Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Justice if short stay family visit visas are currently being issued to non-EU citizens; if not, when the service will resume; and if consideration will be given to granting short stay family visit visas to non-EU citizens who are fully vaccinated. [43199/21]
531. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Justice when the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service will resume processing short stay exam visas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43201/21]
532. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice if all aspects of the Parole Act 2019 have been enacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43204/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): The establishment of the Parole Board on a statutory footing is a priority action under Justice Plan 2021 and is a key commitment in the Programme for Government.
The Deputy will wish to note that the relevant legislation was enacted in July 2019 and last month I announced the commencement of the Parole Act and the establishment of the new Parole Board.
The purpose of the Act is to place the parole process on a statutory footing and establish an independent, statutory Parole Board to decide on parole applications. The Act sets out clear and transparent criteria for how the Board will reach its decisions, which will be independent of the Minister of the day.
The Act was commenced, in full, on the 30 July and 31 July was designated as the establishment day for the new Parole Board.
The commencement of the Act means that the time which must be served by a life-sentence prisoner before being considered for parole has increased from 7 to 12 years. It is worth noting however, that over the past 10 years the average sentence served by a life sentenced prisoner before being released on parole was 18 years and in 2019 it was 20 years.