Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Leaders' Questions (Resumed).
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
The Minister for Education and Science informs me that the 800 teachers are involved solely in language training and have no other duties. In schools of under 14 pupils, a grant will be given towards obtaining the relevant services.
I will raise the issue of FÁS with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, but I understand from the FÁS director general that there has been a large take-up of FÁS courses by immigrants. I am not sure about the language training element, but I will check that. There is a large take-up of adult literacy and language classes by immigrants throughout the country, particularly in the greater Dublin area.
On the credit issue, I am unaware of any scheme with the credit unions, but I will ask for the matter to be checked.
On the immigration service, we approved the establishment of the Irish naturalisation and immigration service last year and appointed a director general last summer. That service operates as a one-stop shop for immigration purposes. It has an immigration integration unit to promote and co-ordinate social and organisational measures across a spectrum of Departments, which work in a group to co-ordinate Government actions in these areas for the acceptance of lawful immigrants into Irish economic and cultural life.
I am not aware of the exact number of gardaí in question, but the Garda has a policy of positive discrimination in terms of accepting a number of recruits from the immigrant population so that the Garda Síochána will comprise immigrants who can deal with people in their communities who have difficulties or get into trouble with the law.
The main effort must be in integration, but there are problems. The last anti-racism advertising campaign was held last year that featured a number of high profile Irish personalities in sport and the arts to try to encourage people to be pro-immigration.