On behalf of the Labour Party I wish to support the Estimate. As I said on a previous occasion I want to say how glad I am to pay tribute to the gardaí and the work they are doing. Under extreme provocation most of them behave very well. It appears as if they are sometimes pretty scarce. If it is a question of a shortage of gardaí it should be possible to call up for training applicants who have been examined and passed but are left waiting a very long time. If the training period could be speeded up it would help considerably to relieve gardaí who appear to be asked to do more than they should be asked to do. Could the Minister say if there is a special section of training dealing with courtesy because, while 99.9 per cent of the gardaí, particularly those with some service, appear to be very courteous and patient under provocation, the odd one seems to spoil the whole picture.
I had two examples of this recently. One was when I was coming to Dublin the week before last. Repairs were proceeding on a section of the road and a young garda was routing city-bound traffic around the repairs, or at least, the outside lane, and making a very good job of it. There were two traffic lights there at this period. The following morning as I approached, the lights changed just as I passed them. The car in front of me stopped before the road repairs and as there was a car behind me I had no option but to drive up alongside the first car to free the other road coming into the intersection. The garda there signalled me up, stopped me and said: "Red means stop. I saw you sneaking up behind that fellow. Go on, now." I could have done a number of things but after a little contemplation I did none of them and drove on to the city.
This young man would obviously make his living in various ways but being a garda is not one of them. He should have been taught a little manners. This sort of thing, having happened to me, would undoubtedly happen to many people passing that place. If he was in bad humour at having to go on traffic duty at that hour of the morning he should not take it out on motorists. Incidentally, the question of the amount of patrol duty that the gardaí are able to do makes one wonder whether there are sufficient gardaí to do it. Six or eight months ago there was a car at Dublin Airport crossing. It had either been stolen or deposited there for some other reason. It was an almost new car and it stayed there until it was taken away bit by bit. I am sure the gardaí saw it there. I could see it while passing by. I mentioned it to one garda and he said: "We do go out and have a look at it." Having a look at it during the day did not prevent it disappearing. Somebody owned that car. About three weeks ago, in almost the same position, another car appeared which was obviously stolen and abandoned. It has also been disappearing. The wheels are now gone and no doubt the windscreen and doors will follow. If the gardaí see a car abandoned for a couple of days I think they should take the necessary steps to ensure that it is not left until vandals make away with it.
Deputy Ryan referred to the job being done at Bettystown during the summer. I want to congratulate the gardaí on that job also. We have a very good development association and a good county council and when we need assistance we simply ask the Garda to help. Not only do they put up signs to show where it is possible to park and where it is not, but if the traffic is too dense, out of their very sparse Force they put gardaí along the route to direct traffic at peak periods. We are very grateful to them because they make it possible for people to get into and out of this very popular seaside resort. Much more of this work could be done in other parts of the country; it is simply a matter of co-operation.
Most of the gardaí are very courteous. I find any of them I have any dealings with, meeting them and discussing things with them, are people to whom you can talk. The senior officers are usually very sensible men who appear to have been promoted because they are good public relations officers also. It would, therefore, be a pity if the type of thing I mentioned earlier were allowed to spoil the record of a good Force.
While it may be outside this Estimate, may I ask the Minister if it has finally been decided to abandon hope of having a Garda Band again? If so, what has happened the instruments? Does the Minister know? Is there a hope that at some future date we may again see a Garda Band in operation?
The Minister refers in his Estimate to an additional sum of £80,000 required for subhead B mainly to cover increases in rates of locomotion—a very nice word—and subsistence allowances and increased removal expense rates which were made retrospective to July, 1964. All these changes in rates were negotiated under the Garda Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme. I quite agree that this is right but is there an effort being made now to keep the rates of pay for gardaí in line with rates outside? I think it was before the Minister took over the Department, but he will be aware that on a previous occasion the fact that nobody seemed to worry very much until it was almost too late meant that there were many dissatisfied gardaí, who found they could do very much better elsewhere. As a result many very good officers were lost to the Force because they were not adequately remunerated for the work they were doing.
It is no harm to mention again that all the detection work in the world will not help unless the Minister can do something about regularising the treatment of young brats taken to court for doing things for which they should receive severe punishment. Despite all the efforts of the gardaí to bring these people to book the gardaí usually end up disgusted by a district justice or somebody of that kind giving the young lads a lecture and saying: "You will be a good boy; you will not allow that to happen again." Off he goes and within hours he is stealing cars, breaking into places or, worse still, smashing up private and public property. I, for the Labour Party, support the proposal.