Check Against Delivery
Topical Issue Debate
8 November 2016
In the Programme for Government a review of the Garda districts nationwide was agreed and if the Minister for Justice make a statement on the matter and when will the review start.
Deputy Michael D’Arcy
On behalf of the Tánaiste who, unfortunately, cannot be here today, I want to thank the Deputy for raising this important matter.
the Government has, in its Programme for a Partnership Government, recognised community policing as the embodiment of An Garda Síochána, providing a means of recognising that every community, both urban and rural, has its own concerns and expectations. It commits the Government to ensuring visible, effective and responsive policing in every community, including the most minimal response times possible.
In support of this objective, the Tánaiste has asked the Policing Authority to oversee a review of, among other things, both the boundaries of Garda districts and the dispersal of Garda stations in rural areas.
I understand that the Authority has, in accordance with section 117(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, formally requested the Garda Síochána Inspectorate to examine the dispersal and use of resources available to the Garda Síochána in the delivery of policing services to local communities and to make recommendations to provide a more effective, visible and responsive policing service.
The Authority has informed the Inspectorate that the review should take account of:
- the changing environments in rural, developing urban and suburban areas;
- the views of local communities;
- the allocation to and deployment of Garda resources at the local policing level, including the use of the Garda Reserve, Garda facilities and Garda equipment; and
- relevant recommendations made in previous Inspectorate reports.
The Tánaiste looks forward to receiving the review from the Authority and I am informed that it should be available within 12 months.
Separately, the Programme also commits the Government to launching a pilot scheme to reopen 6 Garda stations, both urban and rural, to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order. Accordingly, the Tánaiste has requested the Garda Commissioner, while fully cognisant of her statutory functions in relation to the distribution of Garda resources in the State, to identify for reopening 6 stations.
The Government’s overarching commitment is to ensure a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. In furtherance of this, the Tánaiste recently announced that the Government had approved her proposal for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, 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. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.
In addition, Government’s Capital Plan 2016-2021 provides €205 million for investment in Garda ICT infrastructure and some €46 million for investment in the Garda Fleet.
Taken together, I believe that Authority’s Review, in conjunction with the above measures, reinforce the Government’s commitment to enabling significant reform in An Garda Síochána and to providing a high profile and visible policing service for our communities.