Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (541)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

541. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice if she has secured funding in budget 2021 to replace either the helicopters or aircraft within the Garda air support unit. [31764/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for carrying on and managing the administration and business of the organisation as well as for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. As Minister, I have no role in those matters.

Record resources of €1.952 billion have been made available to An Garda Síochána in Budget 2021. There will also be continued investment in the Garda Fleet of €8 million in addition to the highest ever investment of approximately €15 million in the Garda Transport Fleet in 2020 – a proportion of which relates to the Garda Covid response.

The Garda Air Support Unit was established in September 1997 and it currently comprises one fixed wing aircraft and two helicopters. I understand that there is no provision made in the Capital Plan or the 2021 budget to replace the aircraft or helicopters within this unit.

As the Deputy will appreciate, decisions on prioritising the upgrading or replacement of Garda equipment or these aircraft in particular are in the first instance for the Commissioner and his management team, in the context of the investment being made in An Garda Síochána and his operational priorities.

Regarding the fixed wing aircraft specifically, and as the Deputy may be aware, a Technical Advisory Group comprising of personnel from my Department, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Defence and the Irish Air Corps was established to examine the options in relation to future replacement of that aircraft. A number of options have been examined but I understand there is currently no plan for replacement of the aircraft at this time. My Department continues to engage with Garda management on an ongoing basis in relation to that matter, as well as ongoing engagement more generally on current and capital resource needs.