Thursday, 7 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
I will address the resources issue first. The Border region has been prioritised by the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice and Equality. We have seen more Garda vehicles, more Garda personnel, more civilians working alongside gardaí in stations and in administration, more Garda reservists, and the setting up of an armed support unit for An Garda Síochána. We have had the personal engagement of the Minister and the Commissioner with people who have been subject to totally unacceptable intimidation. Resources are being focused on the Border counties and we have probably a closer level of co-operation with the PSNI than we have ever had in the past. We need to continue that priority focus until we deal with some of the issues that all parties in the House have been commenting on and angered by in recent weeks.
However, even in the context of the intimidation in recent years, the Garda has clarified that a number of arrests have been made in connection with the incidents relating to employees and property of QIH, and files have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP. No charges have been directed at this time in respect of those investigations, but they are still ongoing.
I assure the Deputy that this is a high priority right at the top of Government. I am conscious of the concerns over jobs that are potentially at risk if we cannot deal with the policing challenges here. However, I assure the Deputy that the Government will continue to focus on successful prosecutions of people who belong in jail rather than intimidating their communities as they have been doing.