18. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the strength of An Garda Síochána is adequate to meet the challenges of organised crime; if particular issues have arisen that may require extra attention in the time ahead; if changes to the bail laws have resulted in an improvement in respect of recidivism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21145/19]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: Tackling organised crime is an ongoing priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána and I am keen to ensure that necessary and appropriate resources continue to be made available. The manner in which the resources of An Garda Síochána are deployed, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team. I am informed by the Commissioner that the additional resources coming on stream have enabled him to assign extra resources to specialist units involved in tackling organised crime, including the Armed Support Units, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the Criminal Assets Bureau. Since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014, just under 2,400 Garda recruits have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 800 new gardaí during 2018.
A total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána this year, an increase of more than €100 million on the allocation for last year. The Commissioner plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee gardaí this year and, in addition, it is his intention to recruit a net 600 Garda civilian staff. This Garda staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained gardaí from administrative duties to front-line policing this year. 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. Deputy Durkan will be aware that recent changes to the bail laws were introduced in the Criminal Justice Act 2017 with the aim of strengthening the bail system and making the law as effective as possible in protecting the public against crimes committed by persons on bail.