Equality and Family Law
- Introduced legislation for the holding of the Marriage Equality referendum. On May 23rd 2015 Ireland became the first country in the world to vote in a referendum to introduce an equal right to civil marriage for same-sex couples. In November, a signed commencement order for Marriage Act 2015 made Marriage Equality a legal reality in Ireland.
- Enacted the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 which provides for the most comprehensive reform of family law since the foundation of the State.
- Enacted the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 to protect LGBTI teachers and other employees in state-funded religiously-run institutions from discrimination.
- Working on the new Family Leave Bill to provide for the introduction of two weeks paternity leave
- Work progressing on new National Disability Inclusion Strategy and new National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy.
Investing in Policing, Tackling Crime
- Continued Garda recruitment; 550 currently in process, 600 more to be recruited in 2016.
- Continued substantial increase in investment in Garda vehicles - over €34 million invested since 2012 – over 720 new vehicles coming on stream since start of January 2015.
- A further €46m provided for new vehicles in Government Capital Programme 2016-2021.
- An additional €205 million allocated for Garda ICT in Government Capital Programme 2016-2021.
- Construction commenced on new divisional Garda HQ’s at Galway, Wexford and Kevin Street.
- Finalised and announced Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 benefitting 32 locations nationwide.
- Provided €1.75 million for upgrade to Garda aircraft surveillance equipment.
- Supported launch of Operation Thor, including by way additional allocation for Garda overtime.
- Enacted the Criminal Justice (Burglary of a Dwelling) Act to provide for tougher sentences for repeat burglars.
- Work progressing on new Bail bill to provide for stricter bail, strengthened powers for Gardaí and electronic tagging of offenders out on bail.
- Commenced operation of Ireland’s new DNA database.
- Secured a doubling of funding for Crimestoppers and Community Alert.
- Enacted the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Amendment Act 2015.
- Secured €4 million to commence introduction of Schengen II information sharing system in Ireland, to improve security and border control.
- Extended Garda Youth Diversion Projects to 10 new locations.
- Launch the Joint Agency Response to Crime interagency initiative to reduce reoffending.
- Work progressing on new Community Justice Intervention programme, in response to calls for Community Court.
- Announced planned reform to Firearms licensing following comprehensive series of consultations with key stakeholders.
- Commenced consultation on possible regulation of ‘Cash for Gold’ outlets.
- Established new cross-border Joint Agency Crime Taskforce.
- Instigated a review of effectiveness of Garda CCTV systems.
- Working with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government on legislative changes to greater align the liquor licensing and planning systems.
- Legislation enacted to establish the new independent Policing Authority on January 1st.
- €2.7 million allocated in Budget 2016 for the establishment of the Independent Policing Authority.
- Appointment of two Deputy Commissioners by open competition following similar open competition for appointment of Garda Commissioner in 2014.
- Enacted legislation to reform and strengthen the role and remit and operation of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) .
- Completed the Independent Review Mechanism.
- Established Section 109 enquiry by a Supreme Court judge into actions of GSOC.
- Worked closely with statutory agencies and victims advocacy groups to progress implementation of EU Victims Directive.
- Published head of Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill following extensive consultation with statutory agencies and victims advocacy groups.
- Supported establishment of dedicated Victim Support Offices in every Garda division.
- Oversaw process leading to the granting of a Posthumous Pardon to Harry Gleeson
- Ireland signed the Istanbul Convention
- Published Action Plan on implementation of Istanbul Convention in Ireland.
- Published heads of comprehensive new Domestic Violence bill.
Migration and Protection
- Enacted the new International Protection Act to reduce the length of time in the system through the establishment of a single applications procedure. New ground breaking legislation long since promised but delivered by the Minister.
- 16 citizenship ceremonies held and 13,500 persons granted Irish citizenship.
- Published the report of the Working on the Protection System & Direct Provision.
- Actively participated in the Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers to respond to the Migration Crisis facing Europe.
- Established the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) to meet Ireland’s international humanitarian obligations by accepting refugees under official relocation and resettlement programmes.
- Introduced new measures to address queue management at the Immigration Public Office in Burgh Quay.
- Actively engaged in Government taskforces to tackle abuse of the immigration system in the English Language School and Fisheries sectors.
- Announced extension of the British-Irish Visa Scheme to India
- Diplomatic visa waiver agreement between Ireland and China commenced.
- Work progressing on new Integration Strategy.
Courts and Legal Services
- Officially opened new Court of Appeal.
- Enacted the Legal Services Regulation Act to reform regulation and oversight of legal profession and legal costs.
- Established second Special Criminal Court.
- Enacted legislation to increase the number of High Court judges to address delays.
- Secured increased funding for Courts Service in 2016 to increase staffing and improve efficiencies.
- Published heads of the Criminal Procedures Bill to improve efficiencies in trials and court proceedings, including establishing Pre-Trial Hearings.
- Announced PP projects for the construction/redevelopment of seven courthouses at Mullingar, Limerick, Cork, Letterkenny, Drogheda, Wexford and Waterford.
- Announced additional PPP funding for Development of state-of-the-art Family Law and Children’s Courts complex at Hammond Lane
- Secured a further €10 million in exchequer funding for Courts building refurbishment.
- Continued implementing the recommendation of the Quirke report in full.
- To date nearly €23m has been paid out in lump sums to over 600 applicants under that scheme.
- Enacted the Redress for Women Resident in Certain Institutions Act 2015 to make provision for a broad range of health services free of charge.
- Published the Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU) on the operation of the fixed charge processing system (penalty points).
- Appointed Judge Matthew Deery to the new position of Independent Oversight Authority for the fixed charge processing system.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy
- Enacted the Personal Insolvency (Amendment) Act to provide for independent review by Courts in cases of the so-called ‘Bank Veto’.
- Enacted legislation to provide for one-year term of Bankruptcy and stricter penalties for non-cooperation.
- Enacted the Prisons Bill to legally provide for the closure of St. Patrick’s Institution
- Published the landmark report of the Inspector of Prisons on the culture and management of our prisons.
- Secured additional capital funding for the elimination of slopping out in the prisons estate; the completion of Limerick Prison and refurbishment work at Portlaoise.
Budget 2016 funding for other Agencies:
- €1.3 million in additional funding to recruit additional staff for Forensic Science Ireland.
- €1.3 million in increased funding to strengthen role of Charities Regulatory Authority.
- €1.3 million for additional staffing for Probation Service to help reduce reoffending.
- €1.6 million in increased resources for Legal Aid Board.
- €1.2 million budget increase for Office of Data Protection Commissioner.
Other legislation enacted or being progressed:
- Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act.
- Choice of Court (Hague Convention) Act.
- Civil Debt (Processes) Act – to end the imprisonment of debtors.
- Spent Convictions Bill.
- Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Bill.
- Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill. The bill will introduce a new model of Periodic Payment Order.
Organisational reform of the Department of Justice and Equality
- Implementation of new service level agreements and new structures to ensure better oversight and coordination of all agencies under the Department’s auspices
- Significant progress in developing the future vision of the Department’s organisational culture which better reflects the needs and aspirations of the people the Department serves and which supports the effective governance and oversight of the Department and the sector.
- Development of new HR and training policies;
- Introduction of new audit and risk management procedures;
- New post of Deputy Secretary General established and the filling of Assistant Secretary Posts;
- Major upgrade of the Department ICT system, including new cloud based initiatives enabling enhanced cross-organisational cooperation in the sector
- The introduction and implementation of a new protocol for the processing, tracking and monitoring of all correspondence to the Minister and Department.
Department of Justice and Equality