The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.
Over the course of the last two years the Garda Commissioner has carried out a comprehensive review of the entire Garda station and District network. The objective of the review was to ensure that the best possible service continues to be provided to the public across the country. The Commissioner concluded that, in his professional opinion, a number of Garda stations could be closed and a number of Garda Districts could be amalgamated. I fully agree with the Commissioner's conclusions. 139 Garda stations were identified for closure and 30 Garda Districts were amalgamated into 15 new Garda Districts.
The Garda Commissioner has stated that the revised structures will continue to support the Garda community philosophy through the clustering of services at policing hubs. This centralisation of services will facilitate the introduction of enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, will provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities throughout the country. The objective will be to ensure that the best possible policing service will continue to be provided to our communities. The Garda Commissioner has also advised that closure of stations will result in some additional 61,000 patrolling hours being available for operational policing. I am confident that the Garda Síochána will continue to provide a professional policing service right across the country in a manner that is effective and is consistent with the highest standards for which the Force is renowned.