32. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he remains satisfied with the adequacy of resources available to An Garda Síochána to assist in the fight against organised crime; the extent to which adequate intelligence remains at the disposal of An Garda Síochána; if particular issues have arisen that may require further attention in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11806/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Tackling organised crime activity and those involved in it is an ongoing priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána and the necessary resources will continue to be made available to address this issue.
An Garda Síochána is tackling organised criminal activity through a range of targeted measures designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations. These measures include utilising, to the greatest extent possible, advanced analytical and intelligence methodologies.
The tackling of organised criminality is achieved through the use of focused intelligence-led operations by Garda specialist units, including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the National Economic Crime Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations. When required, support from the Security and Intelligence Section is also available. These specialist units also work closely with the Criminal Assets Bureau in targeting criminality.
Multi-disciplinary approaches are used by An Garda Síochána to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise are effectively targeted. Such approaches also include the use of money-laundering legislation and the powers available to the Criminal Assets Bureau under the proceeds of crime legislation.
Garda operational responses to gang-related crime in Dublin are coordinated under Operation Hybrid. As of 13 January 2019, there have been 86 arrests in relation to gang-related killings and 3 persons convicted of murder with life sentences imposed. In addition, 290 searches have been undertaken, 37 firearms have been seized and over 17,000 lines of enquiry conducted. In excess of 73,000 high visibility checkpoints have been implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units and a significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence is also being examined. Operation Hybrid is reviewed on a weekly basis to maintain optimal impact.
A number of arrests were made in the UK recently on foot of investigations, supported by An Garda Síochána, into the supply of drugs and firearms in Ireland and the UK. There were also a number of significant drug seizures made by An Garda Siochana in recent weeks.
I am assured by the Garda authorities that the international frameworks for cooperation in criminal matters are being utilised. An Garda Síochána also maintains close liaison with a range of other law enforcement agencies internationally and the work of Garda liaison officers who are permanently based in other jurisdictions and in international bodies such as Interpol and Europol, greatly facilitate the prompt exchange of information and intelligence on criminal activity.
The manner in which the resources of An Garda Síochána are deployed, including personnel, is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard. However, I am informed by the Commissioner that the additional resources coming on stream have enabled him to assign extra resources to the specialist units, including the Armed Support Unit, Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 2,400 Garda recruits have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 800 new Garda during 2018.
A total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, an increase of over €100 million on the 2018 allocation. This includes provision for the recruitment of up to 800 Gardaí this year. The Commissioner plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí and 600 Garda Civilian Staff in 2019. The recruitment of the additional civilian staff will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí in 2019 from administrative duties to the frontline policing duties for which they were trained.
The Garda Commissioner has confirmed that the Government's commitment to increase the overall strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members will be achieved by the target date of 2021.