Tuesday, 7 February 2017
I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House to deal with the matter of the Garda station in Glanmire. The building used was an RIC barracks which was burned down during the Civil War and refurbished. It is totally out of date. It has no showers, changing rooms, interview rooms or wheelchair access. In May 2010, an advertisement was placed in the newspapers looking for a suitable site. I understand one was identified but no progress has been made since. I understand there was litigation on the matter, but I am not sure why.
The population in the area is 17,000 and moving towards 20,000. It is not satisfactory that there is no Garda station for a population of this size. It is in this context I request to know the up-to-date situation. When is it likely a site will be identified? When is it likely tenders will be invited to build a new station for the area? It is extremely important.The area, being on the outskirts of Cork city, will continue to grow and it has a very young population. Therefore, it is very important that a new station be put in place at the earliest possible date.
On behalf of the Minister, who, unfortunately, cannot be here, I thank the Senator for raising this important matter. He has a keen interest in justice and equality. He will appreciate that the programme for the replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close co-operation the OPW, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. This includes identifying and progressing any necessary new builds and any remedial or refurbishment works required at individual stations. The Minister has no direct role in these matters. The Minister, however, has been informed by the Garda authorities that the proposed site for the new Garda station in Glanmire has been the subject of legal proceedings, which were settled towards the end of 2016. I understand that the Garda and OPW are working very closely to progress the development as soon as possible.
The Senator will be aware that the proposed Glanmire station forms part of the Garda station building and refurbishment programme for the period 2016 to 2021, which makes provision for the major refurbishment of stations and facilities, including facilities for meeting victims of crime; essential remedial works to existing stations; the development of large-scale property and exhibit-management stores; the upgrading of cells; and the provision of improved custody management facilities.
Under the programme, in addition to the proposed Glanmire station, new stations will be provided in Bailieborough, Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel. This is in addition to the new divisional headquarters in Dublin and Wexford, as well as a new regional headquarters in Galway, whose development is currently under way at a cost of over €100 million and which are expected to be completed in 2017. Of course, these measures cannot be viewed in isolation from the Government's overarching commitment to ensuring a strong and viable police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. In furtherance of this, the Senator will be aware that, in July 2016, the Government approved the Minister's proposal for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In addition, the Government's capital plan for the period 2016 to 2021 provides some €205 million for investment in Garda ICT infrastructure and €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet. Taken together, the above measures reinforce the Government's commitment to enabling significant reform in An Garda Síochána and to providing a high-profile and visible policing service for our communities.
The problem I have is that this matter was advertised in 2010. It is now 2017 and I am concerned that seven years have been lost. As I outlined, there is a growing population and a totally inapt Garda station. Could any commitment be given to prioritise the works in view the seven-year delay? I am glad to hear the position on the legal proceedings. I am surprised a process such as this took six years to conclude. I am glad, after the time lost, that we can now fast-track the development and accord to it priority in a schedule of work.
I will bring the Senator's message on the Garda station in Glanmire back to the Minister. He has made his points very well. There is a high degree of urbanisation in the general area in question and people need to feel safe in their own community. I regret that legal proceedings held up progress for five or six years but the matter was resolved just before Christmas. I hope there will be further progress and, of course, I will relay the Senator's concerns to the Minister.