Criminal Prosecutions.

Questions (1)

John Deasy

Question:

1 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of arrests made and convictions secured over the past three years for possession of drugs with intent to supply; his views on whether the dealing, illicit trafficking and use of drugs is decreasing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6398/04]

View answer

Oral answers (5 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

Section 15 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 1984 deals with the possession of controlled drugs for the purposes of unlawful sale or supply. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of section 15 cases where proceedings commenced in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, respectively, are as follows:

Year

No. of cases

2000

1,706

2001

1,520

2002

1,530

The number of persons convicted for section 15 offences during these years are as follows:

Year

No. of convictions

2000

686

2001

366

2002

358

The comparative figures for 2003 are not yet available. The Garda Síochána annual reports for the above years provide more detailed information on the status of such section 15 cases within the criminal justice system at the time of publication of the reports. The Garda annual reports also provide detailed information on the type and quantity of illegal drugs seized annually by the gardaí.

Any assessment of trends in drug dealing, illicit trafficking and the use of illegal drugs must be made in the context of these activities being of a clandestine nature. However, what can be done to map trends is an analysis of the key pieces of information available to us which includes the Garda and Customs and Excise statistics and information and our drug treatment and drug research data

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government's overall policy to tackle the problem is set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. Responsibility for implementation of the strategy lies with my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Noel Ahern.

On the issue of drugs seizures in general, as the Deputy may be aware, a key performance indicator in the national drugs strategy is to increase the volume of opiates and all other drugs seized by 25% by the end of 2004 and by 50% by the end of 2008, using 2,000 seizures as a base. The Garda Síochana and the Customs and Excise service are achieving considerable success in regard to this target to date, and they are to be congratulated on their continued efforts. The available data on drug seizures is as follows. Garda seizures for 2000 amounted to €20 million; 2001, €45 million; 2002, €49 million and 2003, €100 million. Customs and Excise seizures for 2000 amounted to €11 million; 2001, €60 million; 2002, €34 million and 2003, €21 million.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

In terms of assessing overall trends in relation to drug use, the national advisory committee on drugs, NACD, the Government's research arm on the drugs issue, released two studies in 2003 on drugs prevalence. A study into opiate users, published last May, based on 2001 data, estimated that there are approximately 14,450 users in this jurisdiction, with just under 12,500 of those users estimated to be in Dublin. The estimate is based on statistics provided by three data sources for 2001 — the central drug treatment list, the hospital in-patient inquiry database and the national garda study on opiate misuse and related criminal activity.

This was the first formal estimate of opiate users undertaken since a 1996 study which used the same methodology but estimated prevalence for Dublin only. It is worth noting that while the figures are estimates, there is a marked decrease on the previously reported figure for opiate users in Dublin — 12,456 in 2001 compared with 13,461 in 1996. The fact that such a significant number of opiate users continues to exist among our communities remains an issue of major concern which leaves us with no room for complacency on this matter. However, the decrease in the Dublin figures is encouraging, as is the finding that the numbers of users in the 15 to 24 year old bracket has reduced substantially which may point to a lower rate of initiation into heroin misuse.

The second prevalence study released by the NACD during 2003 was a general population survey examining drug use in the whole island of Ireland. This survey, done in conjunction with the drug and alcohol information and research unit, DAIRU, in Northern Ireland, found that in Ireland, 19% of the respondents had used illegal drugs in their lifetime, 5.6% within the last year of their interview and 3% within the last month of their interview. These figures place Ireland broadly in line with European averages when compared to similar surveys undertaken across Europe.

This study gathered substantial further information which will be analysed over the coming months by the NACD, DAIRU and the drug misuse division of the Health Research Board. The report containing these figures is the first in a series of bulletins which will be published as the analysis is completed on over 150 questions relating to tobacco, alcohol and illegal drug use, as well as findings relating to specific drugs, attitudes, perceived availability of illegal drugs and attempts to modify behaviour by quitting drug use.

The Government recognises that drugs seizures, while very welcome, must only be one part of our overall strategy in fighting the drugs problem which remains one of the great social ills of our times. Apart from our continuing efforts on the drug supply control side, we need to constantly continue to develop our range of responses, addressing both the causes and consequences of the problem.

I put down the question because I visited Mountjoy last week — we all need to remind ourselves that the reason many people end up in jail in this country is largely due to the use of illegal drugs. The Minister referred to the figures relating to drug seizures. It is the case that the figures look good as opposed to two years ago.

The Minister gave two commitments when he took up office in June 2002. He said he would try to increase the number of seizures by 25% at the very least, which has happened. He also said he wanted the charges against people for possession of drugs with the intent to sell and supply them to increase by 50%, but according to the preliminary figures the level of such charges has dipped. That tells me that the message is not getting through to the people on the ground that there is a deterrent in place in regard to being found in possession of drugs with an intent to supply. The Minister needs to address sentencing policy in regard to drug dealers and not only for people who shift the drugs into the country. That message is not getting through to those people. It is clear that the ten year so-called minimum sentence brought in a few years ago has not been enforced by judges and that message is not getting through to the drug dealers. We suggested that the Minister should consider at least the imposition of a three-month minimum sentence for a first offence of possession of drugs with intent to supply.

I have some sympathy with what Deputy Deasy said. In regard to the ten-year mandatory sentence passed into law by this House, I am disappointed that the Judiciary has not taken to it in the way the House had intended. It is not being applied with the vigour the House had expected. The House will recall, and Deputy Deasy will be aware, that provisions were provided for in exceptional cases, but it seems that the exception is when the wish of this House is complied with. The Judiciary collectively should have regard to the proposition that this House put before it, namely, that for possession of drugs with intent to supply on a commercial basis, as defined in that statute, the norm was to be a ten-year sentence and that only in exceptional cases identified by the Judiciary should there be a lesser penalty. That has not happened, but that is something to which I will come back because I do not propose to lose sight of it.

The second point Deputy Deasy raised was the situation in prisons. I fully agree with him that the great majority of people in our prisons are there as a result of drug-related crime one way or the other. In that context, I signal to the House, and generally to the public, that the commitment in the programme for Government for the introduction of mandatory testing of prisoners and creating drug free prisons, as opposed to drug free units in prisons, is the way forward. There is no acceptable level of drugs in prisons. The notion of providing sterilising fluid and needles in prisons to abusing prisoners is anathema as far as I am concerned. I am not going to go down that road no matter what case is made for it by whomsoever.

I want to give two other figures about which there may be some optimism. The number of opiate users in Dublin, a city with an expanding population, is down from 13,461 in 1996 to 12,456 now but, more encouraging, the number of opiate users in the 15 to 24 age category is dramatically down compared to what it used to be. The figures in regard to abuse of drugs generally are not as bad as is being made out, but there is a strong drugs trade in Ireland. There is no doubt that the number of seizures represents an index of Garda activity on the one side, but it also represents an index of the volume of the trade from which these seizures are being made. Therefore, one cannot make simplistic conclusions about it.

May I ask a brief question?

No. We have gone well over the six minutes allocated for this question and we have already lost 15 minutes of Question Time due to the vote. I want to be fair to colleagues who are waiting to have questions answered.

Sexual Offences.

Questions (2)

Joe Costello

Question:

2 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the outcome of his meeting with the One in Four group on 13 February 2004; the reason the inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse in the Dublin diocese, announced by him in October 2002, has not yet been established; when he expects the inquiry to be established and operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6400/04]

View answer

Oral answers (16 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

On 13 February last I held a further meeting with three people representing those who have experienced sexual abuse. In common with all our previous contacts, the meeting was very useful and friendly. In my view, the most suitable and cost effective form of investigation in this instance is the model set out in the Commissions of Investigation Bill 2003, which I published and presented to the Dáil on 1 July 2003. I wrote recently to the Government Chief Whip seeking Dáil time as a matter of urgency for this particular Bill and she has assured me of her assistance in this matter. The Second Stage has been ordered for next week. I look forward to full co-operation from other parties in the House in passing the legislation and I welcome their recent statements reaffirming their support in progressing this vital legislation.

In parallel with work on the Bill, preliminary work has started on draft terms of reference for a commission to investigate the matter referred to in the Deputy's question, and I hope the proposed commission should be in a position to commence its work in September of this year, subject to the necessary legislation being in place.

As the Deputy is aware, a special Garda investigation team was set up in the national bureau of criminal investigation in October 2002 to investigate allegations of clerical child sex abuse. I sought an update from the Garda authorities in regard to this investigation and I am informed that a total of 14 files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions to date seeking directions as to criminal proceedings and a further 20 cases are currently being investigated — that is 34 in all. I am assured by the Garda authorities that all the allegations are being thoroughly investigated. Deputy Costello will appreciate that the matter of criminal prosecutions is a matter for the DPP.

I regret that it had to come to my tabling a question in the Dáil before we see action from the Minister in this regard. He said that the legislation was promised in July 2003 and he announced it on 3 December 2002, when he said he had announced he would establish an inquiry into the clerical abuse in the archdiocese in October 2002. Now he is at last getting Dáil time from the Chief Whip to introduce the legislation. That is out of line with what was reported in the media when the Minister said that the work could begin if Opposition parties supported the Bill, giving the impression when he met the One in Four group on 13 February that the reason the legislation was not being brought through the Dáil was because there was no support for it from the Opposition parties. In February 2003, I put on record that I would support the proposed scheme the Minister indicated he would bring forward. There is no question of the Opposition at any stage suggesting it would not be supportive of thistype of legislation on the commissions of investigation.

Why has the Minister made false and misleading statements as to why he has delayed so long in bringing forward an inquiry into the abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin, that was highlighted initially in the "Cardinal Secrets" programme and on "Prime Time" on RTE 18 months ago? Why is it that as a result of that, the Roman Catholic Church, which had set up the Irish Catholic Church independent commission in December 2002, disbanded the commission because of the Minister's commitment? Judge Gillian Hussey stood down. The commission which had been set up for six months has not been sitting for thepast 50 months because of the Minister's commitments which were never delivered on.

I made no false or misleading statements in private or in public. I indicated, as is the case, that on 1 July last I published the Bill, which has not yet received its second reading in this House. The reason for that must be plain to everybody. I am not accusing Deputy Costello, Deputy Deasy or anybody in this Chamber of responsibility in that regard, and have not done so. I have not suggested that is the responsibility of the Opposition parties.

The Minister said the legislation is not supported by the Opposition.

No, I did not. What I said, and reiterate clearly now, is that I have 13 important Bills which cannot get an adequate and expeditious hearing in this House.

That is not our fault.

The constant cry from Deputy Costello is that it is not his fault. Every day in this House between half an hour and an hour is wasted discussing whether we should discuss matters. That is what happens. Every day we have votes on the Order of Business and we sit here answering inane questions about what will and will not happen. If we added up all the hours spent every week on the Order of Business wasting time and devoted that time to dealing with a Second Stage debate, this legislation would be law already.

On a point of order——

The Deputy will get to ask his supplementary question in a second.

What the Minister said was that the work could start if Opposition parties supported the Bill.

That is not a point of order. The Deputy stated that earlier.

The Minister is still misleading the House.

Allow the Minister to conclude on this question, please. We lost 15 minutes on the vote.

I do not draw a Jesuitical distinction between supporting the Bill and making provision for it to be heard. The Bill was published on 1 July 2002. I like going through the legislative process. It is one of the aspects of politics that I like. I am not shy of it, but this House seems to spend more time talking about what it is not doing than getting on with what it should be doing. I will not retract that point. I strongly believe in it.

Will the Minister ask the Chief Whip to get the legislation on the floor of the House?

As with Deputy Deasy's question, we have taken more than six minutes on this question and have already lost 15 minutes with the vote.

Garda Equipment.

Questions (3)

Ciarán Cuffe

Question:

3 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the plans of the Garda Síochána in relation to the use of non-lethal technology; and if he will make a statement on whether such technology has been studied for employment here. [6396/04]

View answer

Oral answers (7 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Government noted, on 19 November 2002, my proposal to authorise the introduction of the following "less lethal" weapons for use by the Garda emergency response unit where this is necessary to avoid the use of firearms: bean bag shot, which is effectively a bag filled with shot fired from a shotgun so that it does not penetrate the body but delivers a blow with the intention of temporarily incapacitating the person — it is in effect a flying purse of lead shot; pepper spray device, a special aerosol projector designed to deliver a directional pepper spray to a distance of 25 to 30 feet — it could possibly be useful in this House; and ferret pepper spray shot, a shotgun cartridge device that is intended to penetrate a door or window and deliver pepper spray inside.

Before approval was sought for the introduction of these devices, the internal procedure within the Garda Síochána involved a report being compiled by a working party consisting of members of the Garda Síochána. To fully assess the requirements for the force the working party needed to consult other police forces in a confidential manner on the operation and use of such "less lethal" weapons. Confidential consultation was also required with suppliers and manufacturers. The Garda Commissioner consequently established an implementation team which is now finalising the acquisition of these items with the training syllabus to be undertaken by selected members of the Garda Síochána.

I am obviously aware that there is a need for changing and modernising the weapons used by the Garda Síochána. I hope there will be consultation with other interested groups, such as civil liberties organisations, which have a wide range of international experience. Does the Minister intend to have wider consultation with the public or with NGOs such as civil liberties organisations? I would like to know if this array of weaponry includes the kind of equipment that could be used in a hostage situation. There are other solutions that could be used to subdue or overcome aggressors in such cases. I wonder if the Garda Síochána would be able to expand the range of instruments available to it so that it could have effective tools to defuse matters in a hostage situation.

A number of the points raised by the Deputy are the subject of consideration on the terms of reference on the Barr tribunal. I emphasise that the three types of less lethal weapons to which I referred are to be given to the Garda emergency response unit in substitution for firearms. From a civil liberties and individual rights point of view, we are talking of giving the Garda alternatives to using firearms. I appreciate that some of these less lethal weapons can be dangerous, but there is nothing as dangerous as the use of firearms in terms of the armoury available to the Garda Síochána. What we want to do, and what the Garda Commissioner is anxious to do, is to provide equipment less lethal than firearms for the Garda to use in appropriate circumstances. Obviously, the best solution involves persuasion by means of megaphones and so on, and psychology and counselling, when dealing with the difficult situations to which the Deputy refers.

Some people, and indeed some police forces, have criticised these less lethal weapons, saying that they can be dangerous if improperly used or used in circumstances where the outcome is not as clear as that intended by the user. I accept that, but some of the criticism of these items has come from police forces which use the plastic bullet. They say that those bullets also involve problems. Since we do not use the plastic bullet in this jurisdiction, the Garda is making a fair judgment in saying that this less lethal technology is preferable to plastic bullets and to firearms in general.

The Minister might just clarify the consultation issue. Has the Garda been given permission to use these weapons or will there be consultation with the general public?

It is open to any civil liberties group to express views on these matters, and I will pay close attention to any such views. A formalised consultation process has not been put in place. If we are replacing firearms with this sort of technology, we are talking about cases where lives are at issue, so lengthy consultation with civil liberties groups is not entirely necessary since these weapons are confined to the emergency response unit and are intended as a substitute for firearms. I do not think any civil liberties group would urge the use of firearms in preference to less lethal weapons.

I welcome that, but there are concerns in the United States about these items being bad technology.

I have no doubt that there are. Any technology of this kind cannot be entirely devoid of risk.

Firearms Licences.

Questions (4)

John Deasy

Question:

4 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the policy on the issuing of licences for 0308 firearms and other similar armaments; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this policy prevents marksmen from representing Ireland internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6399/04]

View answer

Oral answers (7 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Deputy will appreciate that there is a difficult balance to be drawn between, on the one hand, having a firearms policy which seeks to limit the availability of particular classes of firearm for reasons of public safety and national security and, on the other hand, endeavouring to meet the requirements of those who wish to participate in international shooting competitions.

Since 1972 the general approach has been that the use of all rifled firearms of a calibre exceeding .22 inches and all handguns should be curbed. It was the view of successive Ministers for Justice that public safety and security was best served by that approach as it was designed particularly to make it more difficult for pistols, revolvers and heavy calibre rifles to come into the hands of those who would misuse them, not least in the context of the then prevailing security situation. The policy has not been inflexible in that in 1993 the then Government authorised an increase in the calibre of firearms which might be licensed for deer culling and competitive target shooting from .22 inch to .270 inch.

Granting firearms certificates, which authorise possession, use and carrying of a firearm, is a matter at the discretion of Garda superintendents in accordance with the relevant legislation. The Supreme Court found in May 2002 that in exercising that statutory function, superintendents could not be subject to directions from the Garda Commissioner. However, where a licence is required for the importation of firearms this, under law, is a matter for the Minister, and the long-standing policy would exclude the issuing of a licence for the importation of the type of firearm referred to by the Deputy.

I have heard from and met people who consider that policy antiquated. I can see some considerable force — this is a view which Deputy Deasy might share — in the proposition that the real danger to Irish society probably does not come from misappropriated sporting firearms or competitive shooting firearms, and that the prevalence of firearms and their availability from other sources is probably much more obvious as a problem than this particular problem. I want to review the position and address the difficulties that competitive shooters currently encounter.

I appreciate the response. The problem is that this has been going on for about five or six years. The Minister spoke of balance in the policy, but there does not appear to be much of that. There does not seem to be much common sense here. A European champion applied for a licence and he poses no threat to national security, yet he was not allowed a licence.

This is officialdom gone mad on drugs. It is crazy that somebody like Nicholas Flood — we do not have many European champions — cannot get a certificate for a 0308 firearm. There must be some way out for those people who represent Ireland in these shooting competitions. The Minister informs me that neither he nor the Garda Commissioner has the power to direct a superintendent in this case. The person concerned has been informed that the superintendent has consulted his superiors and that they have said "no". It is does not make sense; this is madness. He is caught in a bureaucratic minefield — a crazy tangle of bureaucracy and officialdom.

Somebody needs to step in and make sense of this. It does not seem the gardaí are willing to do that. The Minister must address this from a common-sense standpoint. I appreciate the Minister said he will review this but, in the meantime, this country is losing money by not being able to hold these events. Somebody must step in, make sense of this and provide a way out for these people who represent our country.

I agree with Deputy Deasy. The situation at present is unduly conservative and a political steer is needed. I confess that I met some of the relevant interests over a year ago and promised them early action. For one reason or another, I have been blown off course on that issue.

The Opposition was not co-operative, I presume.

I am glad Deputy Costello is interrupting me while I am admitting to fault. An intelligent, common-sense approach will make for a situation which would be more satisfactory. I share Deputy Deasy's view that people engaging in a competitive sport recognised at Olympic level and the like should not face insuperable or impossible odds on a domestic legislation front just because they live in Ireland, which is not wholly different from any other society in the world in terms of the firearms issue, when we all just wish them well when they go abroad to represent the State.

The Minister said he will undertake a review. How soon will he do so? These people have been put on the long finger for years.

I will stick my neck out and say that I will ask my officials to set in train a review with a view to coming to a firm decision by mid-summer of this year.

Community Policing.

Questions (5)

Finian McGrath

Question:

5 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason the number of community gardaí in the Coolock Garda district, Dublin 5, has decreased by half over the past six years; if he will take steps to ensure the restoration of this Garda community unit to its previous strength; his views on community policing in tackling anti-social behaviour, joy-riding and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6440/04]

View answer

Oral answers (9 contributions) (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

Community policing initiatives make a significant contribution to combating joy-riding and to reducing anti-social behaviour in Coolock and other areas. Community policing initiatives provide a forum for the evolution of crime prevention programmes and for joint enterprises between the community and the local gardaí in combating local policing problems.

Community policing initiatives have, furthermore, consolidated the partnership approach to policing in the community through which the gardaí liaise with community groups and a number of projects are in operation which have proved effective in dealing with the scourge of joy-riding, which has been a particular problem in the Coolock area.

With regard to projects in the Coolock area, the Woodale project caters for persons at risk from either crime or anti-social activity. This project, which is a Coolock Garda initiative funded by my Department, caters for 18 juveniles who have been referred through the juvenile liaison officer scheme and the probation and welfare service. The objective of the project is to divert youths involved in anti-social behaviour and joy-riding through involvement in a range of pursuits designed to improve behaviour and social skills. The catchment area for the project is Darndale and Priorswood. Since the inception of this project, which has been successful, a number of participants have returned to full-time education while others have developed computer and literacy skills. The success of the programme is such that it is actively supported by the parents of those involved.

The capacity of the Dublin metropolitan north divisional force to respond to car crime and anti-social behaviour is under continuous review and is dealt with locally by Garda management. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act is actively enforced to address anti-social behaviour should it arise. In this regard, I have been informed by the Garda authorities that the number of car thefts and crimes involving cars unlawfully in the possession and use of persons of a criminal disposition has been reduced substantially in the past six months. Proactive policing in the area where this type of crime is frequent has been central to this success.

On the question of resources, I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is a sufficient number of gardaí available to patrol the Dublin metropolitan northern division.

I thank the Minister for his response. Is he aware of the huge anti-social and crime problems that exist in our society? Surely community gardaí must be part of the solution. Is the Minister aware that, in part of my constituency in 2003, more than €20 million worth of drugs were confiscated and more than 278 people were arrested for drugs related offences? Is he aware of the considerable anti-social and community intimidation problems that exist in some estates where people are terrified to speak out? In the 1980s, communities fought back but it now seems the stuffing has been knocked out of them. There is a lack of confidence, especially given the shootings and murders. Will the Minster get the gardaí to do their job and urge the Government to increase the number of community gardaí and not cut back as has happened in Coolock where the number has been reduced from 12 to six over the past six years?

What would the Minister say to a disabled constituent of mine who must suffer bullying and intimidation each night after 7 p.m., whose door has been kicked in and who is threatened more when she calls the gardaí? What would he say to this woman who feels our justice system has let her down? Does the Minister agree that we can have all the Bills in the world but that, if this woman is not assisted, he has failed as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and our justice system has failed to be effective? Some of the policing forums, particularly in the south inner city, are collapsing due to lack of resources and funding. Will the Minister respond to that point as well?

The Garda Síochána has never been better funded than it has while I have been Minister. Record resources have been allocated in real terms. This year a much higher than normal allocation was given to the Garda Síochána because of my absolute determination that adequate resources should be made available to it. I fully accept what Deputy McGrath said that, in the Coolock area, there has been a diminution in the level of policing because the figures are there to support what he said.

From 12 to six.

That is in community policing. There has been a strengthening of other forces, such as the specialist units, which support the fight against crime. It is a matter for Garda management to allocate resources within the Garda Síochána. I assure the Deputy that my policy and that of the Commissioner — we are not at odds on this — is to get as many people as possible into frontline policing, to get people out of the courts processing paper and the like and to get them into policing activities as much as we can.

I am fully aware that the task force in the R district — the Darndale, Moatview and Belcamp joy-riding task force set up in 1998 — has involved the community and has had considerable success. There has been a diminution in some of the activities, although obviously not in the bullying experienced by the lady to whom the Deputy referred. I was concerned by what he said about her. The function of the task force was to close off areas where joy-riding was happening, to narrow junctions and to raise plinth walls and the like to make the physical environment for that type of motor crime less conducive.

I fully accept legislation is not everything — a point Deputy Deasy makes — and that management is important. The long-awaited strategic management initiative report on managing Garda resources was eventually given to me today. The provision in the forthcoming Garda Bill for the involvement of elected local representatives and for forums between them and the Garda Síochána is a decisive step forward which will have a dramatic effect in changing the relationship between local communities and the Garda Síochána over time.

Will town councils be included?

I have not decided.

I wish to praise the role of community gardaí and I do not accept their numbers should be cut from 12 to six. The drugs squad and other Garda sections in the Coolock area need resources and sometimes they have to re-deploy. I accept all these realistic options but I am concerned that if community gardaí are removed, the confidence and support of the local community will be lost. Dozens of children from violent and dysfunctional families on the northside of Dublin need help. Part of the process of helping them is achieved through the use of community gardaí. If we do not intervene soon, they will become involved in serious crime in future.

I agree with what the Deputy has said.