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Garda Strength

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 12 July 2017

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Questions (227, 230)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

227. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he expects Garda strength to increase over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33474/17]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

230. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the strength of An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33477/17]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227 and 230 together.

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that on 31 May 2017, the latest date for which figures are currently available, the strength of An Garda Síochána was 13,137. Taking account of projected retirements, reaching a strength of 15,000 by 2021 will require some 2,400 new Garda members to be recruited on a phased basis over the next three years in addition to the 2,000 recruited that will have been recruited by the end of this year since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014.

In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves. I am engaging with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, in relation to ensuring funding is available to allow sufficient recruitment into An Garda Síochána in 2018 and the coming years so that the planned overall Garda workforce of 21,000 is achieved.

This plan is progressing apace. I am informed by the Commissioner, since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, that almost 1,200 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am also informed that a further four hundred Garda recruits are scheduled to attest later this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end - an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.

This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources she needs to allow her to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, in the coming years.

This investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government's Capital Plan 2016 - 2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and I have no doubt that these new resources now coming on stream will see an increase in Garda visibility in our communities.

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