81. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the position of Garda sergeant in Strokestown Garda station, County Roscommon has changed from a permanent to a roving position; if so, when the change occurred; the reason for the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16987/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this 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.
I am informed by the Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda Division. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly. In addition, as you will appreciate, in order to deliver an effective policing service, it is essential that Garda management has the flexibility to deploy Garda resources to meet operational policing needs and address critical issues as they arise. For this reason, the number of Gardaí available in any one Garda Station on a particular day is subject to the operational requirements of the overall Division.
In this regard, the Deputy will be aware that Strokestown Garda Station forms part of the Castlerea District. The Garda strength of the Castlerea District on 31 March 2019, the most recent date for which figures are available, was 90, including 18 Sergeants and 1 Inspector, of whom 4 Gardaí and 1 Sergeant are assigned to the Strokestown Garda station.
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.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,600 recruits have attested as members and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 18 of whom have been assigned to the Roscommon/Longford Division.
The Government has increased the budget by for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, which includes provision for the recruitment of up to 800 Gardaí this year. The Commissioner has informed me that he plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and he also intends to recruit 600 Garda Civilian Staff. This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019.
I believe that the injection of this large number of experienced officers into the field, along with the new recruits, will be really beneficial in terms of protecting communities. This and on-going recruitment will clearly provide the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí to deliver a visible effective and responsive policing service to communities across all Garda Divisions including the Roscommon/Longford Division.