As the Deputy will be aware, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is coordinating the whole-of-Government response to Brexit. In this capacity, he is working closely with all Ministers and Departments, including my Department, to address in a joined up manner, the many challenges Brexit will present.
In keeping with Government policy, there are no plans to provide for a hard border on the island. However, it has long been recognised that Brexit increases the risk that dissidents and criminals may seek to undermine peace on the island and engage in criminal activities on a cross border basis.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for operational matters including the distribution of personnel, which is kept under review in line with operational and security demands. An Garda Síochána has been preparing for Brexit with a wide-ranging focus to determine operational requirements, including personnel, infrastructure, training and technology and continue to progress their contingency preparations. The Commissioner is committed to ensuring the organisation is prepared for the associated policing implications and challenges arising from Brexit.
I want to assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána has the full support of the Government in dealing with the implications of Brexit and will have the resources required to keep our people and our communities safe.
The Commissioner was provided with an additional €100 million in 2019 bringing his total budget to almost €1.8 billion. This substantial investment will allow the accelerated Garda recruitment programme to continue in tandem with the deployment of new and leading edge technology to support our front line Gardaí in carrying out their work and increasing visibility, including in Border Divisions.
The Garda Commissioner intends to recruit 600 trainee Gardaí and 600 Garda Staff (civilians) in 2019 and the recruitment of these additional Garda staff will facilitate the redeployment this year of 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline duties for which they are trained. As part of the ongoing increase in Garda resources, the Commissioner has deployed a number of additional Gardaí to border counties in recent months and this will continue.
In the event that a “no deal” Brexit gives rise to additional requirements in border areas, further resources can be provided through normal deployment. These requirements will be kept under ongoing review by Garda management and detailed consideration given in due course to the medium to long-term implications.
The Deputy will also be aware that there is close and ongoing cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing, with a particular focus on combating security threats and cross-border crime. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, who are responsible for operational policing cooperation, have repeatedly emphasised the scope and the value of the close and high quality cooperation between the two police services in combating crime, protecting community safety and saving lives. The two police services operate a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island.