First, I note that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. The allocation of Garda resources is also a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities to ensure their optimum use.
The station referred to by the Deputy is in the Letterkenny Garda District. I am informed by the Garda authorities, as of 31 July 2019, there were a total of 25 Garda vehicles assigned to the Letterkenny Garda District, including 17 cars.
Responsibility for the efficient deployment of Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between districts and stations as required by operational requirements.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that in certain circumstances, a Garda member may be authorised to use a personal vehicle in the course of official duties.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that a Form of Undertaking must be signed by any Garda member authorised to use their private motor vehicle on official business. This confirms that the vehicle complies with any relevant regulations or conditions in force, in particular that the vehicle is insured, and acknowledges that the State will accept no liability for any loss or damage resulting from the use of any motor vehicle on official business.
Garda members who use their personal vehicles in the course of official duties are entitled to travel and subsistence payments in line with civil service guidelines.
In relation to the general process for authorisation, I am advised that Divisional Officer may authorise use of a personal vehicle on special tours of duty, or on duty of a regularly recurring nature. A District Officer may authorise a member to use such a vehicle on duty of an urgent and important nature. And in cases of extreme urgency and importance and only if official transport is not available, the Member-in-Charge of a station may authorise the use of a privately owned vehicle or alternatively if the Member-in-Charge is not readily available, members whose duty it is to go to the scene may do so, provided that in all cases the vehicle may be lawfully used.
Finally, it should be noted that the resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This includes a capital allocation of €10 million for the purchase and fit-out of Garda vehicles in 2019. I understand from the Garda authorities that this allocation will be used for purchase and fit-out of over 300 new vehicles for operational use this year.