Thursday, 19 September 2019

Questions (105)

Willie Penrose

Question:

105. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of doubling the number of dogs in the Garda dog unit; the estimated cost of doubling the number of horses in the Garda mounted unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37976/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion, as well as €92 million in capital investment this year. As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána as well as for decisions in relation to the allocation and management of Garda equipment and resources. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. 

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Mounted Unit is based at Áras an Uachtarain, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8. The unit has a national remit under the direction and control of the Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing and Major Event Management and the operational control of the Superintendent, Operational Support Services. There are currently 13 horses attached to the Garda Mounted Unit.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the cost of doubling the number of horses in the Unit, by increasing the number of horses to 26, would be approximately €78,000.  This represents the estimated cost for the purchase of the horses only and does not include other costs including those which would arise in relation to equipment, training or personnel.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that the Garda Dog Unit is based at Kilmainham Garda Station, in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and has a national remit. I am pleased to confirm that dog units have also been established in the Southern Region based at Togher Garda Station, Cork, and Henry Street Garda Station, Limerick. I understand that facilities for a future regional dog unit have also been included in the Western Region Garda Headquarters, Galway.

I am informed that there are currently 23 dogs attached to the Garda Dog Unit, comprising general purpose (search), drugs and explosive detection dogs. The cost of purchasing Garda Dogs vary from €1500 - €3000 in respect of a German Shepherd and from €1000 - €1500 for a Springer Spaniel.  I am advised by the Garda authorities that depending on the number of each breed involved, the cost up to €46,000 to double the number of dogs in the Unit by purchasing an additional 23 dogs. This represents I understand that the duration and cost of training for dogs in the Garda Dog Unit varies depending on what purpose the dog in question will be used for and that training of Garda dogs is provided in house.

While the costs set out above are an estimate of purchase price only, I am advised by the Garda authorities that doubling the number of dogs and horses in An Garda Síochána would require a significant increase in Garda personnel in both units and would also significantly raise the ongoing running costs of both units, including veterinary, feed and kennelling costs. 

I am further advised that the doubling of both units would also require capital investment in terms of accommodation, stables and kennels at each location. An Garda Síochána indicate that the stables at Áras An Úachtaráin are currently at maximum capacity, as are kennelling facilities at Kilmainham Garda Station.