Wednesday, 28 September 2022
Financial Resolutions 2022 - Financial Resolution No. 6: General: Financial Resolution (Resumed)
In the context of a budget, we first look at the overall budget and we then get into the detail of each particular section of it. I commend the budget spend this year in the area of justice. There is a clear commitment to provide the numbers of gardaí that we need to see. That is welcome. All those we talk to, whether rank-and-file gardaí or senior members of the force, tell us the one thing they need is more numbers and more gardaí out on the beat, in the community and doing the job. That is what we need to see. I seek clarity on the number of the 1,000 trainee gardaí. Earlier, the Minister stated the figure would be 200 every three months, which would add up to 800 per year. I understand that is at present the approximate capacity within Templemore. Are there plans to expand that capacity to find more innovative ways to make that happen?
The announcement of an additional 450 civilian staff within An Garda Síochána is also welcome. An issue was raised in regard to the Courts Service in the Minister’s speech. She spoke about modernisation and the work to be done there, all of which it is to be hoped will deal with some of the backlog. The key thing that is needed to deal with the backlogs is the appointment of more judges to the Circuit Court and to the District Court. That is something that we really need to see movement on, a clear way of doing that and a budget put in place to make that happen.
The Minister of State, Deputy James Browne, mentioned the youth justice programme and the Garda youth diversion programmes. They are vital and this is direction we need to go in. It would be useful if we see something provided for within the Probation Service and the Prison Service to ensure that we are able to reduce the number of people who are presently in our prison system and who continually re-offend. We need to come up with better programmes and more ways of doing that. I understand that is part of what the new additional staffing levels within that sector are about. However, we need specific programmes to deal with that.
In a more general sense, one criticism that many of us on this side of the House have in regard to the budget is that it does not deal enough with the with the issues of poverty. We all understand and appreciate the link between poverty, social deprivation and crime. How do we manage that and make sure that that happens?
While I welcome the increases in social welfare, we feel that they do not go far enough. There also has not been enough done in the way of assistance of working people who are on low incomes. The taxation measures have been geared too much towards those on higher incomes. People who are on lower incomes or who are on the minimum wage need to see more return for the work that they do. That would assist a lot. However, in general, the budget that has been put in place for justice is the direction to go and it is welcome.