Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
115. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the way her Department intends to support the implementation of the proposals within a report completed by a person (details supplied) on challenges of criminal activities affecting the community in Dublin 17. [28087/21]
This question relates to the progress in implementing the policing dimensions of a report by Jack Nolan, a former senior garda, into the problems and "enduring challenges", as he called them, in an area of Dublin 17.
I welcome the recent report which has set out a socio-economic and community plan for Darndale and the surrounding areas in Dublin 17. Under the justice plan 2021, my Department is committed to supporting and working with Dublin City Council, DCC, to ensure the implementation of the report on Darndale, Belcamp and Moatview.
As the Deputy is aware, DCC commissioned this report in response to the escalating levels of violence in these areas of north Dublin in 2019 and 2020. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the areas’ assets, services, and significant levels of State supports, as well as its inherent challenges. The Darndale implementation oversight group was established in February of this year and meets monthly, and is chaired by former Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan. The importance placed on the implementation of the report by An Garda Síochána is demonstrated by the presence of the local chief superintendent, superintendent and inspector, all of whom sit on the group. Further reflecting the importance of this work, the implementation group and my Department have agreed that the Department will also now be part of this group.
While many of the report's recommendations relate to issues such as youth services, drugs services, the physical environment and community services and facilities, I am informed that implementation of the Garda actions is well under way, including the community hub proposal. As well as important recommendations related to crime prevention and dismantling gangs, two key recommendations include the need to strengthen community participation and leadership, and the need for more collaboration in the delivery of State services. This closely aligns with the work my Department is undertaking to develop a new community safety policy in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. This new policy will ensure communities are safer and feel safer by making community safety a whole-of-government responsibility and priority, to be delivered at a local level through community safety partnerships, supported through a national governance structure. Three pilot partnerships are being established in Dublin's north inner city, Longford and Waterford and will run for the next two years.
Is the Minister of State in a position to report on whether there is any progress in, as she rightly says, the disruption of crime gangs that are a real problem? In the prevention of young people getting sucked into the backwash of the drugs trade and in the setting up a structured community policing for those three neighbourhoods, do we have concrete evidence of new resources and methods in place?
The Garda youth diversion projects are a fundamental support to the operation of the statutory Garda diversion programmes and provide a vital ingredient in enhancing community policing partnerships. These partnerships are community based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives. There are 105 Garda youth diversion projects nationally and the intention is to further develop the service so it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from this.
On the budget for the Garda youth diversion projects, €18 million of funding has been provided in 2021 with a further allocation of €3 million for the Greentown pilot projects, the bail supervision scheme and the University of Limerick research evidence into policy, programmes and practice project. There is much work under way in relation to this.
I very much appreciate that. Can the Minister of State monitor the progress indicators of that initiative over time? Also, is she involved in the action, as envisaged in the programme for Government, of looking at districts like this on a wider basis and mirroring what happened in the north-east inner city, where there could be an education dimension, a youth services dimension, a tenancy policy dimension and so on?
That is a commitment in the programme for Government. Is the Department involved in preparing for the delivery of those initiatives? This area would be a prime candidate for such an initiative.
I am advised by local Garda management that it is continually monitoring and preparing all policing plans pertaining to the Coolock area in line with the needs of the community. This includes having regular liaisons with resident groups and taking into account evolving crime trends. The Deputy is correct that this issue needs to be monitored and we have to ensure that the outputs are meeting the needs of the local community. Prior to Covid, local Garda management conducted numerous clinics on a weekly basis, which served as an important conduit between the force and the local community. Despite the pandemic, and in line with Government guidelines, liaison continues between the Garda and the local community through online platforms where possible, supporting and assisting the most vulnerable in the community. With the further easing of restrictions and new public health measures being announced, local Garda management is currently reviewing a plan to reinstate a full community policing engagement programme. It is envisaged that all Garda clinics will be reinstated in the coming months, with the addition of a new Garda clinic based at the Darndale Belcamp Village Centre to serve the surrounding communities. Discussions have also been taking place with stakeholders and community leaders.