CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Topical Issue Debate 

8 November 2017

Garda resources in Stamullen and Gormanstown, County Meath

Deputy Thomas Byrne       
    
I am speaking on behalf of the 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. 

Firstly I would like to offer my sympathies to the two teenagers who were attacked on the road leading to Gormanstown railway station on Sunday evening.  I wish them a speedy recovery and I ask anyone who can be of assistance to An Garda Síochána in relation to this deplorable attack to contact them immediately.  

The Minister understands that Gardaí from Laytown Garda Station responded to this incident and were assisted by members of An Garda Síochána from Balbriggan and Ashbourne Garda Station, along with two mobile units from the Regional Armed Support Unit.  The Minister is advised that with assistance from the public, An Garda Síochána are making significant progress with their investigation.
 
The Minister is informed by the Garda authorities that a number of incidents including robberies of mobile phones; assaults; thefts and general anti-social behaviour have recently occurred in the Stamullen and Gormanston areas. Local Garda management has established an Incident Room in Laytown Garda Station and all of these incidents are being fully investigated.    In addition, extra patrols under Operation Thor are being provided in the Stamullen and Gormanston areas to assist local Gardaí.  

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and the Minister has no direct role in the matter. 

I can assure the Deputy that this Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

The Minister is informed by the Commissioner that the Garda strength of the Meath Division, on 30 September 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 293. There are also 16 Garda Reserves and 29 civilians attached to the Division. 

The Minister is further informed by the Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 46 of whom have been assigned to the Meath Division. In addition, another 200 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest latter this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.    

This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána.  We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Meath Division, in the coming years.