Garda Operations

Questions (143)

Clare Daly

Question:

143. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent of co-operation that exists between MI5 and An Garda Síochána. [14400/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána maintains a close working relationship with the police and security services in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and, indeed, with their counterparts in other EU and third countries in respect of ongoing, international efforts to counter terrorism. I am sure the Deputy will understand that it would not be appropriate, for sound reasons of security, to elaborate in any detail on what might be entailed in the Garda authorities' relationship with other security and intelligence services.

Garda Deployment

Questions (144)

Joe Higgins

Question:

144. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way the community Garda service for the Hartstown, Huntstown, Blakestown and Mountview area of Dublin 15 will continue following recent redeployments of resources; and his views on the community Garda service for wider west Dublin area. [14412/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner, who is responsible for the distribution and allocation of personnel throughout the force, that the areas in question are covered by Blanchardstown Garda District. The personnel strength of Blanchardstown Garda District on 31 January 2014 was 353. There are also 31 Garda Reserves and 22 civilian staff assigned to the District. The Deputy will be aware that all Gardaí have responsibility, inter alia, to deal with community policing issues as and when they arise. Community policing is the underpinning philosophy and ethos through which An Garda Síochána delivers a service across the country. In that context, I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that there are 24 Gardaí specifically assigned to community policing duties in the Blanchardstown Garda District on 31 January 2014. This number includes two dedicated Sergeants who monitor the situation to ensure all community commitments are met.

The situation will be kept under review and paramount consideration is given to the needs of residents. Garda Management is satisfied that a full and comprehensive policing service is being delivered to the area concerned and current structures in place meet the requirements of the delivery of an effective and efficient policing service.

Garda Promotions

Questions (145)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

145. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when and how it is intended that vacancies in the ranks of sergeant, inspector and superintendent in An Garda Síochána will be filled. [14415/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that competitions are ongoing at present to fill vacancies in all three ranks specified. Interviews are being held at the moment in the Sergeant and Inspectors competitions. The Superintendents competition was advertised last month.

The sanctioned vacancies for each of the specified ranks will be filled with the successful candidates at the completion of the competitive process.

Garda Operations

Questions (146)

Finian McGrath

Question:

146. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on a matter (details supplied). [14418/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Clontarf Garda Sub-District.

I am further informed that a Community Garda is assigned to the area and regularly meets with local residents to address any issues that arise including the type of incidents referred to. The area is regularly patrolled by foot and mobile patrols including Mountain Bike patrols, augmented by the Divisional Task Force and Traffic Unit patrols.

Current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences and local Gardaí continue to work with relevant individuals and groups in this regard. Local Garda Management closely monitors patrols, and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the community in the area to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. I am further assured that the situation is being kept under review.

Court Accommodation Provision

Questions (147)

Tom Fleming

Question:

147. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will urgently address the deficiencies at Tralee courthouse (details supplied); if he will take into consideration the significant volume of public business conducted in this courthouse and arrange to have these issues resolved at an early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14422/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance, I have had enquiries made and I am informed that the Courts Service recognises that the conditions in Tralee Courthouse fall short of what is desirable in a modern courthouse. The Courts Service has stated that it is not possible to address all of the problems with Tralee courthouse because of the nature of the building and the restrictions of the site. However, the day to day problems are being addressed in so far as is possible within the resources currently available to the Court Service. The Courts Service has confirmed that it is addressing the immediate issues outlined by the Deputy in relation to the general cleanliness of the building and facilities.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (148)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

148. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Defence if the Government executive jet operated by the Defence Forces was searched this year before it took An Taoiseach to Washington for the St. Patrick's Day ceremony, as happened on 16 March 2008; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14260/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I can confirm that the Taoiseach’s flight earlier this month was not subject to any search prior to its departure from Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel en-route to Washington. I have been informed by the Air Corps that the US Customs pre-clearance carried out at Dublin Airport before the departure of the Ministerial Air Transport flight on 16 March, 2008 took place at the request of the Air Corps. This was to avoid possible logistical difficulties that may have arisen at the airport of arrival in the US, which had some restrictions in terms of its customs facilities. The pre-clearance procedure did not involve a search of the aircraft.

Defence Forces Retirement Scheme

Questions (149)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding retirement from the Army (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14364/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The unsatisfactory age and fitness profile of the Permanent Defence Force was an issue of serious concern during the 1990’s and was the subject of severe criticism by a series of external reports, mainly Price Waterhouse Consultants and the Efficiency Audit Group (EAG). One of the key areas identified for urgent action by the EAG was the development of a manpower policy with an emphasis on lowering the age profile of Permanent Defence Force personnel. The EAG’s report was accepted by Government in 1995. In an effort to alleviate the situation, the Government had already decided in 1993 to enlist personnel on a five year contract basis, following consultation with Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA). In 1997 agreement was reached with PDFORRA on a new manpower policy for the Defence Forces. This policy, applying to personnel enlisted after 1 January 1994, provided that service for Private Soldiers would initially be for five years with the option to be extended to a maximum of twelve years, subject to meeting standards of medical and physical fitness and conduct. Longer periods of service were envisaged for Non Commissioned Officers.

In 2004 PDFORRA submitted a claim under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for a further review of the terms of service applying to personnel enlisting in the Permanent Defence Force after 1 January, 1994. A set of criteria was agreed with PDFORRA to provide longer careers for those who enlisted post 1 January 1994 while continuing to address the Government’s objective of having an appropriate age profile to meet the challenges of a modern Defence Forces.

The criteria require that any person re-engaging after 12 years service must be able to continue to operate at their current level both at home and overseas on an ongoing basis. Re-engagement is subject to the individual soldier meeting specified criteria in regard to physical fitness, medical category, successful completion of military courses of instruction, service overseas and conduct ratings.

The maximum service period for these personnel is as follows:- enlisted Personnel, up to and including the rank of Corporal (and equivalent Naval Service rank), may not serve beyond 21 years service; enlisted Personnel, in the rank of Sergeant (and equivalent Naval Service rank), may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of fifty years; enlisted Personnel in all higher ranks may serve to the age of fifty-six.

With the approach of 2015 the first effects of the agreement, whereby Privates and Corporals may not serve beyond 21 years, will be felt by Permanent Defence Force members in those ranks. A claim has been received from PDFORRA for a further review in relation to this matter. In accordance with normal procedures the Association’s claim is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. As discussions under the Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time, other than to emphasise that in dealing with this issue the manpower and operational needs of the Defence Forces must be the primary consideration.

It is intended to finalise negotiations with the Representative Association within the next few weeks.