Written Answers. - Garda Deployment.

Gerard Collins

Question:

13 Mr. Collins asked the Minister for Justice the number of social workers employed by her Department to support members of the Garda; the proposals, if any, to seek the cost of the four welfare officers recently appointed by the Garda Representative Association arising from the lack of facilities afforded by her Department. [9111/97]

The Garda authorities, who are responsible for the allocation of Garda personnel to different areas, have informed me that in 1990, the Garda Commissioner appointed four members of garda rank as welfare officers for An Garda Síochána. I assume it is these positions that the Deputy is referring to. The country was divided into four regions and each welfare officer was allocated a region. This is still the current situation.

In addition to the support provided by the welfare officers, the Garda authorities have at national level a national welfare committee. This committee is chaired by the A/Commissioner in B Branch and comprises representatives of all the different representative associations and other interested parties. They meet throughout the year to discuss relevant matters. Each Division also has a divisional welfare committee which is composed of the divisional officer and representatives of all the Garda associations and meets as required.

The Garda Síochána also operates an employee assistance programme which aims at the early identification of members with personal problems that may adversely affect their work performance and to help them to obtain the best professional assistance available so as to retain their services within the force.

In addition, members of An Garda Síochána may avail of the services of trained peer supporters within their division or section.

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he is not aware of any recent appointment of four welfare officers by the Garda Representative Association. However, I understand from the Garda authorities that a review of the garda welfare service is currently taking place within An Garda Síochána.