10. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with Garda resources in County Meath. [28904/18]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: As the Deputy will be well aware, the distribution of Garda personnel is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner. In this regard, Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources. By way of assistance to Deputy Byrne, I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of the Meath division is 310. There are also 16 Garda reservists and 30 Garda civilian staff attached to the division. When appropriate, the work of local gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the armed support units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
As I have told Deputy Byrne on other occasions, the Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, to provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime in County Meath and throughout the country. To make this a reality, the Government has in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021. This will include 15,000 Garda members. I am informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda training college in September 2014, almost 2,000 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Of this number, 64 members have been assigned to the Meath division. Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017, a net increase of more than 600 since the end of 2016. As Deputy Byrne will be aware, the increase in Garda numbers last year represented the first significant increase since numbers started falling in 2009. This has driven the level of recruitment that has seen the number of gardaí assigned to the Meath division increase from 281 to 310, an increase of 29 or 10% as of 31 May as compared to the end of 2014.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Funding is in place to ensure that the 2021 vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda recruits will enter the Garda training college, some 400 of whom have already done so. In total, 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during 2018, 400 of whom have attested to date. Furthermore, Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, are on track to reach 14,000 by the end of 2018. Undoubtedly, the investment in resources and the ongoing recruitment process will support all Garda activities and enable the Commissioner to provide additional resources to all Garda divisions, including the Meath division, in the coming years.