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Question

527. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Justice the status of programme for Government commitments (details supplied); if they have been completed; if not, the timeline on their progress; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48004/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has made significant progress on the commitments set out in the Programme for Government to date. The details requested are outlined in tabular form below.

Programme for Government Commitment Update
Enact a Family Court Bill to create a new dedicated Family Court within the existing court structure and provide for court procedures that support a less adversarial resolution of disputes. In September 2020, the Government approved the drafting of a Family Court Bill to provide for the establishment of a District Family Court, Circuit Family Court and a Family High Court as divisions within the existing court structures. The General Scheme of the Bill, which has been published, is awaiting pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice. The drafting of the Bill will be progressed as a matter of urgency, with a view to the Bill being published by the end of February 2022.
Build a new Family Law Court building in Dublin and ensure that court facilities across the country are suitable for family law hearings so these hearings can be held separately from other cases. Construction of a purpose-built Family Law Court complex at Hammond Lane is a key project in the National Development Plan. The Courts Service recently completed a preliminary business case for the Hammond Lane project in accordance with the requirements of the Public Spending Code. The preliminary business case was approved by the Courts Service Board at its meeting on 1 June and has been sent to my Department for consideration in conjunction with the preliminary business case for development of two Garda stations. Current time-frames, allowing for procurement which would be undertaken by the National Development Finance Agency, planning, and other activities would see construction commencing in 2023 and completing in early 2026.
Examine increasing the age limit for the application of the Garda Youth Diversion Programme to 24 years old. This is being progressed as a deliverable under the Youth Justice Strategy. Following initial work by interagency oversight groups, a discussion paper will be published shortly to support a public consultation process which will inform further development of proposals, including potential pilot approaches in the community.
Criminalise adults who groom children to commit crimes. The General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences) Bill, which will outlaw the grooming of children into crime, was published on 15 January 2021. Pre-legislative scrutiny was conducted by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice on 25 May and the Committee's report was received on 7 July. The Bill is currently being drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.
In addition, the Greentown initiative is piloting community-based approaches in two locations to assist children who are under the coercive control of criminal groups and their families.
Extend the pilot schemes of the Joint Agency Response to Crime to more areas to target prolific repeat and vulnerable offenders aged 16 -21. The Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC) programme has had success managing prolific offenders and the Programme for Government includes a commitment to extend the pilot scheme of the programme to more areas to target prolific repeat and vulnerable offenders aged 16-21. There has been significant structural change to the oversight of multi-agency offender management programmes recently, in line with commitments made in the Justice Action Plan 2021. The further development of the JARC programme will be informed by this ongoing work as well as the formal evaluation of current initiatives. The two existing Y-JARC (Youth JARC) pilots are being evaluated and the outcome will inform further development, aligned with the broader suite of programmes and interventions set out in the Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027.
Examine approaches to identifying at-risk young people and vulnerable groups to interrupt their potential trajectory into problem drug and alcohol misuse. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has responsibility for this Programme for Government commitment.
Create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents meeting specified criteria to regularise their status within 18 months of the formation of the Government, bearing in mind European Union and Common Travel Area commitments. My Department continues to work on details of the proposed scheme for the regularisation of long-term undocumented migrants and their dependents, further to consultation undertaken with relevant stakeholders. It is our intention to launch the scheme before the end of this year, as committed, further to agreement by the Government on the proposed approach.
Enact legislation that encompasses relevant EU measures and the UN Protocol against the smuggling and trafficking of migrants. The Criminal Justice (Smuggling of Persons) Bill 2021 was published on the 27th August 2021. The Bill completed Second Stage in Seanad Éireann on 29th September 2021 and Committee Stage is scheduled for 7th October 2021. It is hoped that the Bill will be enacted by year end.

Justice Plan 2021 sets out a schedule of actions required to deliver on all relevant Programme for Government commitments as well as those contained in other Government strategies. A mid-year progress report on Justice Plan 2021 was published in June, 2021 and is available here:
www.gov.ie/en/publication/da0c1-department-of-justice-action-plan-2021-mid-year-progress-report/
A further progress report will be published at the end of the year.