The statutory consultation that takes place between myself, as Minister, and the Commissioner on a draft plan has not started. I have absolutely no doubt that he is engaging in work with a view to developing a policing plan for 2013, and I do not think that matters simply stop and he does not direct his mind to this. I am not privy to any internal consultative process he may be engaged in within the Garda Síochána. I know he was engaged in a process in 2011 for the 2012 plan.
I am responsible for a lot of things, but happily I am not responsible for media reports on anything. That is just as well, based on the level of inaccuracy often seen in media reports. I have already stated that my Department has €100 million less available to it. Under the multi-annual budgeting position, we know we will have at least €60 million less in 2013 than we have in 2012. The Garda Commissioner has an obligation, bearing in mind the financial condition of the State and the amount of funds available to be allocated to Garda matters, to look at how to use resources to the maximum efficiency, to maximise Garda capabilities, to modernise where appropriate, as well as to engage in some restructuring of the force if he believes that will produce a more efficient police service for the benefit of the general public.
I am not privy to any of the rumours mentioned by the Deputy. In the run-up to the announcements about Garda stations, I recall reading in the media somebody projecting - this became theology within two weeks - that there would be 200 Garda stations closed at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012. That proved to be wildly inaccurate speculation in the media. I expect the Commissioner is engaged in some internal discussions. There may be different issues discussed with a view to assessing what steps might be taken, but I am not privy to any of that. I suggest that the Deputy should not rely on media reports.