Éamon Ó CuívQuestion:
108. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it is planned to allocate extra members of An Garda Síochána with competent Irish to the western division to ensure that all members allocated to duties in the Gaeltacht will be fluent in Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11438/19]
As the Deputy is aware, the manner in which the resources of the Garda Síochána are deployed is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team and I, as Minister, have no direct role in this regard.
I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy on receipt of same.
The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No 108 for answer on Thursday, 7 March 2019. At the time, I responded that I would request the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and that I would write directly to you on receipt of same.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is solely the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are 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.
A Garda Síochána is fully committed to fulfilling the organisation’s obligations under the Official Languages Act and the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Section 33 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that the Commissioner shall determine the manner in which members of An Garda Síochána are to be distributed and stationed throughout the State. In carrying out this function the section further provides that the Commissioner shall to the extent practicable ensure that members of An Garda Síochána stationed in a District that includes a Gaeltacht area are sufficiently competent in the Irish language to enable them to use it with facility in carrying out their duties.
I am informed that the Commissioner seeks to meet this obligation by providing for a specialist Irish language stream in recruitment campaigns. I was pleased to note that the current Garda Recruitment Competition which closes on Wednesday 24 April 2019, has a special Irish Language stream whereby eligible applicants who are fluent Irish speakers may opt to be considered for inclusion in a specialist Irish language stream within the overall recruitment competition run by the Public Appointments Service. Candidates appointed from the Irish Language stream are expected to provide a full range of services in Irish and are allocated to Gaeltacht areas for a period of time as determined by the Garda Commissioner.
In addition all new recruits complete a Bachelor of Arts in Policing Studies which includes Irish language modules and ensures that trainees have the opportunity to improve their level of proficiency in the language.
I am advised that a Garda HQ Directive issued in September 2018 under which Sergeants and Gardaí interested in transferring to a Gaeltacht Garda Station must now pass an Oral Irish Proficiency Assessment so as to ensure that only members of these ranks that are fluent in Irish are permitted to serve in Gaeltacht stations. The Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga has viewed the new system and is satisfied that is an appropriate system for the organisation to determine a member’s ability to serve in a Gaeltacht station. When the new system of assessment is fully implemented it is expected that a panel will be formed from which members will be assigned to Gaeltacht Garda Stations as required.
I hope that this information is of assistance.