33. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in each Garda station in counties Cavan and Monaghan as of 30 June 2017; and the number of new recruits assigned to the division since recruitment resumed in 2014. [32868/17]


Deputy Charles Flanagan: I assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. To make that a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.
This year, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves. Last Thursday a class of 198 Garda trainees attested as members of An Garda Síochána - the largest class to attest since the Garda College reopened in September 2014. That brings the number of new recruits who have attested since the college reopened to almost 1,200, with another 400 scheduled to attest later this year. That will bring Garda numbers to 13,500 by the end of this year. Once projected retirements are taken into account, that is an increase of 500 over last year. That is real progress on reaching our target of 15,000 members by 2021. This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. Deputy Brendan Smith will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government's Capital Plan 2016-2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and I have no doubt that the new resources now coming on stream will see an increase in Garda visibility in Cavan and Monaghan and across other communities.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources. She is mindful of the point raised by the Deputy. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review. I am informed by the Commissioner that 26 newly-attested gardaí have been assigned to the Cavan-Monaghan division since the college reopened.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House

It is not only politicians who are raising these concerns. The view is shared by organisations as diverse as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association and the Environmental Pillar. NGOs, business organisations and a range of civil society organisations came together last week in a major press conference to highlight their opposition to the CETA deal and their concerns. Their opposition was not to trade. That is an important point. However, there was firm and united opposition to the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement as the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau, arrived.
Obviously, there were great photo shoots with the Taoiseach and everything else, but the Taoiseach needs to be wary. That is why I do not want this to land on top of the Minister, Deputy Ring, some day. He might wonder why no one did anything or why no one shouted stop. A colleague from the Minister's area, John Healy, used to say that no one shouted stop. I believe that in the Minister we have someone in this area who has fine vocal cords. If John Healy were here now, he would say we have someone whom we believe will shout stop. That is why I am such a strong advocate and supporter of the Minister personally, and I always will be.
I want to highlight two points in the context of the debate on issues for rural Ireland. The Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Kyne, will be aware of these because he is from an agricultural background and has degrees and so on. He is well-up on this area. Only 5% of Canadian farmers produce nearly 50% of total Canadian food output. That is the scale of operator that Irish farmers will be competing against. In 2015, a Teagasc report estimated that 63% of Irish farms are already not economically viable. Of course, without the CAP payments they would not be.
Another major worry is Brexit. An amount of between €10 billion and €12 billion will be lost from the CAP budget. This corresponds to perhaps a 5% to 10% impact. That is going to be significant and it is another issue that has to be considered in this area.
There will be an increase in competition from these massive industrial-scale Canadian operations. That is what concerns me. That will always be to the detriment of the small farm holder or anyone else. Other EU trade agreements are being negotiated. This will have a devastating impact on small Irish farmers in particular. Consequently, it will have a knock-on effect on the fabric of rural society in Ireland. The shops, pubs and communities of rural Ireland are held together by these farms and these rural projects. I have already alluded to this.
Pressure for intensification will alter the character of the landscape and the patchwork system of fields that is so important to biodiversity. It will affect the hundreds of thousands of jobs reliant directly and indirectly on our landscape through our tourism industry. This will apply nowhere more than the Minister's area of Westport. The Minister and the area have had great success with the cycleway and everything else. Well done to the Minister in that regard. Westport is a vibrant thriving town, and long may it continue. I have visited it and I intend to visit it again over the summer. In fairness, people who criticise the Minister can only look at that.
I only wish we had something similar, although we have a greenway in Mullingar that runs from the Meath border through to Longford. It is excellent. I remember some people were not so positive. I remember when the then Minister, Deputy Kelly, gave us €950,000 to bring it from Coolnahay right through to the Longford border. The amount of people who utilise it is significant. There should be some grants to help people establish little tea houses and so on along the canal. Waterways Ireland should look at that. The body should help, assist and grant aid people to establish such facilities. I note Clare and Paddy Crinnigan do a great job in Coolnahay of providing teas and a stop-off there. They are excellent. They have Christmas lighting and so on and people come from hundreds of miles around to look at it. Well done to them. George Lloyd was a great help to them as well. It is critical to support and supplement the livelihood of those in rural Ireland in the tourism industry.
The effect of the financial exposure from the CETA investment court system will be significant. The system allows for businesses to sue governments outside our courts for damages for vast amounts. Earlier this year, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation admitted it had not even done a cost-benefit analysis on this. It did not do the analysis before the Government supported and signed the agreement at the European Council last October.
We have not even got over one bailout. Now we are going to be hit by something that I believe has the potential to be even bigger. When the Exchequer gets squeezed, we know how rural Ireland suffers because it is the poor relation. We want to ensure the pot we are entitled to is not squeezed further. Whatever about adding to the pot, we do not want the Exchequer to take the view that, once a squeeze comes, it should grab the money from CEDRA or the Leader programme or reduce the associated funding. We do not want another blank cheque for big business that the citizens of this State will have to foot the bill for. That is what concerns me about CETA.
The loss of sovereignty is a problem. Authority will pass from the Irish courts to an arbitration court outside the Irish jurisdiction for disputes between governments and mulitnationals. At a recent meeting in the European Parliament office in Dublin, a senior counsel and Queen's counsel who is a constitutional lawyer stated that, under the Constitution, the Government does not have authority to transfer power from the Irish courts to an arbitration court outside the country. Furthermore, he said that to do so would contravene a number of articles of the Constitution.
Throughout Europe there is widespread condemnation of the investment court system. Canadian subsidiaries of US-headquartered mulitnationals will be able to use CETA to sue European governments. There was a debate in the Seanad on this and Senator Alice-Mary Higgins said it could serve as a back door for more than 40,000 US companies. This is especially worrying for Europeans as US corporations dominate the Canadian economy. The legality of this is being questioned by the Association of European Administrative Judges, German magistrates and various professors of law in various counties as well by legal scholars.
We have to be vigilant. I have plenty of hope. I believe the Minister is the person to inspire that hope. I have no doubt that if we give the Minister the backing he deserves, we will get to a point where rural Ireland will get its fair share and will be on a level playing field. That is all we want.