187. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19671/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The General Scheme of a Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 was approved by the Government on 6 March 2018. The General Scheme has been published on my Department’s website. The Bill has now been referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting. The General Scheme has also been referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny. 
When drafted, the C...

183. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has met with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport or his own officials recently regarding the comments made by the European Commission on the Judicial Appointments Bill 2017 not being in line with European standards; and his views on these comments. (Question 14156/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy is referring to the comments of the European Commission in their ‘Country Report Ireland 2018’ published as part of the European Semester on 7 March last, which state the following: 
“The envisaged composition of a new body for proposing judicial appointments raises concerns regarding the level of participation of the judiciary in that body. The proposed composition of the Judicial Appointments Commission, which would compri...

334. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce hate crime legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9819/18 asked on 27 Feb 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Government is committed to ensuring that the legislative tools are in place to address racism and xenophobia in all forms.
Under Irish law, hate crime is addressed through both the Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, and also through the wider criminal law.
The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 includes offences of incitement to hatred on account of race, religion, nationality, ethnic or sexual orientation. In brief, it is a...

340. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 278 of 30 January 2018, if he has read the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality; the status of the preparation a new Communications (Retention of Data) Bill; the timeframe for its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9900/18 asked on 27 Feb 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2017 was received in my private office on 5 February last. 
I have read the Committee’s report and I am in the process of considering the recommendations made to see whether changes are required to be made to the Bill, which is currently with the Office of the Parliamentar...

187. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of legislation to create a specific offence of interfering with life-saving equipment such as defibrillators and lifebuoys; the engagement he has had with groups (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 4850/18 asked on 31 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): A Private Member’s Bill, entitled the Life Saving Equipment Bill 2017, which provides for a specific offence of interfering with life saving equipment such as defibrillators and certain marine safety devices, including lifebuoys, was introduced in Seanad Éireann on 5 July 2017. Second Stage of the Bill was taken on 23 January 2018 where the principles of the Bill, and issues it raises, were discussed.
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278. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date on replacing the Communications Retention of Data Act 2011; if it will be assigned to the relevant Oireachtas committee for pre legislative scrutiny; if the European Court of Justice has set a deadline for a new Bill to be enacted in view of the fact that without new legislation it may impact on certain legal cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3979/18 asked on 30 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): On 3 October 2017 the Government approved my proposals for a new Communications (Retention of Data) Bill to replace the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011.  
In accordance with procedures in place, I wrote to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on 3 October 2017 to ask it to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of the general scheme for the new Communications (Retention of Data) Bill. 
The Committee has heard submis...

305. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if mechanisms will be included in the forthcoming coroners (amendment) Bill to allow for challenges to the scope of an inquest. (Question 4238/18 asked on 30 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 305 to 307, inclusive, together.
I intend in the forthcoming Coroners (Amendment) Bill to provide for an extension of the current  scope of investigation at an inquest, from investigating the immediate cause of death to looking also at the wider circumstances in which the person died. This extension is justified in the public interest and to better fulfil our obligations under the European Convention o...

306. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if mechanisms will be included in the forthcoming coroners (amendment) Bill that will require the coroner to publish his or her decision regarding the scope of an inquest. (Question 4239/18 asked on 30 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 305 to 307, inclusive, together.
I intend in the forthcoming Coroners (Amendment) Bill to provide for an extension of the current  scope of investigation at an inquest, from investigating the immediate cause of death to looking also at the wider circumstances in which the person died. This extension is justified in the public interest and to better fulfil our obligations under the European Convention o...

307. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to insert a requirement that all coroners have a medical qualification as part of the forthcoming coroners (amendment) Bill. (Question 4260/18 asked on 30 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 305 to 307, inclusive, together.
I intend in the forthcoming Coroners (Amendment) Bill to provide for an extension of the current  scope of investigation at an inquest, from investigating the immediate cause of death to looking also at the wider circumstances in which the person died. This extension is justified in the public interest and to better fulfil our obligations under the European Convention o...

97. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the Gambling Protection Bill will be enacted; the timeframe for the office of the proposed gambling regulator as set out in the Bill to be set up; the number of staff that will be employed in this office; the expertise required of these staff; the way in which they will be recruited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3661/18 asked on 24 Jan 2018 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I take it that the Deputy is referring to the proposed Gambling Control Bill. 
The Government, on 10 January, 2018, approved the updating of the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill. The proposed updating follows on from the review work undertaken in the Department of Justice and Equality over the past year and consultations with interested stakeholders. Changes to the Scheme will be subject to furthe...

88. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce legislation to allow groups of persons who have been wronged to take collective action cases in the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51733/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): In replying to this Question from Deputy Ó Laoghaire, account must be taken of the fact that he has, in his capacity as a Member, introduced a Private Member’s Bill in support of the introduction of group or class actions before the courts, in this House on 9 November 2017. The Bill, entitled the Multi-Party Actions Bill 2017, was taken for Second Stage in the Dáil on Tuesday 14 November 2017. On that occasion the Deputy and other Memb...

94. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which the right to work will be restricted for refugees in terms of the category of work and or timeframes; and the date on which the new provisions will apply to allow refugees to begin to work. (Question 51751/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): All persons granted refugee status in Ireland have the right to work on the same basis as Irish nationals.  Under Section 16(3)(b) of the International Protection Act, 2015, an applicant for international protection (asylum seeker/applicant for subsidiary protection) is prohibited from accessing or seeking to access the labour market while their application is being determined. 
On 30 May last, the Supreme Court judgment in the case of...

280. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to bring forward the passenger name record Bill 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49211/17 asked on 21 Nov 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): A draft General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Passenger Name Record) Bill is currently being finalised in consultation with relevant Government Departments with a view to shortly seeking Government approval for formal drafting of the legislation.
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123. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the Domestic Violence Bill 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48467/17 asked on 16 Nov 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 is awaiting resumption of Committee Stage in the Seanad.  The Deputy will understand that it is not possible for me to predict the outcome of the legislative process with regard to this or any other Bill.  However, my aim is that the Bill will be enacted as soon as possible.
 ...

262. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the introduction of new sexual offences legislation and the drafting of a domestic violence bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 41818/17 asked on 03 Oct 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As Minister for Justice and Equality I am committed to doing all that I can to combat sexual and domestic violence.
I welcome the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 in February of this year. This wide ranging piece of legislation gives additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in society as it contains provisions combating the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Included in the prov...

797. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to legislate to reform the archaic laws of maintenance and champerty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 27696/17 asked on 20 Jun 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will know, maintenance is the giving of financial assistance or encouragement to a party to litigation by a person who has neither an interest in the litigation nor any motive recognised by the law as justifying interference and champerty is an aggravated form of maintenance as it involves the support of litigation by a non-party in return for a share of the proceeds. The Statute Law Revision Act 2007 specifically retain...

78. Deputy James Lawless asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an overview of the general scheme of the Data Protection Bill. (Question 24354/17 asked on 23 May 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Dara Murphy): The General Scheme of the Data Protection Bill is available on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality: www.justice.ie. It has also been forwarded to the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality for pre-legislative examination.
The principal objective of the draft Bill is to give further effect to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), i.e. Regulation(EU) 2016/679 of 27 April 2016, to transpos...

107. Deputy John Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her Department’s rationale for not advancing the facilitation of the Coroners Bill 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 24039/17 asked on 23 May 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will be aware that Deputy Clare Daly proposed a Private Members Bill, entitled the Coroners Bill 2015, to address issues with regard to the investigation into maternal deaths. The proposals contained in this Bill would introduce mandatory reporting, post-mortem examinations and inquests into any maternal death. Deputy Daly’s Bill also proposed the extension of the current scheme of legal aid to next of kin in ...

92. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will consider making an appropriate legislative amendment to enable the same maternity leave and paternity benefits to be made available for mothers that have babies through surrogacy (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19396/17 asked on 02 May 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton) (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware, surrogacy is not currently recognised under Irish legislation. However, I have been advised that my colleague, the Minister for Health is currently preparing legislative proposals on assisted human reproduction and associated issues, which will include provisions relating to surrogacy. It is envisaged that the General Scheme of a Bill will be completed by the...

78. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when she will introduce the family court Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18417/17 asked on 12 Apr 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government is committed to significant reform of the courts, including the establishment of a family law court structure that is streamlined, more efficient, and less costly.
My Department is working on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will op...

79. Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the projected cost of the implementation of the family court Bill. (Question 18418/17 asked on 12 Apr 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government is committed to significant reform of the courts, including the establishment of a family law court structure that is streamlined, more efficient, and less costly.
My Department is working on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will op...

157. Deputy John Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to implement any further amendments and-or legislation in relation to the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 4767/17 asked on 01 Feb 2017 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The position is that the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2011 was enacted with the primary purposes of reforming the law relating to the ownership and management of common areas of multi-unit developments and facilitating the fair, efficient and effective management of owners’ management companies (OMCs). These are companies registered under the Companies Act, the members of which are the owners of residential units within ...

91. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will bring forward additional legislation to tackle issues surrounding convicted murderers serving consecutive life sentences; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36945/16 asked on 29 Nov 2016 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment, as provided by section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1990. A sentence of life imprisonment means that the prisoner is subject to that sentence for the rest of his or her life. Such a prisoner has no right to be released early at any stage. If granted temporary release, the prisoner remains subject to the life sentence and can be recalled to prison at any stage.
A...

123. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Mortgages Special Court Bill/Courts (Mortgage Arrears) Bill as per the legislative programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35810/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can confirm to the Deputy that the preparation of the Mortgages Special Court Bill/Courts (Mortgage Arrears) Bill is under way.
My Department is in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, having regard to the constitutional and legal aspects arising, as indicated in the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness published last July.
As the Deputy will be aware, priority was given to getting the...

135. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill, heads of which were published in 2015. (Question 35909/16 asked on 22 Nov 2016 - Proposed Legislation)

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Government approved the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill in July 2015. This landmark new Bill will introduce for the first time statutory rights for victims of crime. The Bill is being drafted as a priority and I expect to publish it during the current Dáil session.
The Bill will transpose into Irish law Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and pro...