21. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in County Donegal in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11971/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Firstly I would like to reiterate for the house that with regard to the deployment of Garda resources, including personnel, to specific areas, the Deputy will appreciate that this is solely the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and his management team. The Commissioner has publicly spoken about issues like protecting our most vulnerable and he has highlighted that his priority is a policing model that will provide the best outcomes for communities.
The distribution of Garda resources is constantly monitored and a distribution model is used that takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and overall policing needs at local level. Is is then a matter for the Divisional Chief Superintendent to determine the optimum distribution of duties among the personnel available to him or her having regard to the profile of the area and its specific needs. This applies equally in both rural and urban areas.
I would emphasise that it is not appropriate to simply determine the allocation of Garda resources on the basis of any single metric, such as population, as that would fail to take account of, among other things, the fact that crime levels and types can vary significantly in communities of similar population size.
I am informed by the Commissioner that on 31 January 2019, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the strength of the Donegal Division was 409. There are also 13 Garda Reserves and 38 Civilians 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.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I was pleased to attend the attestation ceremony last Friday where over 200 probationer Gardaí attested, of whom 15 members will be allocated to the Donegal Division.
I am further informed that it is the Commissioner's intention to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 along with a net 600 Garda staff. The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy this year a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to the frontline duties for which they are trained. 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.
Furthermore, the Commissioner has been provided with an additional €100 million in 2019 bringing his total budget to almost €1.8 billion. This substantial investment will allow the accelerated recruitment programme to continue in tandem with the deployment of new and leading edge technology to support our front line Gardaí in carrying out their work of delivering a visible, effective and responsive police service to communities across all Garda Divisions, including the Donegal Division in 2019 and future years.
The following table sets out the strength of the Donegal Division from 2009 to 31 January 2019, the latest date for which figures are currently available.
Strength of the Donegal Division 2009 to 2019*