Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Garda Firearms Training.

Pat Rabbitte


20 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice the number of occasions on which gardaí who carry or may be required to carry firearms in the course of their duties undergo firearms training each year; if it is still intended to proceed with the construction of a Garda firing range at Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare, land for which was purchased some time ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Members of the Garda Síochána who carry or may carry firearms in the course of their duties generally undergo refresher firearms training courses twice a year. Members attached to specialist units receive more intensive training, as required.

There has been no change in the plan to construct an outdoor firing range for the Garda Síochána at Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare. The necessary preliminary planning is under way.

As I indicated in my reply to Question No. 10 on 25 April 1990, the Garda authorities are carrying out a review of firearms training and it is the intention to upgrade the training programme to any extent deemed desirable in the light of the findings of this review. Any extra resources that are required will be made available.

Until the Ballymore Eustace site is constructed, is no facility available to the Garda Síochána for outdoor shooting practice?

There is a facility. They normally use the Army outdoor facilities. They have their own indoor facilities. They are getting Ballymore Eustace as well.

Given the very excellent Army facilities that are available, can the Minister indicate the desirability of proceeding with the Ballymore Eustace project? Why is there not a marrying of resources in this area between the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice?

The Department of Defence facilities are not always available at the precise times the Garda would want them. We feel it would be far more effective from the point of view of use of manpower if the Garda had their own facility available to them.

Is the Minister not aware that some gardaí who were required to carry arms, in effect did not have a refresher course even once in the 12 months, never mind twice in the 12 months, over the past couple of years, and that some of these refresher courses were cancelled because of lack of ammunition? Will he give an absolute commitment that the disgraceful treatment of members of the Garda Síochána will not be allowed to continue and that the resources, whether from the point of view of ammunition or other arrangements, will be made available so that those members who are required to carry arms will have proper refresher training?

The Deputy can be assured that the Commissioner is very conscious of his responsibility in relation to the training of members of the force who carry arms. It is a management matter for the Garda, but the Deputy can be assured that from a Government point of view and my point of view, whatever resources are required will be made available at the request of the Commissioner. However, he assures me he has adequate resources available to him at this stage.

I do not criticise the Minister, but if he is committed to the Ballymore Eustace project, when will work commence on its construction and how soon does he think it will be available and on stream for use?

The sooner the better. The necessary preliminary planning is underway and I hope it will come on stream as soon as possible. I do not want to give the Deputy a date. If he asks me when we return in the autumn I will give him a closer date. At this stage the preliminary planning is well advanced.

As far as the outdoor facility is concerned, in the upgrading of the training college at Templemore there will be an outdoor facility there.

Is there an MEP living near the range? Does the Minister anticipate no problems from that point of view?

That disposes of questions for today.