As the Deputy will be aware, during the National Ploughing Championships, I launched the National Rural Safety Forum, a new body which brings together the Department of Justice, An Garda Síochána, and the Department of Rural and Community Development alongside national organisations such as City and County Management Association, the NTA, ESB Networks, and local organisations such as the Irish Farmers Association, Muintir na Tíre, and the GAA.
The overall purpose of the Forum is to provide community reassurance, to develop and utilise a nationwide communications network for the distribution of crime prevention advice, to increase engagement within communities and to prevent and to reduce the opportunity for crime.
The members of the forum will first engage at a local level, allowing communities to bring their concerns and priorities to the table. National meetings of the forum will then be held on a quarterly basis, where the forum members will share their findings and collaborate to produce practical messages, information and advice, to be shared with rural communities and through the network of the Forum.
The key first meetings of the Forum have been held. Indeed the first message developed through the work of the forum has also been produced. This message relates to marking personal property for ease of recovery and return in the event of theft or burglary and it is due to be circulated imminently, via email to the combined reach of the Forum, consisting of over 1 million households nationwide.
There will also be a nationwide engagement day in hundreds of locations on Friday 22 November 2019. The full details of this day are still being finalised, but it is certain tobe a great opportunity for members of the public to meet with their local community Garda, who will be able to discuss issues of local concern and offer practical crime prevention advice.
It is not currently envisaged that the Forum will incur significant costs going forward; however, should this change, my Department will re-examine funding of the Forum as the situation calls for it.
The National Rural Safety Forum is an initiative which I am delighted to support, as Minister for Justice and Equality. It is a practical measure which I am confident will make a major contribution to many communities nationwide.