Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Cork Garda Patrol Cars.

151.

asked the Minister for Justice (a) the number of patrol cars available to the Garda Síochána in Cork city, (b) the year of manufacture of these cars, (c) the mileage of each and (d) how often in the last twelve months they were not available because they had broken down.

There are seven Garda cars in Cork city, two of which are full-time patrol cars and all of which are radio equipped. Of the seven cars, three are new and were allocated to Cork within the past two months, three others were manufactured in 1970 and the remaining one in 1969. The 1969 car and the two 1970 cars, with the highest mileages, are due for replacement within the next two months when new cars at present on order are delivered. At that stage also an additional patrol car will be allocated to Cork city.

I do not think it would be appropriate to give information about the mileages of cars at a particular centre at a particular point of time or about the frequency of breakdowns over a particular period as statistics of this kind, unless accompanied by extensive supplementary materials, would be highly misleading, as an indication of the extent to which Garda patrols are carried out. The mileages vary according as replacement cars are provided and, because breakdowns can cause a car to be out of service for as little as an hour or as much as a fortnight, figures of breakdowns could only give a distorted impression. In conditions of continuous use, the liability to breakdown is not confined to cars with high mileages—indeed, each of the three new cars in Cork has had a breakdown already. I should emphasise, however, that the fact that a patrol car is not available owing to breakdown, accident-damage or routine servicing does not mean that patrols are not being performed. A relief car is generally available when the patrol cars are out of service.

Is Cork to get an extra two patrol cars or are they replacements for the 1969-70 cars?

There will be three new cars coming very shortly.

Are these additions or replacements?

Two are certainly replacements of the two oldest cars. I am not clear as to whether or not the third is additional.

There will be a surplus of Deputy Jack Lynch's certainly.

There is no fear of that.

The Minister's reply was significantly defensive in tone.