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Question

395. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice if she will outline her key policy achievements in her Department since 27 June 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32721/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): My Department has already made significant progress on the commitments set out in the Programme for Government. The Justice Plan 2021 was published earlier this year and outlines a wide range of actions under the Department's five strategic goals, which are:
1. Tackle crime, enhance national security and transform policing
2. Improve access to justice and modernise the courts system
3. Strengthen community safety, reduce reoffending, support victims and combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence
4. Deliver a fair immigration system for a digital age
5. Accelerate innovation, digital transformation and climate action across the justice sector
Under the Justice Plan 2021, I am progressing a suite of policy and legislative reforms which are priorities for me as Minister, in line with the various commitments set out in the Programme for Government.
My Department has made substantial progress on delivery reforms recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing, including publication of the landmark General Scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill, which provides for wide-ranging and coherent reform of policing by improving the performance and accountability of our policing and security services, and supporting the human rights of all people throughout Ireland to be and feel safe in their communities.
Further key actions to tackle crime include the publication earlier this year of the General Scheme of the Hate Crime Bill; the publication of the Hamilton Review and subsequent implementation plan on tackling white collar crime; delivering on Ireland’s successful connection to Schengen Information System (SIS II) which has already led to an increased number of arrests; and enactment of the Criminal Procedure Act 2021 will improve efficiencies in the criminal trial process, by introducing preliminary trial hearings for the first time.
The Peter Kelly Report, Reform of Civil Justice in the State has been published and we have also progressed work to reform the family justice system. Last September, Government approved the General Scheme of the Family Court Bill which will restructure the family justice system to enable jurisdictions in appropriate Courts. In parallel, the Family Justice Oversight Group are working to develop a new family justice system.
We have also published the General Scheme of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill which will replace the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board with a new Commission and established a Judicial Planning Working Group to work on judicial numbers over the medium term. On the issue of gambling reform, the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect in December 2020. Work is ongoing to established a gambling regulator.
Strengthen the safety of all communities is a cross-Government priority and we are establishing three pilots of Local Community Safety Partnerships (in Dublin’s North Inner City, Longford and Waterford) which will inform the roll-out of the new Community Safety model nationwide.
As the Deputy will know, we are making strides in providing greater supports to victims of crime, and combating domestic, sexual and gender based violence and have published and begun to implement Supporting a Victim’s Journey, our plan to implement the recommendations of the O’Malley Review. We have enacted Coco’s Law - the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act.
To support young people and divert them away from crime, a new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027 has been put in place and is being implemented; we have established an Anti-Social Behaviour Forum to bring forward proposals to tackle the issue of anti-social behaviour and have published the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences) Bill. I also expect to publish an implementation plan to deliver on the recommendations put forward in the Drogheda Scoping Report shortly.
In terms of developments in the immigration area, work on an end-to-end review of processes to guide enhanced processing times has been completed. We have announced draft proposals for a scheme to regularise thousands of undocumented migrants in Ireland and introduced a temporary system to enable citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty.
Of course it is important to note that all the above mentioned milestones and achievements are just a snapshot of the substantial programme of work being delivered on by my Department. The full Justice Plan 2021 is available at:
http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Department_of_Justice_Action_Plan_2021.pdf/Files/Department_of_Justice_Action_Plan_2021.pdf
I intend to publish regular reports outlining progress on these actions on my Department’s website and my Department will continue to work with our agencies and partners across the sector to receive feedback and ensure that the targets set out in the Plan are met. I look forward to publishing a mid-year report outlining progress in due course.