Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Strength.

124.

andMr. Timmins asked the Minister for Justice if there are any proposals for increasing the strength of the Garda Síochána; and, if so, what total membership figure is contemplated.

125.

asked the Minister for Justice the strength of the Garda Síochána on 1st October, 1970, and 1st October, 1971.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 125 together.

The actual strength of the Garda Síochána on 1st October, 1970, was 6,540; on 1st October, 1971, it was 6,679, an increase of 139.

Early this year I secured Government approval for an increase of 400 in the strength of the force over and above normal recruitment during this year and next year. This will bring the strength of the force up to 6,962.

The strength is at present under review, in consultation with the Commissioner, in connection with the preparation of the financial estimates for the coming year.

Would the Minister not agree that 2,000 would be a more realistic figure? Further, would he not agree that we have not enough gardaí in many parts of the country to enforce laws? There is nothing worse than having laws on the Statute Book which are not enforced. Surely the Minister would agree that this is so with regard to car stealing in Dublin, bank raids, speed on the roads, and the drug problem? Is the Minister aware that there is an illegal organisation whose members speak each week outside chapel gates and at fairs and markets throughout the country, claiming they are in a position to take on and defeat the gardaí and Army? What action is being taken by the Minister? The Minister must have this information. It is being said throughout the country at the present time; it was even said in the Mansion House, which was let to an illegal organisation by an official of the corporation. Surely the Minister realises that, unless something is done, there will be a Fidel Castro-like takeover in this country in a short time. Does the Minister intend to do anything about it?

As I have stated, this year I announced an increase of 400 in the strength of the Garda Síochána. I think it is the first increase in the strength of the force since its establishment. As I have told the House, the strength of the force is at present under review in consultation with the Commissioner.

Is the Minister prepared to stand behind the Garda Síochána when they honour their oath and do their duty and to say there will be no more political interference——

There never was and that has been made clear by the Garda themselves.

The murderers of Garda Fallon could have been arrested, but they were not allowed to be arrested by the Department of Justice, because you are getting your votes. Fianna Fáil did the same thing 50 years ago.

This is most improper. It is an abuse of the privileges of this House.

It is not improper. You went down to Doctor Wolfe and you told him that you would see that the IRA would not burn out any of the Protestants in Tipperary. He announced that off the altar.

This is a disgraceful abuse of the privileges of this House.

He announced off the altar that he was assured by the Minister that he had called and seen the IRA and that they would not burn out any of the Protestants in Tipperary. Doctor Wolfe announced that off the altar.

Deputy L'Estrange cannot carry on in this manner. I am calling Question No.126.

126.

asked the Minister for Justice the strength of the Garda Síochána in Limerick in each of the years from 1961 to 1971 inclusive.

I assume that the Deputy is referring to Limerick city. The reply is in the form of a tabular statement which, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to have circulated with the Official Report.

Following is the statement:

Garda strength (all ranks)

Year (at 31st December)

Limerick City

1961

126

1962

129

1963

122

1964

130

1965

132

1966

130

1967

133

1968

135

1969

142

1970

151

1971(at 29th October)

156

127.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of applicants for entry to the Garda Síochána who have passed the entrance examinations and who have not as yet been called for training.

The number is 31.

128.

asked the Minister for Justice if he is satisfied with the present recruitment figures to the Garda Síochána.

The answer is "yes".