Thursday, 7 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
I thank the Deputy for raising this issue which has understandably been a topic of debate this week and last, given the horrific intimidation and brutal kidnapping, assault and torture of Kevin Lunney. I reiterate the support of the Government and the House for Kevin and his family and, indeed, all who work in the broader Quinn group. I too was a little surprised that Deputy Micheál Martin referred to the Border area as "lawless", but this is not a time for party political point scoring. Members of the House need to work together to support the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, and the Garda, working with the PSNI and communities to bring an end to intimidation and to secure arrests. We need to put resources in place to do that. The Minister and the Taoiseach met the Garda Commissioner and senior Quinn directors, and the Minister met Kevin Lunney.
Significant resources have been put in place in Border regions in recent times. Garda deployment in all areas of the country, and the northern region in particular, has benefited from increased Garda recruitment over the past three years. Due to Government funding, Garda strength in the northern region has increased to approximately 1,500, an increase of 150 since 2017. These gardaí are supported by approximately 160 civilians in the region, compared with 116 at the end of 2016. As of 30 September, 373 gardaí were assigned to the Cavan-Monaghan division, supported by 47 Garda staff and eight reserves.