I thank both Deputies for raising this issue in the House today. This incident is very much at the forefront of our mind today and the incident referred to by the Deputies is completely unacceptable for those living in the local communities who have to put up with it. I agree with Deputies in condemning this in the strongest terms. What we saw was a blatant disregard for the law, for members of An Garda Síochána, who were going about their business but most importantly, for the people in the area who should not have to put up with this.
We will always support communities affected by antisocial behaviour and criminality. They are as appalled by what has happened as we are. We will also put supports in place to ensure that there are the services and facilities for young people in all of our communities.
Speaking from a justice perspective, however, and I will touch on what has been invested specifically in the Cherry Orchard area in the past year or so, but we have to do this in a comprehensive way in order that it is a Garda response but is also making sure that we have the other resources in place.
I have spoken to the Garda Commissioner and have asked him to look specifically at what more we can do to try to tackle and deal with this type of antisocial behaviour. To be clear, however, anyone who engages in this type of behaviour, in what were criminal acts last night with cars being stolen and with the types of incidents that were happening, must be punished and there must be repercussions at the end of the day. We cannot allow communities to live in this kind of fear. I also wish to convey my best wishes to the gardaí who were involved in the incident last night.
I agree that we are very lucky it did not result in a fatality, either of members of the Garda Síochána or members of the community, or even those who were driving the cars and causing the havoc we saw on social media. I would appeal to anybody in the area, as gardaí have been doing, to try to come forward.
I would like to outline some of the responses that have been happening because I do not think it is fair to say that nothing has happened in the past few months. I have spoken to gardaí following concerns that have been raised by Deputies in this House, including by my colleague, Senator Seery Kearney, and others. We have had Garda Operation Préachán in place since 20 August this year. This is a specific operation focusing on car-related crime and antisocial behaviour. Arising from that specifically, in the last few weeks seven arrests were made and seven individuals were brought before the courts and were placed under bail conditions, including curfews and other types of conditions. In the Cherry Orchard area specifically, responding to the concerns that people have raised and these types of incidents relating to cars, there have been seven arrests.
Separate from that, other issues have been raised in respect of antisocial behaviour. Local Garda management have tried to enhance their high visibility policing presence with the Dublin metropolitan region, DMR, public order unit over the weekends, although, as we saw, this incident happened on a Monday afternoon. That has to be kept continually under review with regard to where the resources are, when they are there and making sure they are visible. I have been informed by the Garda that there have been a number of meetings with community representatives to try to explore what more can be done, and also with regard to support from those like the armed response unit, the emergency response unit and the air support unit. However, we do not want it to get to a stage where these units have to come into communities, and it should never get to that stage.
The way to deal with it is the comprehensive response that I have mentioned, with more gardaí and resources. What I can say is that I am absolutely committed to increasing the number of gardaí. Templemore has reopened. While we have had challenges with Covid-19, we are now nearly at the stage where we will have 200 recruits in Templemore every 12 weeks. That will give rise to a significant increase in the numbers right across the country and in each area. The new Garda operating model will mean we have more front-line gardaí on the beat because HR, finance and desk work duties that can be done by civilians will be done in a more condensed way, allowing more front-line gardaí out on the beat.
In terms of dealing with more societal issues and supporting young people in particular, I want to highlight that in the last year €300,000 has been invested specifically in Cherry Orchard. There are two full-time youth justice workers, one part-time project manager, one family support worker and one early intervention worker. The CODY project just last year received funding of €62,000 to work with people involved in the antisocial use of scramblers, quad bikes and related crime.
What happened last night was unacceptable and it should not have happened. People should not have to put up with this. I believe the gardaí are doing what they can. Of course, we need to make sure they have more resources but we also have to look at this in terms of a holistic response and how we can engage with the community more. As the Deputies stated, it is about how we invest in community services and supports, looking at education and all of the various different preventative measures that are required.