire programme will be completed in April 2015.
35. Midlands Prison: During 2011 and 2012 a new wing was constructed in the Midlands to provide a potential 300 additional prison places. The construction is complete and the new wing is now being utilised and provides important extra capacity within the prison estate. Prisoners are being moved into the new wing on a phased basis.
36. Dochas Cente: The Dochas Centre, which is a women’s prison, acquired 20 new prison places as a result of the conversion of administrative building within the prison. The work commenced in late 2010 and was completed in September 2012.
37. Thornton Hall Prison Project Review Committee: On 26 July 2011, the Government approved in principle the recommendations contained in the Report of the Thornton Hall Prison Review Group (published on 28 July 2011). However, the reduced capital envelope available to the Justice Sector in 2012 and 2013 did not allow the Prison Service to proceed with the construction of Thornton Hall or Kilworth Prisons. Minister Shatter has reiterated his strong intention to revisit the timeframe for the implementation of the recommendations of the Thornton Hall Report in 2014, stating that the Government remains very much committed to addressing the twin problems of overcrowding and poor physical conditions within the prison estate.
38. Visits to Prisons by the Minister: Since taking office the Minister has visited the following prisons:
1) Mountjoy Prison
2) St Patrick’s Institution
3) Dóchas Centre
4) Cork Prison
5) Portlaoise Prison
6) Midlands Prison
7) Limerick Prison
8) Wheatfield Prison
9) Cloverhill Prison
10) Arbour Hill Prison
The Minister intends making further prison visits during 2013.
39. Prison Reform: On 26 July 2011, the Government decided to abolish the redundant Prisons Authority (Interim) Board, which was set up in 1998. The Board, which had a membership of 12 people, was set up by a previous administration to advise on and guide the management of the prison system pending the creation of an independent statutory Prisons Board. No statutory Board was ever established. The Government’s policy is to abolish agency boards where appropriate and to make agency managers directly accountable to Ministers. The decision to abolish the Board will save more than €100,000 per year. The Inspector of Prisons provides an independent oversight and critique of our prison system and his independence is provided for in the Prisons Act 2007.
Visiting Committees continue their role of visiting prisons. They continue to meet with prisoners and liaise on their behalf with prison authorities. It is intended to enact legislation to provide a direct relationship between prison visiting committees and the Inspector of Prisons who will have independent oversight of their work.
Increased oversight for Inspector of Prisons: Under new proposed arrangements, Visiting Committees will submit their Annual Reports to the Inspector of Prisons who will publish them. At present the Annual Prison Visiting Committee Reports are submitted to the Minister. Visiting Committees will report every two months to the Inspector on any issue that they wish to bring to his attention. They will be able to report any urgent or major issue to him at any time.
Prisoner Complaints: A new prisoner complaints procedure was introduced with effect from the 1 November 2012. All complaints made by prisoners alleging serious ill treatment, use of excessive force, serious intimidation/discrimination or threats by a member of staff of the Irish Prison Service, are now investigated by a team of independent investigators.
Penal Policy Review Group: An all encompassing strategic review of penal policy is underway which is examining all aspects of penal policy including prevention, sentencing policies, alternatives to custody, accommodation and regimes, support for reintegration and rehabilitation and the issue of female offenders. The Group is due to report in mid 2013.
Mental Illness: On 5 March 2012, Minister Shatter and Minister Lynch announced the establishment of an Interdepartmental Group to examine the issue of people with mental illness coming into contact with the criminal justice system. This is in line with the recommendation of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group. The Interdepartmental Group includes representatives from the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health as well as relevant services including the HSE, the National Forensic Mental Health Service, the Garda Síochána and the Irish Prison Service and is jointly chaired by both Departments. The Group is to report back in 2013.
Irish Prison Service 3 Year Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015: Minister Shatter launched the Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015 on 30 April 2012. The Strategy contains a new mission statement and vision for the Irish Prison Service - a mission to "provide safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities" and a vision for the Service of "a safer community through excellence in a prison service built on respect for human dignity". The Strategy also includes a 40 month capital plan to provide in-cell sanitation in all cells and radically improve prison conditions.
The Strategy sets out the overall high level objectives the Irish Prison Service intends to take during the period 2012 to 2015 and contains six strategic actions including: Prison Numbers; Prisoner Progression; Prisoner Programmes; Management and Staffing; Prison Estate; Consolidation of Prison Legislation.
Also included in the Strategy is a commitment to implement specific strategies including:
- Strategy for the management of Young offenders and Female Offenders;
- Strategy to Address Mental Illness;
- Strategy for Reducing Re-offending by Sex Offenders;
- Strategy for the Management of Prisoners Requiring Protection
- Strategy for the Management of Older Persons
- Strategy for Reducing Re-offending by Violent Offenders
Community Return Programme: Community Return is an initiative introduced initiative whereby carefully selected prisoners can be granted reviewable temporary release coupled with a requirement to do community service work such as painting, gardening or graffiti removal in a supervised group setting. The type of work involved is intended to assist the community and the scheme is involved with a large number of charitable organisations and local community groups.
The scheme, introduced on a pilot basis in October 2011, is applicable to suitably assessed prisoners who are serving sentences of more than one and less than eight years. Those participating are granted renewable temporary release having served at, or after, the 50% stage of their sentence with a condition of their release to undertake supervised community service.
There have, to date, been 347 participants on the scheme with 102 offenders currently engaged in community service work. Over 202 offenders have already completed the programme successfully with a small percentage of prisoners returned to custody for non-compliance. The reports to date from the Community Site Supervisors have been very positive and many of the participants have been commended for their work ethic, punctuality and commitment. Initial feedback from the participants has also been positive with many commenting on the supports and structure that it gives them on their release and how it has assisted in their transition back into the community.
Incentivised Regimes Scheme: The Incentivised Regimes Scheme which was introduced in all prisons during 2012 provides for a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and quality of behaviour. It is mandatory for each prison and for all prisoners. The objective is to provide tangible incentives to prisoners to participate in structured activities and to reinforce incentives for good behaviour, leading to a safer and more secure environment. Progression to the enhanced level will depend on meeting the criteria for that level, notably by exemplary behaviour and satisfactory engagement in structured activities, and, for those offenders eligible, participation in Integrated Sentence Management (ISM).
The Irish Prison Service has also introduced a revised prison gratuity system in all prisons. Three different levels (basic, standard and enhanced) of daily gratuity have been introduced, with the rates being paid dependent on behaviour and level of engagement in structured activities and sentence plans. All prisoners enter on the standard rate of €1.70 per day and, depending on their level of engagement and behaviour, they may be eligible for the enhanced rate of €2.20 per day. Prisoners who misbehave can be reduced to a daily rate of 95 cent. Prisoners may also have their own money in their accounts.
40. Prison Governance Structures: On 18 June 2012, Minister Shatter announced the appointment of three Prison Service Campus Governors, Governor Edward Whelan, Governor Colm Barclay and Governor Martin Mullen as Campus Governors of the Mountjoy Campus, the West Dublin Campus and the Portlaoise Campus respectively. These appointments facilitate the development of the new Campus structures in the prisons, whereby eight separate prison management structures will be combined into three consolidated Campus management structures. The implementation of new Campus Governance management structures, in addition to generating substantial savings at senior management levels, will also greatly facilitate the further development of shared services on each Campus.
41. Prison Deaths: Following consultation with the Inspector of Prisons, Minister Shatter announced on the 19 April 2012 that the death of any prisoner in the custody of the Irish Prison Service shall be the subject of an independent investigation by the Inspector of Prisons. There can be no questions unanswered when a person in State custody dies. This investigation is in addition and without prejudice to existing mechanisms in place for the investigation of deaths including Garda investigations and inquests by Coroners.
Citizenship and Immigration
42. Progress on clearing of backlog of applications for citizenship and new Citizenship Ceremony: When Minister Shatter took office in March 2011 there was a backlog of approximately 22,000 citizenship applications awaiting decision, approximately 17,000 of which had been awaiting decision for in excess of 6 months and many for in excess of 3 years. The vast bulk of this backlog has now been dealt with. In 2011, Minister Shatter put in place improved systems for more efficient processing of Citizenship Applications and arranged for more user friendly application forms and web access to such forms. In addition, the Minister devised and presided over the first formal Citizenship Ceremony ever held in this State in June 2011. A further 62 ceremonies have taken place in the period 1 July 2011 to 31 December 2012 and Citizenship Ceremonies will continue to be scheduled into the future. In his first 24 months in office Minister Shatter has determined over 44,000 Citizenship applications. In the year 2010, under 8,000 such applications were determined.
43. Streamlined Immigration Procedures: In April 2012, Minister Shatter renewed streamlined immigration procedures, originally introduced in 2011, to apply to passenger and crew of cruise liners for the 2012 season. These arrangements facilitate the easy embarkation of visitors on cruise ships at ports of entry to the State. While immigration controls are a necessary feature of worldwide travel, this initiative shows that the immigration system can also be used to facilitate economic activity such as tourism and thereby help to create and safeguard jobs. It is expected that similar procedures will be continued for the 2013 season.
44. Civilian Staff Dublin Airport:. Ever since immigration checks have been put in place (1930’s) this role had been discharged exclusively by the Garda Síochána. Following a successful pilot project in 2012 which saw civilian staff delivering immigration services at Dublin airport, plans are underway for its full-scale extension which will ultimately release a significant number of Gardaí to frontline policing duties.
45. Immigrant Investor Programme and Start-up Entrepreneur Programme:
In January 2012, Minister Shatter secured Government approval for two new programmes, the Immigrant investor Programme and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, aimed at stimulating investment and job creation in Ireland. Fourteen applications have been approved since the programmes became operational in April 2012, representing a total investment in Ireland of over €10.4 million. This investment is projected to protect over 80 existing jobs and create 190 jobs in new enterprises over the next 3 years underlining the job creation potential of the initiative.
46. Ireland’s first formal Visa Waiver Programme, designed and launched by Minister Shatter, to assist in the promotion of Ireland as a quality business and leisure destination has been extended to October 2016 and the number of countries covered has been increased to seventeen. The number of visits from the countries covered by the Programme increased by 21% in the twelve months following its introduction.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is continuing to work closely with UK counterparts towards the implementation of a common visa for short stay visitors. It is anticipated that such a visa will prove an attractive option for tourists and business visitors, particularly in the context of the island of Ireland by facilitating visitors to travel freely throughout the island of Ireland without the need for a separate Irish and UK visa.
In addition, the roll-out of a multi-entry visa regime for business travellers is ongoing, which allows for the granting of multi-entry visas of up to three-years duration. This was implemented in the Gulf region in 2011, in Russia and China in 2012, and it is proposed to extend the regime to India in 2013.
To contribute to the success of The Gathering, an initiative has been put in place to encourage and assist visitors from countries who require a visa to travel to Ireland. People attending approved events taking place under the auspices of The Gathering will be able to make visa applications free of charge, and will be processed on a priority basis.
47. Zambrano Judgement: The European Union Court of Justice Zambrano Judgement (March 2011) prevents an EU Member State refusing a parent who has minor dependent children, who are EU citizens, the right to reside in the Member State of residence and nationality of those children. At the direction of the Minister, Departmental officials examined all cases before the courts (140 involving 134 applicants) involving Irish citizen dependent children to which the Zambrano judgement was relevant. The vast majority of these persons have now had their Deportation Order revoked and/or been granted permission to remain in the State. The relevance of Zambrano to others seeking to remain in the State is also under examination and, in the best interests of Irish citizen children, over 1,000 persons have to date been granted Irish residency rights.
An Garda Siochana / Policing / Crime
48. The consolidation of the Garda Station network commenced in 2012, in implementation of the Garda Commissioner’s Policing Plan 2012, with the closure of 39 Garda Stations (8 of which had not opened for some time). A further 100 Garda Stations were included in a list for closure in Policing Plan 2013. The closures will result in an extra 61,000 patrol hours being available in 2013 and will maximise the number of Gardaí engaging in frontline policing in our communities – investigating, detecting and preventing crime.
49. Garda Numbers, Promotions, Retirements: There is a requirement in the EU/IMF agreement for a reduction in public sector numbers and An Garda Síochána, like every other public sector organisation must carry its fair share of that reduction. The total number of departures from An Garda Síochána in 2012 was approximately 460, which will leave a force strength of just over 13,400 - a level very similar to that during 2007.
In February 2012, 33 new appointments were announced, including 2 Assistant Commissioners, 8 Chief Superintendents and 23 Superintendents. The consequential vacancies at Sergeant and Inspector level were also filled and there are panels in place to fill future vacancies. This resulted in 66 new appointments in those ranks.
In July 2012, Minister Shatter announced the appointment by the Government of 1 Assistant Commissioner, 4 Chief Superintendents and 13 Superintendents in An Garda Síochána. The vacancies in other senior management positions, including the post of Chief Administrative Officer, are also being filled.
In December 2012 the Government appointed Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to serve an additional two years from August 2013.
Garda recruitment is currently under active consideration and Minister Shatter expects to discuss this with his Cabinet colleagues during 2013.
50. Garda Rostering
A new Garda Roster and Working Time Agreement has been developed, agreed and implemented by An Garda Síochána. The new arrangements, which include overlapping shift patterns, result in more Gardai being on duty during periods of greater policing demand and fewer at quieter times.
51. Garda Vetting: Sanction has been obtained for the redeployment of additional staff to the Garda Central Vetting Unit [which will become the National Vetting Bureau following the commencement of the The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012] to provide for an increased demand in vetting services following the enactment of new legislation.
52. 6th European Gay Police Association Conference: Minister Shatter delivered the Opening Address at the 6th European Gay Police Association Conference in Dublin on the 28 June 2012.
53. Minister Shatter presided over Graduation Ceremonies of members of An Garda Síochána and of the Garda Reserve in Templemore
54. North-South Meetings: Minister Shatter has developed a very good working relationship with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and they meet very regularly to address issues of common interest in relation to justice, security and policing in the two jurisdictions. He also meets regularly with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, formerly Owen Paterson MP and, more recently, Theresa Villiers MP.
Minister Shatter and Minister Ford have jointly attended a number of important conferences, including the 2011 and 2012 joint Probation Services’ Seminars in Antrim and in Dublin, and the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes’ Annual Conference held in Dublin in May 2012. Minister Shatter has also attended the annual North-South Organised Crime Seminar on two occasions with Minister Ford and senior members of the police and other law enforcement services on the island. These are very important examples of the close North-South co-operation in criminal justice matters that has been developed and that contributes immeasurably to improving community safety on the island of Ireland.
55. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding to support cooperation between forensic science agencies on the island of Ireland: Minister Shatter obtained Cabinet approval for Memorandum of Understanding for support and cooperation between this State’s Forensic Science Laboratory and the Northern Ireland Forensic Science Laboratory which Memorandum was signed and implemented by Minister Shatter and Minister David Ford in Armagh on the 8 June 2011.
56. Meeting with relatives of the disappeared: On the 25 November 2011 Minister Shatter, together with Minister of State Hugo Swire of the Northern Ireland Office met with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains and with members of the families of those who disappeared during the troubles, including those whose family members' remains have been located by the Commission and those whose remains have not been discovered. He assured them of the two Governments continuing support for the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains and for doing whatever is possible to locate the remains of loved ones and further initiatives that could be taken to seek crucial outstanding information from those may know the whereabouts of remains.
57. Omagh Support and Self-help Group: On 19 July 2012 Minister Shatter met with representatives of the Omagh Support and Self-help Group and received from them a copy of a report they have on events relating to the Omagh bombing on 15 August 1998. The Minister advised the Omagh group that he would consider the report fully. The Minister also indicated to the Group that he will also forward the report to the Garda Commissioner for his consideration.
Capital Spending / Financial / Savings
58. An Garda Siochana: Minister Shatter secured additional funding over the three year period, 2012-2014, to ensure that the Garda Commissioner and indeed An Garda Síochána could continue to deliver an effective policing service. In summary, for the Justice Sector in 2012, Minister Shatter secured €2.243 billion which was an additional €118 million over and above the Fianna Fáil allocation of €2.125 billion. For 2013 he secured funding of €2.2 billion which was €191 million over and above the Fianna Fáil allocation of €2.009 billion, and for 2014, he secured funding of €2.065 billion which was €105 million over and above the original Fianna Fáil allocation of €1.96 billion. With the Fianna Fail National Recovery Plan the Garda Commissioner and An Garda Síochána would have stood with an average of €90 million less each year for 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Garda budget for 2013 is in excess of €1.4 billion.
59. Capital Announcement: On 17 July 2012 the Government announced an additional €2.25 billion domestic infrastructure stimulus to create much needed jobs. Of this, a total of €190 million is allocated to a range of Justice Sector projects, particularly in the Garda and courts areas. These projects will include new Garda Divisional Headquarters for the Dublin South Central, Galway and Wexford Divisions as well as court refurbishment developments in Cork, Mullingar and Waterford as well as new courts buildings in Drogheda, Letterkenny, Limerick and Wexford. Provision is also being made for a new facility for the Office of the State Pathologist and the Dublin Coroner.
60. Ministerial Transport: Revised arrangements for Ministerial transport is resulting in estimated savings of €4 million per year.
61. Reduction in costs of Criminal Legal Aid: It is estimated that final expenditure on criminal legal aid for 2012 will be in the region of €50.7 million, an unprecedented 10% reduction on costs in excess of €56 million in 2011. These savings follow targeted reductions to the fees payable under the scheme which the Minister introduced by Regulation in the course of 2011. Ongoing cross agency work during 2012, in cooperation with the judiciary and representatives of the legal profession, to introduce more efficient work practices and procedures in the criminal justice system has also contributed to the reduction. This work to develop and implement efficiencies will continue during 2013 when the budget allocated for criminal legal aid remains unchanged at €47.5 million.
Civil Partnership / Gay Marriage
62. Recognition of Foreign Civil Partnerships and Gay Marriages: : An Order, made by Minister Shatter under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, came into effect on 25 December 2011, detailing 32 countries/states in respect of whom registered relationships are entitled to be treated as equivalent to civil partnership under Irish law These are: Civil Partnerships from the Isle of Man; Civil Partnerships from South Africa; Civil Unions from Illinois, USA; Marriages from New York, USA; Domestic Partnerships from Oregon, USA; and Civil Unions from Rhode Island, USA. The Order was updated on 31 December 2012 to include marriages from Denmark; Civil Unions from Delaware, USA; Civil Unions from Hawaii, USA; and marriages from Washington, USA.
63. Magdalen Laundries: Minister Shatter, together with Minister Lynch, initiated the first substantive response by Government to address the issue of the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalen Laundries. On the Minister’s proposal, agreed by Government, an Inter-departmental Committee was established, chaired by then Senator Martin McAleese, to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries. Dr McAleese’s Report was brought to Cabinet and published on 5 February 2013. Statements were made in Dail Eireann on 19 February during which An Taoiseach apologised to the former residents of the Magdalen Laundries for the hurt and stigma suffered by them as a result of the time they spent in the Laundries. It was agreed by Government that a Fund should be established for the benefit of the women. The Government appointed retired High Court Judge and current President of the Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice Quirke, to examine how, taking into account the McAleese Report, the Government might best provide supports (including health services such as medical cards, psychological and counselling services and other welfare needs) for the women who need such supports as a result of their experiences. Justice Quirke has been asked to report back to Government in 3 months time when a decision will be made on the detailed operation of the Fund.
64. Cloyne Report: On 13 July 2011, Minister Shatter and Minister Fitzgerald published the Commission of Investigation Report into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne. In response, the Ministers brought forward a comprehensive range of measures designed to address not just the type of problem highlighted by the Commission's report on Cloyne but provide the foundation for an immeasurably strengthened system of child protection. These measures include: the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Act ; the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and revised Children First National Guidelines which, following the Government decision, will be placed on a statutory footing. Following a High Court decision, the Department of Justice and Equality published the redacted parts of the Cloyne report on 19 December 2011.
65. State/Official Visits: As Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Minister Shatter had political responsibility for the necessary security and protection arrangements put in place by An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and for their participation in civil ceremonies and events during the visits in 2011 to this State of HRH Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama.
66. EU Councils: Over the last two years, Minister Shatter has attended EU Justice and Home Affairs Council Meetings and Foreign Affairs Councils with Ministers of Defence meetings to coordinate and cooperate on crucial EU issues of common interest. On the margins of these meetings he regularly has bilateral meetings with those attending to discuss matters of mutual interest.
67. EU Presidency: For the duration of Ireland’s Presidency of the EU from 01 January – 30 June 2013, Minister Shatter is President of the Council of Europe Justice Ministers and is the lead Defence Minister is dealing with matters relating to the European Common Security and Defence Policy and liaising with the European External Action Service. In the Justice area he has responsibility for in excess of 51 dossiers dealing with a variety of proposed European Union measures that are presently under consideration by European Union Ministers and the European Parliament.
Meetings of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers and EU Defence Ministers in Dublin Castle:
Minister Shatter hosted a meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Dublin Castle on 17 and 18 January 2013 and a meeting of the EU Defence Ministers in Dublin Castle on 12 and 13 February as part of Irelands Presidency of the EU.
Agenda for meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers 17/18 Jan 2013
· Migration for Growth
· Greek National Action Plan on Asylum & Migration
· Update on Situation in Syria
· Internal Security and Growth
· Missing Persons Day – presentation by Ireland
· Update from Bulgaria on terrorist attack
· European cross-border Insolvency law
· Presentation by Ireland’s Head of Criminal Assets Bureau
· Data Protection – certain key issues
· Protecting EU citizens' fundamental rights; action to counter hate crime and intolerance, including racism and anti-Semitism.
Agenda for meeting of EU Defence Ministers 12/13 Feb 2013
· Preparing for the European Council 2013
· Horn of Africa
68. Data Protection: Data Protection is a key priority for Ireland during our Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On 6 March 2012 Minister Shatter launched a consultation process on the European Commission proposal for a new Directive and Regulation on data protection standards within the EU. Submissions were received from a broad range of bodies and have been examined in the Department for the purposes of informing Ireland's input into the discussions which are currently taking place in the relevant EU Working Group.
Minister Shatter has been engaged in substantial discussions at EU level with his Ministerial colleagues in relation to the content of the Commission’s proposals. The proposed Directive and Regulation are intended to replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive which sets standards for the protection of personal data and transfer of such data within the internal market and to countries outside the EU. The Directive was transposed into Irish law in the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003.
69. Victims of Crime: At meetings of the European Council of Justice, Minister Shatter contributed to the development of the newly proposed EU Regulation detailing the rights of victims of crime to provide a uniform protection for such victims across the European Union.
One of the first successes was completing negotiations with the Parliament which will ensure greater protection for domestic violence victims across Europe. Ministers are expected to formally approve, at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Friday 8th March, a deal reached under the Irish Presidency with the European Parliament on the Proposal for a Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (also referred to as “European Protection Order (civil)”). This new EU Regulation will mean that a protection order, such as for example a barring order obtained by a victim of domestic violence, will be recognised and enforceable in all other EU Member States. This measure is part of the European Commission’s victims’ package putting victims at the heart of the criminal justice agenda of the EU. It will enable victims of domestic violence, for example, to travel around Europe in safety.
70. Confiscation of Criminal Assets: Minister Shatter also initiated at a European Council Meeting of Justice Ministers a process to obtain support from EU Justice Ministers for the provision of a European wide framework for the establishment, in European Union countries, of Criminal Asset Bureaus which replicate the Irish CAB and steps toward the enforcement across the European Union of Court Orders made to seize the proceeds of crime where such proceeds are held in one EU country and have derived from criminal activity in another EU country.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council, in December 2012, agreed a General Approach on the draft Directive on confiscation of proceeds of crime. The Proposal seeks to lay down minimum rules for Member States with respect to freezing and confiscation of criminal assets through direct confiscation, value confiscation, extended confiscation, non-conviction based confiscation (in limited circumstances) and third-party confiscation. This is a priority dossier for the Irish Presidency which is making every effort to work with the European Parliament to achieve possible adoption of the proposal by the end of June 2013.
71. During Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, the Commission’s new Insolvency proposals which were published in December will be considered. The publication coincided with the completion and enactment of Ireland’s domestic insolvency legislation. Modernising the EU insolvency rules, will have very real benefits in supporting the restructuring of businesses in financial difficulties and will help to give viable businesses a second chance. It will also provide important provision for a more informed and coherent EU approach to personal insolvency, for determining the appropriate jurisdiction in which personal bankruptcy proceeding should be processed and a mechanism for the mutual recognition of non-judicial debt settlement arrangements, such as those contained in our Personal Insolvency Act 2012.
72. Appointments Advertised: Expressions of interest were sought through public advertisement and/or Department of Justice website and/or through the Public Appointments Service from suitably qualified and experienced persons for appointment to a variety of positions and bodies including:
· Ireland's representative to the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)
· Board of the National Disability Authority
· Ireland's representative to the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
· Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
· Property Services Regulatory Authority
· Taxing Master of the High Court
· Director-designate of the Insolvency Service
· Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission
· Director General of the Irish Prison Service
· Garda Síochána Inspectorate
· Board of the National Disability Authority
· Property Services Authority
· Ombudsman for Defence
73. Defence Forces Numbers and Promotions: Minister Shatter secured the agreement of Government that the Permanent Defence Forces would stabilise at 9,500 on an annualised basis up to and including 2014 and would not fall below that number. This brought to an end the continuing decrease in Permanent Defence Force numbers which occurred in previous years. The strength of the Permanent Defence Forces as at 31 December 2012 stood at 9,359 after retirements. There will be further recruitment to the Defence Forces during 2013.
74. Re-Organisation of the Defence Forces: In December 2011 the Minister announced that the Defence Forces would move from a three brigade structure to a two brigade structure. On 17 July 2012 the Minister announced the details of the PDF reorganisation and stated that the two brigade headquarters would be based in Collins Barrack, Cork and in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin. The re-organisation will enhance operational capabilities within a reduced resource envelope. The implementation of the PDF re-organisation was largely complete by the end of November 2012. Following the publication of a Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force in November 2012, the Minister initiated a major re-organisation of the Reserve. This will deliver significant efficiencies and dovetail with the re-organised PDF. The number of Reserve locations being retained outside of PDF installations is being reduced to 16 and the number of full time PDF Cadre is being reduced to 57. The implementation of all the findings of the VFM will ensure a viable future for the Reserve.
75. Barrack Closures, Increasing Efficiency and Re-Organisation: Minister Shatter secured the agreement of Cabinet for the closure of four army barracks to ensure a more efficient use of resources and to increase the army numbers available for frontline services and agreement that no further barrack closures would occur during the lifetime of the Government.
76. Defence Forces Participation in Missions Abroad:
Minister Shatter secured Government approval for:-
March 2012: Increase in the number of personnel deployed with the CSDP mission engaged in the training of the Somali Security Forces, currently called “EUTM Somalia”. Ireland also holds the post of Mission Commander for this mission.
24 April 2012: Deployment of up to six members of the Permanent Defence Force as unarmed military observers to the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), in response to a request from the United Nations. Six Defence Forces personnel were deployed to the mission area on 11 May 2012. On 20 July 2012, the mandate of the mission was renewed for a further 30 days. At the request of the United Nations the Defence Forces contribution to this mission was reduced to three personnel on 22 July 2012. The remaining Irish Defence Forces personnel were withdrawn from UNSMIS in August 2012 when the mission’s mandate came to an end.
22 May 2012: Continued provision of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), for a further period of 12 months from 30 May 2012. The formation of a joint Irish-Finnish Battalion in UNIFIL in mid-May 2012 saw the downsizing of the Irish contribution to UNIFIL to some 350 personnel. On 28 April 2012, Brigadier General Patrick Phelan assumed his appointment as Deputy Force Commander UNIFIL for an initial period of one year.
26 June 2012: Continued provision of up to twelve members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the UN-authorised-NATO-led International Security Presence in Kosovo (KFOR), for a further period of twelve months beyond June 2012 and
Seven members of the Permanent Defence Force, for a further period from July 2012 for service with the UN-authorised NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan, subject to renewal of the mandate by the United Nations Security Council beyond 13 October 2012 and to ongoing review by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence.
4 December 2012: Continued provision of up to seven members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the UN authorised mission, “Operation ALTHEA”, the EU-led Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for a further period of up to 12 months beyond December 2012, subject to ongoing review by the Minister; and
Up to twelve members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with EUTM Somalia for service with the EU mission to train the Somali Security Forces, known as EUTM Somalia, for a further period of up to 12 months beyond December 2012,in accordance with the decision of the Council of the European Union of 4 February 2010 establishing the mission and subject to an appropriate decision of the Council of the European Union extending the mission beyond 31 December 2012.
26 February 2013: Deployment of up to eight members of the Permanent Defence Force to the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali). Six of these personnel will be deployed to the joint UK/Irish training team and two personnel will occupy staff posts in the mission. This paves the way for the deployment of Irish personnel to the mission, which is being carried out in support of United Nations Security Council resolutions 2071 (2012) and 2085 (2012). This deployment is an historic first joint UN Deployment with the United Kindgdom, First Royal Irish Regiment.
77. The White Paper on Defence: In order to inform debate as part of the process to develop a new White Paper of Defence, the Minister for Defence initiated the preparation of a Green paper on Defence. In April 2012, a Memorandum for Government setting out the proposed approach and timeframe was circulated to Cabinet colleagues and subsequently approved by Government. A draft Green Paper is being finalised for the Ministers consideration. Subject to Government approval, the White Paper process will be initiated shortly with the publication of the Green Paper. Members of the public and other interested parties, including representative associations, will then be given their opportunity to submit their views on Defence policy and Defence provision. The new White Paper on Defence will be prepared and published by end 2013.
78. Visit to Lebanon: The Minister accompanied President McAleese on her official visit to Lebanon in October 2011. The visit to Lebanon afforded the Minister an opportunity to see, at first hand, the dedication and professionalism of military personnel and the tremendous work done overseas by the Irish Defence Forces. The Minister participated in meetings with members of the Lebanese government which addressed not only peace keeping matters but also the enhancement and development of closer economic ties between Ireland and Lebanon. The Minister will again visit Lebanon in March 2013.
79. Callanan Report: The Minister commissioned, in April 2011 and subsequently published, in September 2011, the report of Mr Frank Callanan S.C., into the circumstances related to the deaths of Cpl Fintan Heneghan, Pte Mannix Armstrong and Pte Thomas Walsh on 21 March 1989, while serving with C Company, 64th Infantry Battalion in the United Nations Interim Force in the Lebanon (UNIFIL). The inquiry encompassed a review of all available documents and interviews with all persons, as considered appropriate by him.
80. Implementation of the Defence Forces Medical Services Review: The recommendations of the PA Consultants Report on the restructuring of the Medical Corps have been designed to meet the demands and needs of the Defence Forces and implementation is progressing. The Minister is committed to providing a sustainable medical service to meet the needs of the Defence Forces both at home and overseas. An integrated model for the provision of the required medical services, involving both Medical Corps and outsourced service provision across the full range of services recommended by the PA consultants, is also being progressed. In this regard Request For Information (RFI) from prospective service providers was issued on 1 June 2012 to assist in evaluating potential options for market derived solutions to meet the medical requirements of the Defence Forces. A total of 15 proposals were received. Following on from the RFI meetings have be held with a number of service providers and the Department is now considering which services might be outsourced and the most appropriate approach to take in this regard.
81. Private Paddy Kelly Posthumous Award: On 16 July 2012 Minister Shatter posthumously awarded the Military Star Medal to Private Paddy Kelly (RIP) who was tragically killed on active service in Ballinamore, Co.Leitrim in 1983. This was the first occasion the Military Star was awarded to a member of the Defence Forces killed on active service within the State. Such award was not possible until Minister Shatter amended the relevant defence force regulations in the autumn of 2011. Prior to then, such award could only be made where a member of the Defence Forces was killed on active service outside the State, for example on UN duty.
82. Visits to Military Facilities: The Minister has visited the following military facilities since his appointment:
1) The Military Cadet School in the Curragh Camp, Kildare
2) The Defence Forces Training Centre at the Curragh, Co. Kildare
3) Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin
4) The Naval Base in Haulbowline
5) Collins Barracks, Cork
6) Custume Barracks, Athlone
7) Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa Barracks, Renmore
8) Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel
9) McKee Barracks, Dublin
83. Irish and Finnish Perspectives on European Security and Defence Policy: On 8th September 2011, the Minister hosted a Seminar in Farmleigh on Irish and Finnish Perspectives on European Security and Defence Policy. The purpose of the meeting was to share perspectives on defence policy issues. This is of mutual benefit as both Ireland and Finland are neutral, militarily non-aligned countries which are members of the EU but not members of NATO. The seminar was very successful and has provided a template for similar meetings with other partners in the future. The seminar was attended by senior personnel from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence as well as senior military officers from both countries. In addition a number of Academics from both countries attended.
84. Memorandum of Understanding – Ireland’s Participation in the Austro/German Battlegroup 2012: On 7 February 2012 the Minister obtained Dáil Éireann approval to sign the Memorandum of Understanding for the Austro/German Battlegroup, which will be on standby for the second half of 2012 for peacekeeping and crisis management missions. The Austro/German Battlegroup Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between the participants, namely Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which sets out principles in relation to the operation, deployment and management of the Austro/German Battlegroup.
85. European Defence Agency (EDA) Projects: On 27 September 2011, Minister Shatter secured Dáil Éireann approval for Ireland’s participation in two EDA projects. One of the projects relates to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Protection and the other relates to Maritime Surveillance. The two EDA projects are progressing well. The programme arrangement for the project relating to Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Protection was signed in Brussels on 22 March 2012. Proposals have been selected and the first round of contracts has been awarded. The technical arrangement relating to the other project on Maritime Surveillance came into effect on 6 February 2012. The Programme Arrangement has been signed by participating Member States and the Technical Specification is currently being prepared.
At the EDA Steering Board meeting on 30 November 2011 Minister Shatter indicated that the Irish Naval Service would act as lead nation in conducting a study on Naval Mariner training. The objective of the study is to review and evaluate what training is currently available across the Union with a view to consolidating European Union capabilities in this area and delivering value for money training for our naval mariners. This study will support the EDA initiative in the area of military capability development called “Pooling and Sharing”. The concept involves groups of Member States coming together and pooling resources so as to retain, maintain and/or enhance their military capabilities which they can make available for Common Security and Defence Policy operations. Ireland is encouraging all Member States to be involved in this study to ensure an efficient use of training resources across the Union.
An analysis of the results has been carried out and diving and simulators training and development of syllabi and training in the English language were identified for further development. An expert group was set up to continue work in 2013 in relation to diving.
86. In July 2011, Minister Shatter secured Government approval pursuant to s. 8(5) of the Science and Technology Act 1987, whereby Enterprise Ireland (EI) would support Defence by raising the awareness of and engaging with, Irish-based enterprise and research institutes, including third level colleges that are engaged in relevant activities related to Defence Forces capability development. The primary objective is to support Defence Forces capability development and also to support innovation, growth and jobs in Irish based industry, particularly in the security and defence (dual use) sector, which can contribute to Ireland’s economic development and recovery. This collaboration is now bearing fruit; in 2012 the Defence Forces are involved in a myriad of research projects in an advisory capacity, some of which have applied for European Union funding.
On 3rd October the Minister launched a seminar on “Opportunities in the European Security and Defence Markets”, which was organised jointly by Enterprise Ireland and the Defence Organisation. The objective of the seminar, which was attended by representatives from academia, industry and the European Defence Agency (EDA), was to afford Irish industry and research institutions an opportunity to engage with the EDA, and to hear from the Defence Forces about initiatives in their area of capability development. This is in support of Government policy to promote and support investment in technology research and development and put in place incentives for companies engaged in research and development. The key note address was provided by Madame Claude France Arnould, Chief Executive of the EDA.
87. Irish Red Cross: The Programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Red Cross in Ireland to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances. Changes proposed by the Minister to the Irish Red Cross Order 1939 were approved by the Government on 17 April 2012. The Amendment Order provides a legislative basis for a range of fundamental changes recently made to the corporate governance of the Society. As a consequence of these changes, on 8 May 2012 the Minister secured Government approval for the appointment of four Government nominees to the General Assembly of the Society. Furthermore, in accordance with the commitment made in the Programme for Government, a comprehensive review of all Red Cross legislation has recently commenced.
88. Cavalry Corp Day 3rd September 2011: The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D., and the Minister attended the annual Defence Forces Cavalry Corps Remembrance Day at the Defence Forces Training Centre, Plunkett Barracks, Curragh Camp.
89. Ceremony to mark the 50th Anniversary of the death of Trooper Patrick Mullins in the Congo: The Minister attended the unveiling of a monument in Kilbehenny, Co Limerick to Trooper Patrick Mullins, who died as a result of hostile action while on service in the Congo on the 15th September 1961.
90. In May 2012 the Minister approved an increase in the Minimum Recruitment Age for the Permanent Defence Force from 17 to 18. As the age limit for recruitment is currently provided for under existing Defence Forces Regulations (secondary legislation), it is proposed to implement the change by means of an amendment to the relevant Defence Force Regulations. Work on the proposed regulatory amendments is currently underway. The increase in the minimum age will apply to any new competition advertised in the future.
91. Winter Ready Campaign 2012: On the 9 November 2012, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD and Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, launched the “Be Winter-Ready” 2012-2013 Information Campaign at the National Emergency Coordination Centre in Dublin. Also in attendance were representatives from the various Departments and Agencies tasked with emergency response. The main objectives of the campaign are:
1) To provide practical advice to on how best to prepare for the coming winter.
2) To ensure the public are aware of where advice and help can be found, if needed.
3) To reassure the public that preparations are being made and arrangements have been put in place to ensure that there will be a coordinated response to severe weather events.
06 March 2013
No documents found
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