Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band.

asked the Minister for Justice if he will state the grounds on which the Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band was disbanded; whether this band had a continuous unbroken existence for a period of 65 years; whether it was maintained wholly out of the voluntary subscriptions of the members of the force; and, whether on the amalgamation of the two branches of the Gárda force in 1925 the then Minister for Justice gave a public undertaking that the independent Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band and the Dublin Metropolitan Gárda athletic clubs would be preserved; and if, in the circumstances, he will state whether this undertaking or any part of it will now be honoured.

asked the Minister for Justice if he will state whether the members of the recently disbanded Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band performed police duties in the stations to which they were attached; whether, in fact, during their hours of practice the members of the band constituted a reserve force which could be called upon in emergency; and, if so, what steps he proposes to replace such reserve force.

asked the Minister for Justice whether he will state the respective placings in order of merit of the Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band and the Depôt Band in the last three competitions in which they competed.

asked the Minister for Justice if he will state what steps were taken to determine which of the members of the recently disbanded Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band were suitable for transfer to the Depôt Band, and how, in fact, the proposals in regard to transfer were brought to his notice; and whether he sanctioned the arrangement under which seven out of 39 members of the Dublin Metropolitan Gárda Band were transferred to the Depôt Band.

I shall take questions 14, 15, 16 and 17 together. For a considerable time it has been clear that in face of the growing requirements for extra police in Dublin, and the fact that normal wastage was not being replaced by recruitment, the continued maintenance of two police bands in Dublin could not be justified. Accordingly, the Commissioner in the discharge of his statutory duties decided to amalgamate the Depôt Band and the Dublin Metropolitan Band so as to release a number of men for full police duty. I may say that I quite agree with the Commissioner's decision. A statement on the other matters regarding which the Deputy desires information will appear in the Official Report.

Following is the statement:—I have no information as to the period for which the Dublin Metropolitan Police Band has been in existence. It was not at any time maintained wholly out of voluntary subscriptions by members of the force. The majority of members contribute voluntarily a small sum each year towards the maintenance of the bands, but the pay of members of such bands is borne by the State. I have no record of any undertaking given in the past in respect of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Band or athletic clubs. Members of bands are available for duty at any time if urgently required, and ordinarily discharge some duty each day. Their availability for duty is, however, seriously impaired by their membership of a band, particularly during the summer months when band engagements are numerous. As regards the suggestion that the members of the Dublin Metropolitan Band constituted a reserve force, it is to be noted that they will be more readily available for emergencies when performing ordinary police duty. I am not aware of and I have not inquired as to the respective placings of the bands in the competitions in which they competed. The personnel was determined by the Commissioner on the joint recommendation of the two bandmasters.