School Equipment

Questions (288)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

288. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the rules regarding preferred suppliers of computer technology in schools in cases in which only one supplier is allowed to be purchased from by parents. [24243/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Decisions regarding the use and deployment of digital technology in schools is a matter for the Board of Management of each school. Where the introduction of digital devices is planned, consultation with members of the school community including parents is advised. The cost and other implications must be fully considered by the Boards of Managements before a decision is made. It is important for schools, in conjunction with parents, to retain local autonomy for decisions on the use of digital technology, including tablet devices, laptops, and learning platforms, and how best to manage their integration into classroom practice reflective of their own context and requirements. In making this decision each school should refer to and reflect on the available information.

All purchasing undertaken by schools of exhequer provided funding must be in compliance with Public Procurement Procedures.  Existing ICT purchasing Frameworks are in place operated by the Office of Government procurement for Desktop PCs/Notebooks/etc, with appropriately defined technical specifications.  These Frameworks should be engaged with and taken advantage of as they simplify the process of purchasing ICT equipment for schools.

The Schools Procurement Unit (SPU) which is the central support resource for providing guidance to all primary and post-primary schools (except ETB schools) on any procurement-related issues. The SPU delivers free advice and practical support to schools to help them achieve improvements in their procurement processes, practices and outcomes.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers Technology in Education (PDST-TIE) offers advice to schools and have developed an advice sheets on digital technology in education, including on the adoption of Laptops and tablets in schools. The information on their website outlines what these devices can offer schools to support teaching, learning and assessment, and facilitate students' active learning and collaboration. Specific items for consideration including software and hardware requirements, purchasing regulations, are addressed in the support information.

I am keenly aware of the challenges faced by educators and parents, in relation to costs incurred, and my Department continues to work to help support schools and families meet these costs. In 2017 a circular letter issued to schools with measures to be adopted to reduce the cost of school uniforms and other costs. This circular also instructed schools to consult with parents and their school community on the issue of ensuring costs are reasonable for parents, and how to avoid costs acting as a barrier. This circular specified that wherever possible, generic rather than branded items should be specified (e.g. uniform, clothing, IT tablets, sports equipment etc.).

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, sets out a plan to embed the use of digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment, and affirms that the use of digital technology can enhance the teaching and learning experience. The Strategy recognises that schools require investment in their ICT infrastructure. Funding of €210m has been committed to support the implementation of this strategy with €60m issued to schools over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years and a further €45m recently issued to schools in respect of the 2018/19 school year.

School Textbooks

Questions (289)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

289. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether notes written by teachers and stored on databases such as (details supplied) are an adequate replacement for textbooks. [24244/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at post-primary, determined by the NCCA, the decisions on which textbooks to use, if any, in primary and post-primary schools are taken at school level. My Department does not generally approve, commission, sponsor or endorse educational textbooks or other materials. 

The only requirement from the Department, on any resource used in a school, is that it covers the curriculum. Decisions on support materials, including textbooks and other resources, to assist teachers in mediating the curriculum to students are best taken at school level to reflect their particular context and requirements.

As such, decisions on the use of digital technology are a matter for individual schools and therefore the Department, does not endorse or promote any particular products or publications, professional consultants or companies, including textbooks.  

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015–2020 reflects the Department’s current policy on the embedding of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment in primary and post primary schools. It sets out a clear vision that is focussed on realising the potential of digital technologies to transform the learning experiences of students by helping them become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens who participate fully in society and the economy. The Strategy is the result of extensive research and consultation and reflects the views of education stakeholders including young people.

 A total of €50 million investment in ICT infrastructure for all primary and post primary schools under the Digital Strategy was announced in March this year. This was the third tranche of funding and brings total spend so far to €110m.

Schools are supported to develop a Digital Learning Plan, and have flexibility to determine how best to embed the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning in their school, taking into account their individual circumstances and contexts. Guidance for schools on developing their Digital Learning Plan can be found at https://www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/en/Planning/. Information on the Digital Learning Framework, a tool to support schools in embedding the use of digital technology in teaching and learning, can also be found at that link.

Junior Cycle Reform

Questions (290)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

290. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools involved as junior cycle technology leads from 2012; and the reviews that have taken place as a result. [24245/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am unclear as to what you are asking.  I have conferred with the NCCA, JCT and the Inspectorate and all have asked for clarification on the question.

Digital Strategy for Schools

Questions (291)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

291. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the outcome of reviews of schools involved as pilot or lead schools in the digital learning framework. [24246/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Digital Learning Framework (DLF)  for Schools, developed in 2017 and which is currently being disseminated to all schools, was trialled in a cross sectoral representation of 50 schools during the 2017/2018 school year accompanied by an external evaluation conducted by the Education Research Institute (ERC).

The ERC Evaluation Report, available at http://www.erc.ie/programme-of-work/dlf/, concluded that overall the DLF trial was a success. Feedback from schools participating in the trial was very positive. There was evidence of improvement to embedding Digital technologies in teaching. Learning and assessment in the short six-month period of the trial. The DLF and the related CPD resources were viewed positively. The ERC made a number of suggestions for improvements and those were incorporated into the final Framework document which is currently being disseminated to all schools. My Department has also commissioned the ERC to conduct a more longitudinal study of the DLF of a three year duration. This study commenced in January 2019.

On a more general note, the DLF supports the Digital Strategy for Schools and other Department policies in a number of key areas including curriculum reform and implementation, skills development, teacher education and learner outcomes. It provides a Roadmap to help schools embed the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning and in leadership & management. The Framework promotes student engagement in the teaching and learning process whereby students become engaged thinkers, active and discerning learners and where digital interactions are respectful and positive and conductive to wellbeing.  The DLF supports and complements the School Self Evaluation (SSE) process and will allow schools to evaluate their own progress and measure where they stand against benchmarks of effective and highly effective practices in the use of digital techniologies in teaching and learning and leadership and management. The dissemination of the DLF, which is currently underway, is supported by an intensive CPD Framework including national seminars, webinars, online courses and direct school support. The Framework is also accompanied by Digital Learning Planning Guidelines, a comprehensive set of guidelines for schools on the implementation of the DLF including the development of a Digital Learning Plan.

More information on the DLF can be found at https://www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/en/Planning/Digital-Learning-Framework-and-Planning-Resources-Primary

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (292)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

292. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the start date for construction of an extension at a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow is July 2019; if so, the target completion date; if the start date is no longer July 2019, the new estimated commencement date; the reason for the July commencement date to be missed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24250/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

This project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b (Detailed Design) which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Design Team is currently in the process of completing the Stage 2(b) report which is expected to be submitted shortly through the Board of Management to the Department for review. The completion of Stage 2b has taken longer than anticipated and the Department awaits completion in order to move forward.

However, in order to expedite the project the Department has authorised the school and its design team to commence the pre-qualification of contractors’ process. This will allow the pre-qualification process to run in parallel with the receipt, review and approval of the Stage 2(b) report.

Upon receipt, review and approval of the Stage 2(b) report and completion of the pre-qualification process this project will then be progressed to tender stage.

School Transport Applications

Questions (293)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

293. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on a post-primary school bus application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24263/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of my Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

A decision regarding the establishment of a new bus service to the school in question will be finalised when all applicants for the 2019/20 school year have submitted their payment details to Bus Éireann; the closing date for providing this information is 26th July 2019.

The terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

School Staff

Questions (294)

Denis Naughten

Question:

294. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address the unique grounds for the retention of a third mainstream teacher further to previous correspondence with regard to teaching posts at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24273/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board.

The Small Schools appeal criterion allows ordinary schools with 4 teachers or less to appeal on the basis of projected enrolment for the coming September.  In the case of the school referred to by the Deputy, a projected enrolment of 51 for September 2019 is required to fulfill the appeal criteria.  The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an appeal to the March meeting of the Primary Staffing Appeals Board but as the school projects an enrolment less than 51, the appeal was deemed ineligible.

The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

School Equipment

Questions (295)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

295. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the policy regarding the particular tablet (details supplied) only policies in schools. [24283/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Decisions regarding the use and deployment of digital technology in schools is a matter for the Board of Management of each school. Where the introduction of digital devices is planned, consultation with members of the school community including parents is advised. The cost and other implications must be fully considered by the Boards of Managements before a decision is made. It is important for schools, in conjunction with parents, to retain local autonomy for decisions on the use of digital technology, including tablet devices, laptops, and learning platforms, and how best to manage their integration into classroom practice reflective of their own context and requirements. In making this decision each school should refer to and reflect on the available information.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers Technology in Education (PDST-TIE) offers advice to schools and have developed an advice sheets on digital technology in education, including on the adoption of Laptops and tablets in schools. The information on their website outlines what these devices can offer schools to support teaching, learning and assessment, and facilitate students' active learning and collaboration. Specific items for consideration including software and hardware requirements, purchasing regulations, are addressed in the support information.

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, sets out a plan to embed the use of digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment, and affirms that the use of digital technology can enhance the teaching and learning experience. The Strategy recognises that schools require investment in their ICT infrastructure. Funding of €210m has been committed to support the implementation of this strategy with €60m issued to schools over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years and a further €45m recently issued to schools in respect of the 2018/19 school year.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (296)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

296. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a school (details supplied) for special needs assistants will be granted; and if a special needs assistant review will be carried out in the school. [24284/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school. 

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.  

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with.  Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

As this question relates to a particular school and children, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

Special Education Review

Questions (297)

Willie Penrose

Question:

297. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to review the eligibility rule in relation to special needs schools (details supplied); the steps he will take to ensure that this anomaly is rectified and the same rules would pertain to special needs schools as pertain to mainstream schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24348/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Special Schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with complex special educational needs from the age of 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

Some people with a disability, over the age of 18, and who have complex needs, may require specialised support throughout their lives.  Ongoing care and support services within the community, in a post school setting, are provided by voluntary or statutory organisations; responsibility for such care and support rests with the HSE. 

Special school staff typically have extensive engagement with parents, HSE multi-disciplinary teams and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which involves planning for the child’s future, including options for further education, training, employment or other placement options subject to the child’s abilities, including the young person’s transition to adult services when they reach the age of 18 years. 

It is important to note that students who transfer to adult service settings can continue to participate in educational programmes through further adult educational programmes or in adult settings which are allocated resources towards educational provision.

A special school may, subject to application, retain students over the age of 18 years who are pursuing courses leading to accreditation at level 3 or above of the National Qualifications Framework (Junior Certificate/Leaving Certificate Applied/FETAC 3); for an additional year in order to complete these courses. 

Subject to the fulfilment of the criteria outlined above, special schools are invited to make applications, in January each year.  My Department may then exempt the school from the provisions of Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools for a student.

Additional associated services for students over the age of 18, such as school transport, capitation and teaching resources, will only be considered in respect of those students for whom an exemption from Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools has been granted by the Department of Education and Skills, allowing the school to retain such students for an additional school year.

The status of special schools is that of primary national schools.

Special schools are therefore required to operate in accordance with the Rules for National Schools.

Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools, states that a pupil may not be retained on the rolls, after the eighteenth anniversary of his (her) birth.

The approval of the Department is therefore required for special schools to seek an exemption from the provisions of Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools, in order to retain the pupil for an additional year beyond age 18.

This rule also applies to any mainstream primary national school who would seek to retain a pupil over the age of 18.

In relation to classes in National Schools Receiving Instruction in the Post Primary Programme, Rule 52 (c) of the Rules and Programmes for Post Primary Schools also applies, which states that the attendance of any pupil after the date of attaining the age of 18 years cannot be included in the returns in respect of which payment is made from the grants administered by the Primary Branch of the Department.

Whereas pupils attending post primary schools may be allowed to complete a course which they have commenced prior to reaching age 18, the Rules and Programmes for Post Primary Schools to not provide for indefinite or ongoing attendance of such pupils who are aged over 18.

Education Grants

Questions (298)

Willie Penrose

Question:

298. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the special rates of grants for disadvantaged students in which the income for the tax year January 2018 must not exceed €24,000; if the limit for the said reckonable income is increased for two additional family members who are pursuing full-time education courses and in which ensuring that the said household which has income of €26,200 would qualify for the disadvantaged students special rate of maintenance grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24351/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education made detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students.

The target group of "those most in need" was defined in terms of the dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, where the necessary conditions are fulfilled. Thence, the income threshold for the special rate of grant is aligned with the highest rate of social welfare support for the Old Age (Contributory) Pension. For the 2019/20 scheme, the threshold was increased from €23,500 to €24,000 to reflect the Budget 2018 increases in the Old Age Pension.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for SUSI to determine. In assessing an application for the 2019/20 academic year, SUSI will have regard to the following qualifying criteria for the special rate of maintenance grant:

1. The student must qualify for the standard rate of grant;

2. Total reckonable income, after income disregards and Child Dependant Increase(s) are excluded, must not exceed €24,000;

3. As at 31st of December 2018, the reckonable income must include one of the eligible long-term social welfare payments prescribed in the Student Grant Scheme.

Whilst a student may not eligible for the special rate of maintenance grant, s/he may still qualify for other grant supports.

Apart from the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Crime Prevention

Questions (299, 366)

John Curran

Question:

299. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his strategy to prevent young persons entering a life of crime in view of the recent gangland killings in Dublin and the warning of the Garda Commissioner to young persons not to choose a life of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24137/19]

View answer

John Curran

Question:

366. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the strategy to prevent more young persons entering a life of crime in view of the recent gangland killings in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24134/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 299 and 366 together.

The Deputy will appreciate that crime prevention and investigation, including in relation to the involvement of children in crime, are operational matters for An Garda Síochána in the first instance.

That being said, I share the Deputy's concern that we do all that we can to prevent children and young people from coming under the influence of criminals. An important initiative in that regard is the "Greentown” project, a research project led by the REPPP Project (Research Evidence into Policy, Programmes and Practice) at the School of Law in the University of Limerick (UL). The REPPP project is a strategic research partnership with UL which is supported by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and also by my own Department. Its specific focus is on examining the recruitment by criminal networks of children in Ireland and to make recommendations for interventions to disrupt this.

In the absence of international models of intervention that could be readily deployed, the original Greentown report (December 2016) recommended the design of a programme to include interventions with children and their families to help them withstand the influence of criminal networks. This new “Greentown Programme” has been designed with the input of leading international expertise on crime and criminal networks, together with Irish scientific, policy and practice expertise in child protection and welfare, drugs and community development.

I understand that it is intended to commence a trial of the Greentown Programme approach, on a pilot basis, during 2019.

More generally, I am currently developing a new Youth Justice Strategy with the assistance of an interdepartmental and interagency steering group. The new Strategy will address the full range of issues relevant to youth justice, including how best to tackle the serious issues raised in the Deputy's Question.

A key issue here is how to ensure an integrated approach across all agencies, but in particular the relevant child welfare programmes, Garda Youth Diversion Projects and schools, to ensure a sustained and holistic response and that integrated services are provided to respond to the situation of children at risk, tailored to the individual child in the context of the specific family and the specific community and the issues they face. The new Youth Justice Strategy will be published in draft form for a further round of public consultation before the end of this year and will be finalised early in 2020.

My Department also provides funding through the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) to support the operation of 106 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs). These projects are community based multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime/anti-social behaviour.

For 2019, IYJS has a renewed emphasis on preventative work by GYDPs, looking at the child in the context of the specific family and the specific community. This includes family support work and working with children aged 8 to 11. The Department also supports pilot projects, to help develop better approaches in areas such as engagement with hard-to-reach or more challenging children, as well as mentoring initiatives.

Garda Deployment

Questions (300)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

300. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in the Meath division in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [23230/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

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.

The Garda strength of the Meath Division from 2009 to 30 April 2019 , as provided by the Commissioner, is available on my Department’s website through the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx/Files/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Garda Data

Questions (301)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

301. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí who have retired in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [23231/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who has responsibility to manage and control generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members and workforce planning for the organisation.

The following table sets out the number of retirements from An Garda Síochána in the years 2016 to 2019, correct as of 6 June 2019, as provided by An Garda Síochána.

Retirements in An Garda Síochána, 2016-2019

2016

2017

2018

2019 (to date)

235

233

224

101

The Government has increased the budget for An Garda Síochána to €1.76 billion for 2019, which includes provision for sustained recruitment to An Garda Síochána this year. The Garda Commissioner has informed me that he intends to recruit 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019, and a net of 600 Garda Staff which will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 Gardaí from administrative duties to the frontline policing duties for which they were trained in 2019.

I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the recruitment of Garda members planned for 2019 will ensure that, taking account of projected departures, the Government’s commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members by 2021 remains on track. The number of Garda members in An Garda Síochána now stands at just over 14,000 , a net increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016.

Garda Data

Questions (302)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

302. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí per head of population by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23232/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.

I can assure the Deputy that 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 to deter crime.

I am informed by the Commissioner that as of the 30 April 2019, the latest date for which data is available, the overall strength of An Garda Síochána was 14,126 with 508 Reserves and 2,659 Civilians.

Garda management keeps the distribution of Gardaí under review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure optimum use is made of resources. I am advised by the Commissioner that recent census data is incorporated into the personnel allocation model. I understand that Census information received on a specific county format is amended by the Garda Síochána Analysis Service to reflect Garda Divisional boundaries.

However, it is important to note that ratios such as the number of Gardaí per head of population are not an appropriate tool to use when considering the allocation of Garda resources as they fail to take account of the fact that crime levels and types can vary significantly among communities of similar population size. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of Gardaí per head of population is therefore not collated.

I have been assured by the Garda Commissioner that Garda recruitment planned for 2019 will ensure that the Government's commitment to increasing the strength of An Garda Síochána to 15,000 Garda members by 2021 will be achieved.

Garda strength for each Division by station and rank, from 2009 to 30 April 2019 is available on my Department’s website through the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx/Files/003_Garda_Numbers_by_Division_2006_to_April_%202019.xlsx

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Garda Deployment

Questions (303, 304)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

303. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank attached to the Kildare drugs unit as of 24 May 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23245/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

304. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank attached to the Kildare roads policing unit as of 24 May 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23246/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 304 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters, and I, as Minister, do not have responsibility for this matter. Garda management keeps the 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 resources.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that the additional resources coming on stream have enabled him to assign resources to Specialist Bureaus such as the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. This Bureau leads on the strategy for tackling drugs and works with Garda Divisional Drug Units nationwide in demand reduction and supply reduction at local level.

An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve. All Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences crime or otherwise. A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drugs and organised crime.

The number of Gardaí by rank attached to the Kildare Drugs Unit as of 30 April 2019 (the latest date for which figures are readily available) was 11, of whom 2 were Sergeants and 9 were Gardaí.

In 2017 the Commissioner established the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau (GNRPB) to ensure a consistent approach to road safety and enforcement of road traffic legislation across the country. This is achieved through coordination of enforcement and development of policy based on research and analysis of statistics and by engaging in campaigns in partnership with other State Agencies.

Furthermore, the Divisional Garda Traffic Corps have been re-named Garda Road Policing Units, to reflect the role the Units will play in denying criminals the use of the roads network. In addition to the Roads Policing Units focusing on the lifesaver offences of speeding, seatbelts, mobile phones and driving under the influence, they will also focus on crime prevention and crime detection. Divisional Roads Policing Units will work closely with other Divisional units to target known criminals and to disrupt their activities through strict enforcement of road traffic legislation.

The strength of the Kildare Roads Policing Unit as of the 30 April 2019 (the latest date for which figures are readily available) was 27, of whom 2 were Sergeants and 25 were Gardaí.

For more general information on Garda Facts and Figures please see the following link.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures