Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Questions (44)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

44. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the capital investment being made in Garda resources in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22399/18]

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Written Answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

However I have been informed by the Garda authorities that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources. I am informed by the Commissioner that in regard to the deployment of Garda personnel, a distribution model is used which takes into account all relevant factors including population, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Garda division.

Furthermore when allocations are taking place, comprehensive consultation is carried out with local management. Where a deficiency in resources is identified the matter is considered fully and addressed accordingly.

There has been very significant investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years and some relevant details for counties Cavan and Monaghan are as follows.

Buildings and accommodation

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that during the period since March 2016, minor maintenance and refurbishment works were approved in the Cavan/Monaghan Division in the following Garda stations: Bailieboro, Ballyconnell, Blacklion, Carrickmacross, Castleblayney, Cavan, Emyvale, Kingscourt, Monaghan, and Rockcorry.

Under the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021, a new Garda station in Bailieborough will be constructed. I understand that the OPW is now finalising planning documentation in relation to a site acquired and a Part 9 Planning application is expected to be lodged in the next number of weeks. Until planning, the required public procurement process and contract award are completed, it is not possible to give a definitive date for completion of the construction of the new station.

In advance of the development of a new station for Bailieborough, essential remediation works at the existing Garda station were also completed in 2016. These works involved enhancements to the public office and safety improvements throughout the building.

The OPW advises that it is planning to replace the windows in Monaghan Garda Station later this year under its planned Fabric Upgrade Programme.

Separate to the above Programmes, I am informed that An Garda Síochána seeks to address maintenance issues, including any refurbishment works, as they arise liaising closely with the OPW in this regard. The progression of any scheme of works is subject to the funding available and the competing accommodation priorities within An Garda Síochána.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to a pilot scheme to reopen 6 Garda stations, both urban and rural, to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order.

The Garda Commissioner's final report in that regard recommends that Bawnboy Garda Station in Co. Cavan be included in the pilot and the OPW and Garda Commissioner are engaging in relation to the works and estimated cost involved.

Garda Fleet

As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of Garda vehicles are a matter for the Garda Commissioner in the light of his identified operational demands and the availability of resources. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.

The Government's Capital Plan 2016 – 2021 provides €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet, to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and this is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015. In total, in the period 2013 to 2017, almost €44 million has been invested in the fleet.

I am advised that the strength of the Garda Fleet in the Cavan/Monaghan Division as at 31 March 2018 is 59 vehicles.

Provision has been made to purchase an additional 25 vehicles for the Northern Region in 2018. The exact allocation of these vehicles will be determined by Assistant Commissioner for the Northern Region in accordance with operational policing priorities following delivery of these vehicles.

I understand that the allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed by the Garda authorities on a continual basis. The responsibility for the efficient deployment of all official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations as required by operational requirements.

Procurement

I am informed that where additional resources such as equipment including office equipment and furniture are required, applications are made by individual stations through the Divisional office to Garda Procurement.

For example, in respect of 2017 and to date in 2018 furniture and flooring was purchased for Monaghan, Carrickmacross and Bailieborough Garda Stations totalling €30,000.

All Garda operational members, including, members from Cavan/Monaghan Division have access to an on-line’ application system via the Garda intranet Portal for operational uniforms, and where they have a requirement for these items, applications are processed via this system. Procurement also processes requests from members for specialist uniform and equipment, including for example personal protective equipment, footwear, motorcycle uniforms, and epaulettes. It is not possible in the time available to identify the breakdown of such applications which relate to counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Finally, I am informed that where there is a requirement for additional IT infrastructure these applications are processed centrally via Garda ICT.