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Minister Announces Appointment Of New Chief Executive Officer of the Parole Board.

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, T.D. has today announced the appointment of Ms. Ciairín de Buis as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Parole Board, following an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service.

Ms. de Buis has worked in the NGO and not-for-profit sector for over 25 years. She has led in areas such as gender equality, children’s rights and services for people with disabilities. Currently providing strategic advice to organisations such as Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, she previously led organisations such as Women for Election and Start Strong, as well as leading Extern on an interim basis in 2020.

She has been awarded the Praeses Elit award for her work towards achieving gender equality, and is currently the vice-chair of the Children’s Rights Alliance. She was previously a board member of Sonas (Freedom from Domestic Violence), as well as having served 2 terms as a member of the advisory Parole Board. Ms. de Buis has previously been a member of the National Children’s Advisory Council, and the Expert Advisory Group on Early Years.

A Kerrywoman, Ms. de Buis has a law degree, a Masters in Criminology as well as a Masters in Political Science.

Revealing the new appointment, the Minister said,

“The establishment of the Parole Board on a statutory footing is a priority action under my Justice Plan 2021 and is a key commitment in the Programme for Government. It represents an important step forward in recognising the rights of victims in the cases heard and ensures independent decision making for applicants.

I am delighted to announce Ciairín de Buis as the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly established statutory Parole Board.

As I have said before, transparency and accountability are vital in achieving fairness for victims of crime and rehabilitation for prisoners. In this context the Parole Board plays a vital role in the justice system.
I am pleased to say that Ms. de Buis is an extremely well qualified and high calibre candidate who will be able to bring a huge amount of professional experience to her new role.”

Speaking about her new role as Chief Executive Officer of the statutory Parole Board, Ms Ciairín de Buis said,

“I am very much looking forward to leading the work of the independent Parole Board. Working with my colleagues – board members and staff – I look forward to further developing the work of the Parole Board and delivering a parole system that is fair to prisoners and listens to victims”.

Welcoming the new CEO, Chair of the Parole Board Mr Justice Michael White, said,

“I very much welcome the appointment of Ciairín de Buis as the new CEO of the Board. I look forward to working with her closely in the years ahead, as we proceed to give effect to the principles set out in the Act. I would also like to thank the interim CEO Brendan Eiffe for the significant work undertaken since establishment of the new Board on 1st of August last.”

The Parole Board, established under the Parole Act 2019, on July 31st2021 , is an independent statutory body entirely separate from its predecessor and will make its decisions about parole independently from the Minister for Justice.

The statutory Parole Board considers the eligibility for parole of prisoners serving life sentences once the prisoners concerned have served at least 12 years of their sentence. In addition, for the first time, victims of the crimes of a given parole applicant have a formal right to make submissions to the Parole Board in relation to an application for parole and victims can avail of legal representation to assist with this.

Recognising the progress of the Parole Board to date the Minister said,

“A significant amount of work has already been undertaken since the Parole Board was established earlier this year and it is only right that this work is acknowledged and those involved thanked for ensuring that this important aspect of the Criminal Justice system is available to victims and parole applicants as soon as possible.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the interim Chief Executive Officer Brendan Eiffe, the Chair of the Parole Board, Hon. Mr Justice Michael White, the Parole Board members and the staff of the Parole Board for all their hard work over the last number of months”.

The parole process provided for by the 2019 Act consists of a number of steps that must be complied with before a review of a given case can occur. Information on the process has been provided to applicants and is widely available throughout the prisons estate generally.

Under the Act both victims and parole applicants may have access to legal representation. In this regard the Parole Board is in the process of establishing a Legal Aid Scheme and the Board recently advertised for suitably qualified solicitors and barristers to become members of a legal aid panel. Subsequently a panel of legal professionals has been set up to provide legal assistance where the relevant parties express a desire for this.

The Parole Board website is also now live and can be accessed HERE

In addition, a considerable amount of preparatory work has been undertaken by the Board relating to the new processes, applications and corporate governance and the Minister is advised that the Board will begin making decisions on applications in early 2022.

Budget 2022 provided an additional €0.4m to the Parole Board resulting in a total allocation of €1.74m to support the Parole Board’s important work.

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Justice Minister Notes Release Of CSO Crime Stats For Q3 2021.

A 48% increase in crimes against the person recorded in the Thurles area in Quarter 3 of 2021.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD, has noted today’s publication of Recorded Crime Statistics for Q3, 2021, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These statistics cover the 12-month period up to the end of September 2021.

Speaking about the latest statistics, the Minister said,

“The latest statistics from the CSO show welcome decreases in many categories of crime. However, we must consider them in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various necessary public health restrictions that have come with that. And while these decreases are to be welcomed, it is important to note the significant increase in reported fraud crimes and recorded sexual offences.

I also note that the statistics once again show an increase in those recorded as driving under the influence of drugs. I would strongly urge anyone considering doing so not to engage in this behaviour over the Christmas and New Year period as it can lead to real tragedy at what should be a special time of year.

Fraud Crime

Today’s CSO figures state that reported fraud offences have increased by 72% in the year to Q3. This increase primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information.

In October, as part of European Cybersecurity Month, the Department launched a major cybercrime awareness campaign, involving Community Gardaí and Crime Prevention Officers around the country providing information to local communities on how to avoid falling victim to such scams. This included local information events, as well as the normal engagement Gardaí have with their communities. There were also dedicated radio advertisements broadcast nationally as part of the campaign.

The Minister stated,

“As Christmas approaches and more people are shopping online, I encourage people to be mindful and not to respond or give out any personal or financial details.

We have all received some of these strange phone calls and text messages over the last few months. Some of them can be very sophisticated and unfortunately it is easy to be scammed out of significant amounts of money. I encourage anyone who believes they may have been the victim of fraud or scams to contact the Gardaí.”

Sexual offences

Today’s CSO figures also show that the number of recorded sexual offences has increased by almost 10% on the previous 12 month period. This increase may relate to an increase in incidents, increased reporting, better recording or a combination of these.

The Minister said,

“The significant and continued increase in sexual offenses is of particular concern. The No Excuses campaign that my department has been running since 2019 highlights that, as a society, we all have a role to play in preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence. The campaign underpins the message that sexual violence and harassment will not be tolerated. We are currently in the process of developing a further campaign to raise awareness of the meaning and importance of consent.

Through Justice Plan 2021 and Supporting a Victim’s Journey, I am working to reform the criminal justice system at every point in which a victim comes into contact with it, and to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases.”

To date, a number of key actions have been delivered as part of implementing ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’ including: –

  • Legislating for the introduction of preliminary trial hearings;
  • The nationwide rollout of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU);
  • The first cohort of staff at a new sexual offences unit in the Director of Public Prosecutions office formally took up their roles in April;
  • Work to advance the training for all personnel who come into contact with vulnerable victims is underway;
  • As part of the Supporting a Victim’s Journey plan, the Department of Justice recently undertook a review of the Victims of Crime and Domestic, Sexual, Gender Based Violence funding in order to ensure that the grants provided by the Department are as effective as possible in supporting victims of crime within criminal justice processes.

The result of this review is that the Department is now in the process of developing multi-annual funding commitments for those organisations providing court accompaniment and other justice-related services. Additional funding has also been allocated to a number of organisations who were identified where additional funding would allow them to provide further services and to increase the geographical spread of support to victims of crime.

This additional funding is separate to increased funding recently announced under Budget 2022 for combatting domestic, sexual and gender based violence and for supporting victims of crime.

The Department has also agreed to the development and delivery of a significant new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland by the CSO. It will look in detail at the experience of sexual violence and abuse for both women and men in Ireland.

Property crime

The statistics show continued welcome decreases in property crime over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Burglary was down 36%, Robbery was down 18% and theft was down 20% compared to the previous 12 month period.

Noting the ongoing Winter Phase of Operation Thor, Minister McEntee said,

“This year’s Winter Phase of Operation Thor commenced on 1 October 2021 and will continue until March 2022. This Operation is designed to specifically tackle the increase in the number of burglaries and associated criminal activity that usually occurs in the winter months by undertaking targeted enforcement and preventative activity. This includes the Lock Up and Light Up public awareness campaign encouraging homeowners to protect their homes over the winter months.

I urge the public to please exercise caution and follow the simple crime prevention advice which An Garda Síochána provides to communities at garda.ie/en/crime-prevention/ in order to keep people safe and keep crime numbers low.”

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Further Temporary Extension Of Immigration Permissions.

Minister Helen McEntee announces further temporary extension of immigration permissions.

Helen McEntee TD
  • Applies to permissions due to expire between 15th January 2022 and 31st May 2022.
  • Extension applies to people with permissions extended under previous notices.
  • For permissions registered by the Immigration Service in Dublin and An Garda Síochána nationwide.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD, has today announced a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions to May 31st, 2022.

This applies to permissions that are due to expire between January 15th 2022 and May 31st 2022 and includes permissions that have already been extended by the previous eight temporary extensions since March 2020.

Announcing the measure, Minister McEntee said:

“This Christmas, because of the evolving COVID-19 situation and ongoing public health guidelines, many immigration customers may fear they will lose their current immigration permission because of the potential impact of restrictions on the delivery of our services.

To remove some of the worry and stress caused by this uncertainty, I want to reassure people whose immigration permissions are due to expire shortly that your legal status in the country will continue to be maintained. To do this, I am introducing a further automatic extension to May 31st, 2022 for anyone already holding a valid permission.

This extension will benefit those who cannot get an appointment to register or renew an existing permission. However, I encourage anyone who needs to renew an existing permission, particularly Dublin-based customers who can do so online, to do so and not to wait until May when demand will be very high.

To help meet the existing demand for first-time registration appointments in the Dublin region, my Department is introducing a new Freephone telephone booking system in January to ensure those who need an appointment can access one.”

Further details on the Freephone system will be available on www.irishimmigration.ie when the service begins. A new online booking system will also be launched early in 2022.

Customers in the State who are entitled to receive a new Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card may continue to use their current expired card to enable them to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022.

Adult customers who plan to travel abroad beyond January 15th 2022 should apply to renew their immigration permission and receive a new IRP card. Otherwise, they must secure a re-entry visa in Ireland before travelling or in an overseas visa office before returning.

The current suspension of the re-entry visa requirement for any minors travelling with a legally resident parent or guardian, a measure which benefits up to 6,000 children and their families, will continue in line with the new extension until May 31st 2022.

The Department’s immigration service is experiencing a high demand for services and the Minister and her officials continue to implement initiatives to deliver benefits for customers.

Further outlining the latest improvements, Minister McEntee said,

“From today, Dublin-based customers who have a new passport and who wish to renew an immigration permission will be able to upload their passport biodata page online instead of attending the Registration Office in Burgh Quay. This move will free up staff resources and improve the processing times for existing applications.”

Immigration staff are processing 1,000 first-time registrations every week in the Registration Office in Burgh Quay, which is the maximum allowed under current public health guidelines, and the office is open from Monday to Thursday 8:00am to 8:30 pm and Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm.

Dublin-based customers can renew a permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie

Renewals outside of the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau through the Garda Station network. Information on the contact details for all the registration offices outside Dublin is available at: www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory

International students

International English Language Students who have already completed the maximum number of three language courses may continue to work in line with the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) criteria until May 31st 2022, without enrolling in a further English language course.

However, they must register for a new qualifying immigration permission by May 31st 2022 to ensure they can remain in the State after that date.

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Minister McEntee Asks People To Consider Career in An Garda Síochána

Minister McEntee encourages people to think about career in An Garda Síochána ahead of new recruitment campaign.

  • Minister asks people in new Irish and minority communities to apply
  • New regulations remove requirement for applicants to be proficient in two languages
  • New Irish language strategy to be launched by An Garda Síochána
  • Vital that An Garda Síochána represents the Ireland of today

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today urged people, especially those in minority and new Irish communities, to consider a career in An Garda Síochána ahead of a new recruitment campaign opening early in the New Year.

In line with the Government’s commitment to strengthen and support An Garda Síochána as it protects and serves our communities, a new Garda Trainee Recruitment campaign is due to commence early in 2022.

The last recruitment competition was held in early 2019. Successful applicants are placed on a panel from which they are drawn by An Garda Síochána for training when required by the Garda Commissioner.

The Government has next year committed to the recruitment of 800 extra Gardaí and 400 Garda staff and is dedicated to increasing diversity within An Garda Síochána.

Minister McEntee today urged people, particularly those from new Irish and minority communities, to think over the Christmas break about applying to become a member of An Garda Síochána.

Minister McEntee said:

“As Minister for Justice, protecting communities and supporting victims is my absolute priority, and the Government’s support for An Garda Síochána reflects that commitment.

The greatest strength of An Garda Síochána is its bond with the communities it serves. Our own national life has been greatly enriched by so many new communities of different origin in recent decades.
But significant work is still required across the public sector – not least the justice sector – to make sure our new and minority communities are better represented, as well as to improve gender equality.
I want everyone in our society, such as our African-Irish and Traveller communities, to see members of their own communities serving in An Garda Síochána.

I know Commissioner Harris and all members of An Garda Síochána are dedicated to increasing diversity within the organisation. I have discussed this with the Commissioner and I am very pleased that a vigorous campaign will be launched by An Garda Síochána to encourage as many people as possible to apply.
Our new recruitment campaign provides a great opportunity to increase diversity within the service and I urge people from these communities to seriously think over Christmas about applying in the New Year.”

The Commission on the future of Policing in Ireland noted that diversity is a vital asset to any organisation that seeks to be innovative and adaptable.

The Minister made her comments after she received Cabinet approval this week for new regulations which will allow An Garda Síochána hold the new recruitment competition.

These new Regulations, amending the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013, will allow for a broader appeal for service with An Garda Síochána to reflect the increasing diversity of Irish Society.

In addition to technical amendments required to reflect changes in legislation from the Refugee Act 1996 to the International Protections Act 2015, the requirement for applicants to be proficient in two languages, one of which must be English or Irish, is also being changed.

As currently worded, the requirement for proficiency in two languages is acting as a barrier to more diverse recruitment.

Under the amended regulations, proficiency will only be required in one language – which can be English or Irish. This will remove any potential disadvantage for people not born in Ireland who do not have any experience with the Irish language.

An Garda Síochána remains committed to the Irish language and studies in the Irish language will remain part of the Policing BA. A new Irish Language Strategy has been developed by An Garda Síochána and will be launched early in 2022. The Strategy aims to strengthen Irish language services within An Garda Síochána and ensure compliance with statutory language obligations.

The Minister continued,

“I want these new regulations to send out a message and to encourage interest from all communities across Ireland in a career with An Garda Síochána. Of course, An Garda Síochána remains committed to the Irish language and I look forward to its new strategy.
I would also take this opportunity to encourage more women to apply for a career in An Garda Síochána.
In recent years we have made great strides to address the gender imbalance in An Garda Síochána, especially at the most senior levels, but I want to see more women entering the service, as I know they are fully capable and can make such a difference to their local community
“.

An Garda Síochána are working to produce a combined internal and external Equality, Diversity and Integration Strategy in early 2022.

Minister McEntee concluded,

“I welcome the many diversity initiatives being actively pursued by An Garda Síochána. The Intern Programme for Garda Staff, which aims to promote a career in An Garda Síochána among young people from communities traditionally underrepresented in the organisation by offering the opportunity of an internship, commenced on 30 November with the first 26 interns.
I am confident that this scheme will be a huge success and will demonstrate to all communities that there is a place for them in An Garda Síochána.”

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Person Arrested Following Garda Operation In Cashel, Co. Tipperary.

A Garda and Immigration Bureau operation was conducted in Cashel last evening (December 9th).

Officials from the Work Relations Commission; the Dublin based Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Cahir District Immigration Officer, inspected multiple business premises within the Cashel area.

During this joint agency operation, a number of offences were detected.
One person was detained, with Court case to follow.

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