Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
86. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if additional Garda resources will be allocated to the Cavan and Monaghan Garda division in view of the urgent need to re-establish a dedicated drugs unit; if such resources will be provided without further delay in view of the increasing problems due to the availability of illicit drugs throughout both counties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2158/17]
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the allocation of Gardaí is continually monitored and reviewed taking into account all relevant factors including crime trends, demographics, and security assessments relating to the area in question so as to ensure optimal use is made of Garda human resources. It is the responsibility of the Divisional Officer to allocate personnel within his/her Division.
I am informed that the number of Gardaí assigned to the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division on the 30 November 2016, the latest date for which figures are readily available was 317, with 14 reserves and 35 civilians. It is important to note that all Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences or otherwise. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau leads out the policing strategy for tackling drugs supply. This approach allows for the co-ordinated use of Garda resources in tackling all forms of organised crime, including illicit drug activity nationwide.
I am further informed that the prevention and detection of drug related offences is a priority within the Cavan/Monaghan Division and that all Gardaí in the Division, both uniform and detective, are engaged in intelligence-led policing and the undertaking of targeted operations against those involved in drug-related crime. In addition, Garda personnel from the Division continue to work with the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in this regard. I am advised that local Garda management are satisfied that this strategy ensures the optimal use of resources in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs.
This Government is committed to ensuring visible, effective and responsive policing throughout the country in order to strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and prevent crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.
Since the reopening of the Garda College, 679 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including 17 to the Cavan/Monaghan Division. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that another 900 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest in 2017 which will bring Garda numbers to around the 13,500 mark by year end.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Siochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources she needs to allow her to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Cavan/Monaghan Division, in the coming years.
This investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government's Capital Plan 2016 - 2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and I have no doubt that these new resources now coming on stream will support An Garda Síochana in tackling all criminal activity.