181. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason employees holding prison administration and support officer grades are deemed ineligible to apply for vacancies for Civil Service grades in her Department; her views on altering the rules to permit such applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5309/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): In common with all other civil servants, Prison Administration and Support Officer (PASO) grades may compete for vacancies in the Civil Service through open competition or through confined interdepartmental competition, and would, therefore, be eligible to fill vacancies in my Department that fall to be filed from such competitions.
The PASO grades are staff of the Irish Prison Service and are not part of my Department's promotion pool. Therefore, the staff concerned are not eligible to apply for competitions confined to staff within that promotion pool. Similar eligibility arrangements apply to staff of other parts of the justice family, including the Courts Service, the Garda Síochána, the Property Registration Authority, the Legal Aid Board or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. It is an established practice across the Civil Service for different Departments or Bodies to operate a promotion pool restricted to their own staff.
The PASO grades are new grades in the Prison Service specifically designed to carry out the administrative and support duties required for the operation of a modern and efficient service. There are three grade levels for the PASO, starting at Grade 3 and progressing to Grade 1. The circulars used to fill PASO posts made it clear that the PASO grades were posts in the Prison Service. The circulars also confirmed that those appointed to the grades were civil servants but with specific terms and conditions including their assignment to a prison campus and in a uniformed capacity.