Topical Issue Debate

Regeneration Projects Status

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for agreeing to take this issue. Since 1999, when I was elected to Dublin City Council, I have been deeply involved in regeneration projects across the south inner city, including locations such as St. Michael's Estate, Fatima Mansions, St. Teresa's Gardens, Dolphin House and many more.

I am concerned that, due to the collapse of public private partnerships, some regeneration did not happen, particularly in St. Michael's Estate where I live. A wonderful job has been done on Fatima Mansions and work has now commenced on St. Teresa's Gardens. In the 1950s, Dublin Corporation built St. Teresa's Gardens with 346 flats in 16 blocks, as well as ten houses and ten shops. At the time it was heralded as the greatest place to live. I know many people who grew up there over the years and they would still say the same thing today.

Since those years, however, many problems have occurred within the flat complex, including dampness, mould and sewerage. The area has fallen into a poor state of repair. These problems are at times compounded by serious anti-social behaviour, criminal activity and drug dealing. The situation has become a nightmare for the 120 residents living there.

The regeneration board was established in 2005 and spent several years working on a masterplan for redeveloping the flats complex. The project was to be completed through a public private partnership. In 2009, however, the plan was abandoned as that regeneration project and four others in the city fell victim to the recession and the demise of the developer Mr. Bernard McNamara who was supposed to complete the projects at that time. It was devastating news for the residents, public representatives and the wider community.

Since then, the remaining residents of St. Teresa's Gardens have been left in limbo. The council has been unable to proceed due to lack of funding, as the Minister knows. Conditions have worsened and the tenanting process has come to a halt. This is because the city council is finding it difficult to re-house the other 120 residents.

Last October, Dublin City Council started to demolish two of the housing blocks, and that work has now been completed. In recent months, residents have been called to meetings about the rebuilding of St. Teresa's Gardens. They have been asked to consider the refurbishment of three of the blocks there - which did not go down very well at one of the meetings - and the development of 57 new units, including 27 houses and 30 apartments. This is still not progress because no masterplan has been produced for the people living there.

Can the Minister clarify whether this project will proceed in future and, if so, how will his Department support it? Rumour has it that the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will supply funding to develop 57 housing units, which are included in a plan shown to local residents. Because of the time that has elapsed since 2009, people feel that answers are required. I look forward to the Minister's reply in this regard.

I know that Deputy Catherine Byrne has taken a great interest in this issue and has raised it on many previous occasions. I want to assure her that my Department also has a great interest in seeing this commenced and completed to the satisfaction of the residents.

The national regeneration programme targets the country's most disadvantaged communities. My Department supports the ambitious programme of regeneration projects which seeks to address the causes of disadvantage in communities through a holistic programme of physical, social and economic regeneration.

Of the €397 million spent under the 2012 housing capital programme, some 25% was used to progress regeneration projects. Almost €50 million of this was spent on regeneration projects in Dublin, including Ballymun and the former PPP projects such as St. Teresa's Gardens, O'Devaney Gardens, St. Michael's Estate and Dolphin House.

Dublin City Council previously intended carrying out the redevelopment of St. Teresa's Gardens by way of a public private partnership. To the great disappointment of everyone, including public representatives and local tenants, the PPP model became non-viable.

With the support of my Department, the city council established a special housing taskforce to examine alternative redevelopment options. As a result of this, the city council submitted a draft schematic regeneration proposal, developed in consultation with the regeneration board for St. Teresa's Gardens, to my Department last year. The Department is continuing to work closely with the city council to try to develop those proposals further.

Last December, the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, visited St. Teresa's Gardens to discuss the proposals with the relevant city council officials. She impressed on them the absolute necessity to finalise the master planning process and get the demolition and refurbishment programme underway. As Deputy Byrne has said, initial works were carried out at St. Teresa's Gardens.

The Department has received the draft 2013 regeneration work programme from Dublin City Council. This includes a programme of demolition and refurbishment works at St. Teresa's Gardens. There are no firm proposals for the construction of the new homes yet, in advance of the master plan. However, departmental officials will meet with Dublin City Council shortly to discuss this year's work programme. The regeneration proposals for St. Teresa's Gardens will be high on the agenda.

I acknowledge the Minister's commitment to regeneration and the social agenda nationally. His reply did not contain the news I was expecting, but we are where we are. The fall of the public private partnerships, while disappointing, is a reflection of what happened in the economy. As someone who served on the regeneration boards, I feel it was a reflection of the many community groups which really put the nail in the coffin of many such boards that were supposed to go ahead at that time.

I welcome the fact the Department has received the new works programme from Dublin City Council. I look forward to working with the Minister and the city council to keep the hopes of those still living in St. Teresa's Gardens alive. Hopefully, they will be able to have new homes in St. Teresa's Gardens and in the wider community also. This regeneration programme is long overdue so I hope some pressure can be put on the board to get on with the job. The board members do not live there, but the local people do.

I am giving Deputy Byrne an undertaking to make representations on her behalf to the relevant officials in the Department's housing and planning unit, as well as to Dublin City Council, to express the community's concerns on the need to accelerate the regeneration project for St. Teresa's Gardens. I wish to reiterate the commitment by the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, and myself to see that the project is implemented.

Despite the funding challenges facing the Government, we are committed to tackling the root causes of disadvantage in many of our large social housing estates and flat complexes.

Regeneration is critical in this regard and I hope the Department will be in a position to announce details of the capital allocations for the regeneration programme very shortly. I assure Deputy Catherine Byrne that the level of funding for the Dublin city projects in 2013 will not act as a brake on progress.

Rights of the Child

I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for giving me the opportunity to raise this important issue. First, I acknowledge the Children's Rights Alliance gave the Government an "A" grade for the passage of the children's rights referendum. However, I wish to point out that the referendum was not just a Government initiative, but had the support of 165 of the 166 Deputies in this House, as well as the support of the Senators and many children's organisations. Furthermore, given the debacle over the Department's referendum website and leaflets, it could legitimately be argued that the Minister could have jeopardised the passage of this much-needed measure. However, it has passed and I welcome this development. I also note the Government gets a good mark in respect of education.

Nonetheless, there are areas for concern and in responding to the concerns I intend to raise, the Minister should concentrate his reply on them. Despite the "A" grade on the referendum, the overall grade for the Government has slipped and if ever a Government were to receive a high grade, it should be in the direct aftermath of the passage of this referendum. This is the first full year of a full Cabinet Minister for Children and Youth Affairs but it has seen a reduced overall rating, which hardly constitutes an endorsement of the Department and indicates to me that the Department is not working.

The key failing concerns child poverty, with budget 2013 continuing on the progressive social policies of the current Administration. Child protection was discussed at great length during the course of the referendum debate and surely protection from poverty is a key form of child protection. As the foreword to the report card states:

[the] Government’s successful – or unsuccessful – implementation of the Programme for Government fundamentally alters the climate in which children live and prosper. It plays an integral role as to whether a child thrives or wanes. The Government has the power to turn a series of events into a crisis, to escalate or de-escalate a problem. Budget 2013 is a good example of this. The Rollercoaster Budget ... including [the] cuts to the Child Benefit payment and the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, devastated families. Consequently, [the alliance] had no choice but to award the Government a FAIL – an ‘F’ grade on this issue.

This is the lowest grade given.

In her introduction, the alliance's chief executive, Tanya Ward, goes on to state "cutting supports and services to vulnerable children and their families without any other reforms is short-sighted and will impact negatively on the lives of many vulnerable children and families". The blanket cuts across the board had a severe negative impact and it is worth noting that this blanket cut was carried out despite the fact that prior to the introduction of the Government's first budget, the Mangan progress report of November 2011 stated it "considers that the consequences of an uncompensated reduction in child benefit rates would be significant in terms of child poverty". The Mangan progress report made this point before the Government introduced such a cut in its first budget and in its second budget.

Health also is downgraded this year from a "C" grade to a "D" grade. In respect of primary care, there was an ongoing political debacle during 2012, slow progress in establishing primary care teams and the funding for GP care was reallocated to make up for other financial deficits in HSE. The positive steps in mental health were overshadowed by the fact that of the €35 million allocated, only approximately €6 million was spent. In respect of children with special education needs, that category also saw a downgrade from "C" to "D". This was to reflect the lack of action on the commitment to further the implementation of the EPSEN Act. This is despite the commitment in the programme for Government to publish a plan for the aforementioned Act's implementation. Moreover, the Government scored a grade of "E+" in respect of the right to equality and non-discrimination. This was as a result of the delayed reform of family law and a failure to address the inequalities faced by children of unmarried parents, children with single fathers, etc. In addition, little has been done to vindicate the rights of the Traveller communities and of migrant children.

In conclusion, it is true that many of the failings identified in this report fall outside the immediate departmental remit of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Nonetheless, there is a case to be made that she is lacking in influence, that the failings identified in this report show her advocacy for children to have been inadequate and that were it not for the passage of the referendum with the unanimous support of political parties and the children's rights agencies, the grade for this report would have been a great deal worse. I wish to hear the Minister outline how the Government will address the failings identified in this report with specific reference to the Government's failure to honour its own commitments in the programme for Government.

I thank Deputy Troy for raising this issue and I am pleased to respond on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Fitzgerald. The Minister, who is the first such Minister at Cabinet level, is returning from Russia following discussions on the possibility of a bilateral agreement on inter-country adoption with the Russian Federation. I am disappointed with Deputy Troy's negativity regarding many issues relating to children and his questioning of the existence of the Department itself.

Members will be aware that the Children's Rights Alliance, CRA, is a coalition of more than 100 organisations working to secure the rights of children in Ireland by campaigning for the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The most recognised piece of stand-alone work in recent years has been the children's rights report card series, which examines the Government's performance or non-performance in respect of its own commitments to children in the areas of education, health, material well-being and safeguarding childhood. The CRA published its annual report card, Report Card 2013, on Monday last. This is the fifth edition of its annual report card series. Report Card 2013 evaluates the Government on its progress during 2012 in meeting its commitments to children as set out in the 2011 programme for Government. It is awarded an overall "C" grade. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has positive working relationship with the CRA and the wider NGO body it represents. The CRA is represented on a number of committees relating to the work programme of the Department and the Government's wider programme of work for children and young people. The Department provided information to the CRA on many of the items that relate to its specific areas of responsibility and this is reflected in the final report.

Overall, the grades reflective of the work of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs are positive, such as an overall grade "B" for the activities covered by chapter 5, and in a number of cases demonstrate improvements on previous years. This is reflective of the priority attaching to this issue both in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and across Government, as articulated in the programme for Government. Notably, the Government was awarded an "A" grade in respect of the children's referendum. I wish to thank Deputy Troy for his party's support on that matter. It had not been put to the people previously and one might wonder why.

I now wish to comment on some of the different areas referred to in the CRA report card that relate specifically to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The child and family support agency is at the heart of the Government's reform of child and family services. The Government has decided that child welfare and protection services will transfer from the Health Service Executive to this new agency. It has also decided that the services of the family support agency will similarly transfer. The establishment of a single agency incorporating key children's services will provide a focus for the major reforms already under way. The agency, upon establishment, will assume full statutory responsibility for a range of child and family services currently provided by three separate agencies; namely, the HSE, the family support agency and the National Educational Welfare Board.

Last July saw the publication of the report of the task force on the establishment of the child and family support agency. Following consideration of the task force's detailed recommendations, the Government in November approved the general scheme and heads of the Bill. Drafting of the legislation to establish the agency in line with the general scheme is at an advanced stage. This will be comprehensive legislation, providing as it does for subsuming functions from three separate agencies and assigning onerous responsibilities regarding the care and protection of children and the promotion of their welfare. Subject to finalisation and approval by Government, it is the Minister's intention to present the legislation to the Oireachtas during the current term. When established, the agency will constitute one of the largest public agencies in the State with staff of more than 4,000 employees and a budget of more than €550 million. It represents one the largest and most ambitious areas of public sector reform currently under way.

I must inform the Minister that just one minute remains to him to conclude his lengthy reply.

The Minister has asked me to convey a number of points to the House on this matter. I refer to her activities since assuming responsibility for the children detention system in January 2012.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has worked with her colleagues in government on a range of actions to improve conditions for children in detention and in particular, to end the practice of detaining children in St. Patrick's Institution and to transfer them to Oberstown. She announced a capital investment package in April 2011 to achieve that in Lusk, County Dublin. This will result in sufficient capacity to extend the child care model of detention to all young people under the age of 18 years by mid 2014.

In consultation with her colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister extended the remit of the Ombudsman for Children from July 2012 to include all boys less than 18 years of age detained in St. Patrick's Institution. A number of other measures have yet to be implemented as part of the Government's programme and we look forward to working with the Children's Rights Alliance and other NGOs to achieve those objectives.

I acknowledge and welcome the positives in the report but the overall C grade awarded to the Government is a slip on the grade it achieved last year. This happened in a year we had for the first time a full Minister with responsibility for child and youth affairs sitting at the Cabinet table. Why is that? The slip would have been much worse were it not for the passage of the children's referendum, which had cross-party support and the support of NGOs and the Children's Rights Alliance. The Minister did not once mention child poverty, for which the Government was given a fail, or mental health issues. He referred to the new child and family support agency, the establishment of which we support. The legislation to put the agency on a statutory footing was meant to be passed by December 2012. We have yet to see the heads of this important Bill, let alone have it pass through the Oireachtas. The Minister also referred to the Children First guidelines. The heads of the Bill relating to them were brought before the joint committee last May but the legislation has yet to come before the Houses to be implemented. The Minister, with all due respect, is not up to her job. She is not the advocate of children's rights that she should be. The greatest issue of all is the inability of the Government to keep children out of poverty. It is a sad reflection and it is a very poor reflection on the Minister that he has not even acknowledged this in his contribution.

As the Deputy will be aware, the most effective way to get any individual out of poverty is to provide employment. The pattern of difficult decisions the Government has had to make arising from the legacy we inherited from his party has made it enormously difficult to ensure we have an expanding domestic economy because of the measures that have had to be taken to deal with our public finances. Child and adult poverty are linked to the provision of jobs and I look forward to working with the Deputy to ensure we increase economic activity arising from the recent decision made by the European Central Bank and the Government to give us breathing space on the financial side.

Child benefit rates have been reduced, as they were by Fianna Fáil in 2010 when times got difficult in the context of our public finances. The increases of previous times have been eroded but substantial support is still being given to children notwithstanding the difficult financial position.

The establishment of the child and family support agency will provide the focus the Deputy advocates. Mental health and other issues that have not been addressed yet will be dealt with over the next year in the context of legislation. I explained where the suite of legislation is at. The principal legislation will be published this session and I look forward to the Deputy's support for it.

Penalty Points System

Section 63 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 requires that when people are alleged to have committed a road traffic offence, they must produce their driver's licence and a photocopy of the licence when they appear in court. There are also fines of between €1,000 and €2,000 for failure to produce and-or imprisonment to a term not exceeding three months. This important legislative measure, which was enacted on 28 October 2011, closed a loophole in earlier legislation where a person who was convicted of a road traffic offence could avoid having it recorded on his or her licence and, therefore, avoid penalty points by simply failing to bring his or her licence to court. Without the licence, the awarding of penalty points cannot be recorded on the National Vehicle and Driver File, NVDF. There were even outrageous suggestions that people were advised sometimes not to bring their licence to court in order that points could not be applied.

In April 2012, Evening Herald investigative journalist, Niall O'Connor estimated that 85,000 motorists had managed to avoid penalty points by arriving in court without their licence. This was a particularly unacceptable situation for repeat offenders who may have been getting away without any penalty for numerous speeding offences and who subsequently may have ended up in a serious crash. It has also been noted that the relatively low number of drivers on 12 points - 133 drivers on 31 March 2012 - could be influenced by the fact that there is a high level of avoidance of points through the non-production of a licence.

Since the enactment of section 63 in 2011, PARC, the national road safety campaign group outstandingly led by Ms Susan Grey and Ms Ann Fogarty, has battled to have it implemented across the courts system. They have attended District Court hearings around the country. In a report they made to me and to the Ministers for Justice and Equality and Transport, Tourism and Sport on the matter, they state, "We found a vast difference in procedures in some courts with little consistency". The application of penalty points seems to be a geographically lottery. For example, in Donegal, Galway and Cork District Courts, many drivers who were summonsed on road traffic penalty point offences, including speeding, were convicted but none was asked to present his or her licence or a photocopy of the licence to be passed on to the NVDF. PARC representatives attended Cork District Court earlier this month and said that, "no drivers (were) asked to hand up their licence in court although many were convicted on penalty point offences". There seemed to be no procedure in the court for taking licence details or sending information to the NVDF. Similarly, during sittings of the Donegal and Galway District Courts, the same thing appeared to be happening.

In contrast, at sittings of Dublin District Court in 2011 and 2012, drivers were requested to bring up their licence and a copy at beginning of court and, on conviction, the clerk took the licence details and returned it to the driver. Similarly, at a number of Dún Laoighaire Court sittings, which were witnessed, all drivers were requested at the beginning of the court day to hand up their licence and, on conviction, the court clerk took all licence details manually. There is a huge discrepancy in this regard and it is disappointing that this difficulty continues, even though from 16 May 2012 last, all summonses were amended to inform drivers that they must produce their licences in court. I understand that, subsequently, courts put up notices to this effect about section 63 but, as campaigners note, this will make little difference if drivers are not being made to produce their licences and are not aware of the related fines for failure to do so.

The Courts Service staff are under extraordinary pressure due to the economic policies of the Government but this is a key area, given the significant increase in road fatalities over the past two months. Unfortunately, we are heading back to the higher figures we had in earlier years. The licence issue seems to be a geographical lottery. It is unfair, for example, that professional drivers, who may have acquired 12 points in the greater Dublin region, are put off the road and I am sure the Minister of State and other Members have had representations about what they would do for a living. However, there is a different standard in other parts of the country. District Courts should obey the law.

On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I thank the Deputy for raising the matter. As the Deputy will be aware, legislation in this area is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Section 63 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 provides that it is an offence not to produce a driving licence or permit and a copy of the licence or permit to the court when appearing to answer an accusation or a charge of commission of specified offences under the Road Traffic Acts 1961 to 2010. The Deputy will also appreciate that the courts are, subject to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and the conduct of any court case is a matter for the presiding judge.

Since May 2012, the Courts Service has put in place arrangements to ensure the summonses issued include wording to advise persons charged with an offence under the Road Traffic Acts to bring their driving licence together with a photocopy of the licence when they are attending court. The Minister is informed that the service has communicated with the Judiciary to facilitate an arrangement whereby defendants who appear before the court are requested in court to produce their driving licence and a copy thereof to the court registrar for the purpose of having the driving licence number recorded. In addition, registrars have been requested to record irrespective of whether the licence or a copy thereof was produced to the court. Where the driving licence number is recorded and on conviction, the details are provided to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The Courts Service has advised the Minister that the revised summonses issued from May 2012 began appearing in court lists in September 2012 and initial statistics show a small increase in the number of driving licence numbers collected since the new procedures were introduced. However, the service also informed the Minister that it is too early to draw definitive conclusions as the systems put in place require further time to become fully effective.
In relation to cases where the driving licence number has not been produced, the service has indicated it is continuing to evaluate the systems in place to ensure they are fully functional to provide the Garda Síochána, in due course, with the necessary information to initiate prosecutions. The service has informed the Minister that work is ongoing in this area and it has undertaken to provide a further update on the arrangements by the end of July 2013. The Minister will consider the matter further when he receives this report. He hopes the Deputy will appreciate that the every effort is being made by the Courts Service, as is proper, and in so far as is possible within its remit, to ensure the robustness of the systems in place to ensure compliance with the provisions of section 63 of the Road Traffic Act 2010.
On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I thank the Deputy for raising the matter. The Minister appreciates his interest in the administration of the courts.

I ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to contact me with information on how many penalty points have not been recorded on the national vehicle driver file as a result of the non-production of a driving licence, which is a scandal that has been ongoing for some time. In September last, the Minister informed me he would have a report on the implementation of section 63 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 by the end of November 2012. He subsequently stated the report would not be available until July 2013. What is the reason for this delay? Why can the information not be provided as soon as possible?

Has the Department of Justice and Equality made an effort to observe court proceedings, as the PARC group has done? PARC, a group of citizens who are making a social contribution by doing this work, sent a detailed submission on this matter to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, a few days ago and is seeking a prompt reply.

Similar problems to those I have described arise when drivers are disqualified in court for serious or repeat driving offences. In such circumstances, the driver sends his or her licence to the local motor tax office. Surely it would be better to produce the licence again in court?

The failure to implement section 63 is a huge waste of Garda resources. Gardaí do excellent work in bringing to court drivers who commit road traffic offences. While sanctions are applied, the courts system has let us down. Surely there is a case to answer in this regard in light of current controversies surrounding the operation of the Garda Síochána?

On the issue of insurance, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has indicated he will make the database containing information on penalty points available to insurance companies. Is this proposal not highly unfair, especially to drivers in regions where penalty points have been implemented given that it appears that drivers in some areas did not receive penalty points despite having committed offences? The Minister must examine this aspect of his proposal as it is grossly unfair.

As I indicated, the report to which the Deputy refers, or at least the relevant statistics, will be available in July 2013. The difficulty is that the procedures have not been in place for long enough to allow the data to be collated and properly presented. We all agree that the law and requirements should be applied uniformly across the State.

With regard to the Minister's role, the Deputy will acknowledge that he is doing everything in his power. He has emphasised to the Courts Service that a legal requirement is in place and should be enforced. However, the courts are subject only to the Constitution and law. The Minister does not have a supervisory role over the courts in the way that has been suggested and it is not open to him to supervise them in the way other people may monitor or keep on eye on them. He will, however, prepare the information in question and make it available in July. We must all accept that the system is still bedding down. The Deputy's view that there should be uniform and proper application of procedures and the law is shared by the Minister.

Garda Transport Data

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me an opportunity to discuss a matter of national interest, one which has been the subject of considerable scrutiny, discussion and, I regret, misinformation in this House and beyond. I am reminded of some of the comments made by Deputy Mattie McGrath on Garda transportation and the Garda fleet. What is the current position regarding the upgrading of the Garda fleet and other equipment gardaí require in the performance of their daily duties? Is it not the case that the previous Fianna Fáil led Administration put Garda lives at risk by allowing many Garda vehicles to become so run down that they would have failed the national car test?

Following the comments of the Taoiseach during Leaders' Questions yesterday, what provision has the Minister made to upgrade the Garda fleet? Will the Minister comment on the position he inherited on taking office in respect of Garda vehicles and equipment? Will he outline what are his plans to correct the mess he inherited and the timeframe for doing so? What works does he have planned in this regard? I am disappointed, given the serious nature of this issue and the problems the Minister inherited, that no Fianna Fáil Party Deputies are present to bear witness to this discussion, especially given some of the comments that have been made on the issue.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has asked me to thank the Deputy for raising this matter. Decisions on the provision and deployment of Garda transport are principally matters for the Garda Commissioner. Such decisions are based on the Commissioner’s identified operational requirements and the availability of resources.

At Garda divisional level, it is for the chief superintendent to make appropriate arrangements for the distribution of vehicles throughout the division in response to policing demands. The Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is crucial to the efficient management of the Garda fleet.

The Minister has been advised by the Garda authorities that the deployment of Garda transport is determined on the basis of ongoing analysis and review of the policing needs of each division to ensure resources are utilised to optimum advantage to meet the operational demands on the force. Garda patrol vehicles are taken out of service for a variety of reasons, including as a result of accidents or where the odometer reading reaches the safety limit set by the relevant manufacturer. In that regard, the safety of Garda personnel and members of the public is a priority for the Garda authorities.

The Minister has also been informed that there are 111 Garda vehicles attached to the Dublin metropolitan west division, of which 23 are allocated to the Clondalkin Garda district.

With specific regard to the issues raised by the Deputy, the Minister has been informed by the Garda authorities that the current allocation of vehicles provided for the Clondalkin district makes the best use of the available resources. In addition, they have indicated that a comprehensive policing service is being delivered within the district and to the communities it serves.

To provide some of the information sought by the Deputy, the Minister is aware of the demands placed on the Garda fleet. In this context, he made an additional €3 million available to the Garda towards the end of last year to enable the Garda Commissioner to procure a further 171 vehicles. This brought total investment in the fleet in 2012 to €4 million and resulted in a total of 213 new vehicles being procured during the year. The introduction of the most recently purchased transports is ongoing and the Deputy can be assured that the vehicles will be deployed as effectively as possible, in line with operational circumstances, including the policing needs of the Clondalkin district.

In addition, a further allocation of €5 million has been provided for the purchase and outfitting of Garda transport in 2013. This represents a considerable financial investment in Garda transport, particularly at a time when the level of funding available across the public sector is severely limited. It is a clear indication of the Minister's commitment to ensuring that, to the greatest extent possible, the Garda is supplied with the appropriate resources to enable it to provide an effective and efficient policing service.

I thank the Minister of State and ask him to convey my thanks to the Minister for Justice and Equality. Not only was the Minister of State's reply comprehensive, but it was also revealing. An additional €3 million was provided last year, the total figure being €4 million. In addition, an estimated €5 million will be provided in 2013. I am mindful of the pressures that the Minister and other Departments are under thanks to the limited resources available to them in trying to put our public finances in order, a situation inherited by the Government, while recognising the need to provide the Garda with additional resources, given the pressures facing many people in Dublin and beyond in terms of personal safety. I hope that the Minister of State's reply will put paid to unhelpful misinformation, which has been of little comfort.

Given the important days that are in it, I will make a point in conclusion. I have worked in community development, particularly the voluntary sector, for the past 35 years, including 14 years while in public life - two years in the Dáil and 12 years on a local authority. At all times during that period, I have worked closely with the Garda. While we are prioritising our work and putting our finances in order, I am saddened by the concerns expressed by many of the gardaí with whom I have worked and whom I respect. I know of their situations. It is important that everyone focuses on entering the discussions, leaving aside the placards and protests and giving the negotiations every possible opportunity. If everyone plays a part, there is every chance that we will have the opportunity to hear and find solutions to groups' concerns.

I cannot put the matter any further than the Deputy has. I emphasise that these are additional resources. Perhaps the most important resources required by the Garda to do the job we expect of it are mobile resources, given the nature of policing.

I am unsure of whether the provision on the record of accurate information is likely to put paid to the dissemination of inaccurate information. I share the Deputy's hope in that regard, but I will not hold my breath.