CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Topical Issues Debate
28 June 2016
To discuss recent assaults on members of the public in the Rathfarnham Garda District area
Deputy John Lahart
I am speaking on behalf of Minister for Justice and Equality who regrets that he cannot be present due to other official commitments. He is grateful to the Deputy for raising this matter in the House today.
The Minister is aware of recent reports about serious assaults occurring in the Rathfarnham area. Such crimes are of course very shocking and clearly, they have a strong impact on the local community, both in terms of the fear of crime in the area and overall community morale.
I hope the Deputy will appreciate that the policing response to such crimes, including the deployment of Garda resources at local level, is a matter for the Garda authorities in the first instance. In this regard, I am sure that the Deputy will understand that it would be inappropriate to enter into any detailed discussion of particular incidents which may be the subject of an ongoing investigation by An Garda Síochána.
However, the Minister is advised that Garda management carefully monitors the incidence of crime in local areas and that Garda resources are deployed in response to changing crime trends. This may include overt high-visibility patrolling as well as covert Garda operations to target particular situations or persons suspected of engaging in criminal activity.
At the heart of the concerns about these sorts of crimes is the relationship between communities and their local Gardai. It is worth recalling that the Programme for a Partnership Government underlines the importance of community policing in responding to the concerns and expectation of both urban and rural communities.
The Minister is advised that it remains a key priority for An Garda Síochána to tackle public disorder and anti-social behaviour by working with communities to reduce this type of behaviour and to enhance community safety. This approach includes a strong focus on quality of life issues and collaboration with local authorities to help address the causes of anti-social behaviour. Gardai engage in a range of partnership approaches with communities to address local concerns as well as participating in more formal structures such as Joint Policing Committees which have an important role in developing strategies to tackle issues of local concern.
For its part, the Government remains committed to supporting An Garda Síochána in tackling crime and protecting communities. Under the Government’s Capital Plan 2016 – 2021, €46 million is being invested in a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose Garda fleet. In 2016 alone, some 520 new vehicles came on stream to ensure that the Gardaí are mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
Furthermore, some €330 million, including €205 million under the Capital Plan, is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure to allow Gardai to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies in responding to crime in all its forms.
In particular, the Government is pursuing its plans to increase Garda numbers and provide enhanced front-line policing. Plans are in place to achieve a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising of 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserves and 4,000 civilians.
All of these measures will undoubtedly enhance policing responses to crime incidents and benefit all communities across the country.