CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
7 March 2018
I would like to thank the Senator for raising this matter.
I should say at the outset that the distribution of Gardaí is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda Division including the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) South Central Division with a view to providing an effective and responsive police service.
I am further informed by the Commissioner that the overall strength of the DMR South Central Division as of the 31 January 2018 was 612. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí in the South Central Division is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the Armed Support Unit, the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
The Senator will be aware that the closure of the Garda College in 2010 and the moratorium imposed at that time had a negative impact on Garda numbers across all Divisions. Since the Government reopened the College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. 719 or 45% have been assigned to the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), of whom 141 were assigned to the DMR South Central Division.
The Senator will appreciate the challenges presented by gangland crime in the Dublin area have necessitated additional investment in the specialist units to enhance their capacity to support the fight against this scourge. I am advised by the Commissioner that extra Gardaí have over the last number of months been assigned to the specialist units including the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau which is particularly active in the fight against organised crime in the DMR. In addition, a dedicated Armed Support Unit for the DMR was established at the end of 2016 in order to enhance armed support capability in Dublin and to free up the resources of the Emergency Response Unit. I understand the allocation of resources to these units has affected disproportionally the number of Divisional Gardaí in the Dublin Region and this will be one of the factors taken into account by the Commissioner when considering the allocation of new Garda recruits. I am pleased to say that 200 new Gardaí will pass out of the Garda College next week and be assigned to locations around the country with a particular focus on the Dublin Region.
I can assure the House that the Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country including on the streets of the Capital 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 for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 including 15,000 Garda members.
Real, tangible progress has been made towards this goal. Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 - a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.
I am pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College - 200 of whom have already entered since 29 January. In total 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year 200 of which will attest next week, with Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, on track to reach 14,000 by the end of 2018.
Undoubtedly, the on-going recruitment process will support all Garda activities and enhance visibility within our communities and will enable the Commissioner to provide additional resources across the DMR, including the DMR South Central Division as new Garda recruits continue to come on stream.