CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
TOPICAL ISSUE DEBATE - Minister of State David Stanton TD
28 September 2016
Deputy Tony McLoughlin
On behalf of the Tánaiste who, unfortunately, cannot be here to day for this debate, I want to thank the Deputy for raising this important matter.
The Tánaiste is aware that a number of significant fire, health and safety issues have been identified at Sligo Garda station and believes that the necessary remedial action should be taken without delay to rectify the situation.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Office of Public Works has the primary responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation and works closely with the Garda authorities in this regard.
In this context, I understand that the Garda Authorities have made the Office of Public Works aware of the situation with a view to ensuring that remedial action is taken.
The Deputy will be aware of the significant efforts being made by Government to enhance the working environment generally for members of An Garda Síochána and of the major investment that has been committed under the Capital Plan 2016-2021 to upgrade Garda premises, the Garda fleet and Garda ICT infrastructure.
Indeed, the Programme for a Partnership Government also commits the Government to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to ensure a strong and visible police presence in the community. In summary, the Government is committed to—
- continuing the accelerated recruitment programme with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000;
- doubling the Garda Reserve; and
- increasing further civilianisation to free up more Gardaí to focus on frontline policing services.
The Programme also recognises that An Garda Síochána must also have the modern technology and other resources, including fit for purpose buildings, necessary to do their job and notes that the Capital Plan 2016-2021 secured resources in this regard.
In October 2015, the Tánaiste announced, in conjunction with the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, details of An Garda Síochána's Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016 – 2021, which includes over €60million of Exchequer funding as part of Government’s Capital Plan 2016 – 2021 as well as a major Public Private Partnership project, which will include the delivery of a new Garda station in Sligo.
Unfortunately, as the Tánaiste recently advised the Deputy, negotiations in relation to the acquisition by the Office of Public Works of a site originally identified for the purposes of the proposed new station in Sligo did not proceed to a successful conclusion and efforts will now be made to identify an alternative site for acquisition in order that the development can proceed.
The projects comprehended by the Building and Refurbishment Programme are in addition to the major projects currently underway, including the three Garda Divisional Headquarters under construction at Galway, Wexford Town and Kevin Street in Dublin, at a total cost of €100 million, which are scheduled for completion in late 2017 and early 2018.
This major investment underlines the Government’s commitment to the provision of a modern working environment for Gardaí as well as fit-for-purpose facilities for visitors, victims and suspects.
Returning to the situation in Sligo, the solution lies in the short-run in addressing the particular issues that have arisen in relation to the existing station and in the long-run in the construction of a new state of the art regional headquarters in Sligo. On behalf of the Tánaiste, I can assure the Deputy that she will do everything in her power to support both An Garda Síochána and the Office of Public Works in delivering solutions to both issues.