As Minister for Justice and Equality, I warmly welcome the announcement in recent weeks by the Garda Commissioner of a new Operating Model of An Garda Síochána.
This functional model has long been recommended by independent policing specialists, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI). Rollout of this model meets a key commitment in A Policing Service for the Future, the four year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.
While new to Ireland, this model is the norm in other countries. It is designed to reduce bureaucracy and will shift real decision-making power from Garda Headquarters to the Chief Superintendents, closer to the communities they serve. Importantly, it will also result in significantly more Sergeants and Inspectors on the ground where leadership, supervision and mentoring is crucial.
I understand that the finer details of the implementation of the new Divisional structures are currently being determined by the Garda Commissioner and his team, and the new model will be implemented on a phased basis throughout 2020. I further understand that the Commissioner and his team will be meeting Joint Policing Committees all over Ireland in the weeks ahead and there will be opportunities for detailed local engagement at that stage.
Of course, these changes are being introduced at a time of record investment in An Garda Síochána. €1.76 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to € 92 million this year. In terms of Garda numbers the Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitment to achieving a Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021.
I am confident that this ongoing investment in Garda resources together with the ongoing reform process will result in an improved policing service for all communities.
Finally, I can confirm that while I have been informed of the Commissioner's plan and, of course, I was familiar with the recommendations of the expert Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the CoFPI on these matters, the detail of the plan was solely a matter for An Garda Síochána in line with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 which states that by law the allocation of all Garda resources, including the deployment and distribution of Garda personnel, is solely a matter for the Commissioner.