Check against delivery
26 January 2017
To ask the Minister for Justice to make a statement on the reinstatement of the Gorey Garda District in line with the Programme for Government 2016 following the merger of the Gorey Garda District with the Enniscorthy Garda District in 2012.
Michael D'Arcy TD
Opening statement by Minister of State, David Stanton TD
on behalf of the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD
On behalf of the Tánaiste who, unfortunately, cannot be here today, I want to thank the Deputy for raising this important matter.
The Deputy will be aware that the Garda District and Station Rationalisation Programme, following the completion by An Garda Síochána of a comprehensive review of its district and station network, gave rise to the closure of some 139 Garda stations in 2012 and 2013 and the amalgamation of some 32 Districts into 16 larger districts.
That review was undertaken with the objective of identifying opportunities to introduce strategic reforms to enhance service delivery, increase efficiency and streamline practices within the organisation and concluded that a revised district and station network commensurate with the organisation’s resource base would best meet public demand.
The Tánaiste has been informed by the Garda authorities that the closures have allowed front line Gardaí to be managed and deployed with greater mobility, greater flexibility and in a more focused fashion, particularly with regard to various targeted police operations.
In November 2013, the Gorey District was amalgamated with the Enniscorthy District resulting in an enlarged Enniscorthy District and I understand that no station within the former Gorey District was closed.
The Garda authorities have confirmed to the Tánaiste that the District Officer at Enniscorthy, in conjunction with the Inspector at Gorey, ensures that the policing arrangements within the Gorey area are effectively managed on an ongoing basis and that there is no diminution in the policing service provided within the context of existing available resources in the area.
Local Garda Management also continues to closely monitor the allocation of resources to ensure that optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible policing service continues to be provided to the public and this situation will be kept under review.
Having said that, 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 Deputy will be aware that the Policing Authority has been asked to oversee a review of, among other things, the dispersement of Garda stations in rural areas, and in developing urban and suburban areas, with a view to ensuring both an efficient and optimum geographical distribution of stations and minimal response times, including taking account of station closures since 2012.
Of course, these measures cannot be viewed in isolation from the Government’s overarching commitment to ensuring 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 Deputy will be aware that, in July 2016, the Government approved the Tánaiste’s 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 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 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.