I propose to take Questions Nos. 649 and 652 together.
The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, for generally carrying on, managing and administering Garda business. This includes all operational aspects of Garda business, including the monitoring of, and actions taken against, organised crime groups (OCGs) within the State.
I am kept appraised of any matters relating to OCG activity that the Commissioner deems appropriate under the provisions of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, Garda numbers are approximately 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff, subject to the Public Health restrictions governing the operation of the Garda College, Templemore.
I am assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure their optimum use. The Commissioner has advised that specialist units are still engaged in the vital work of targeting organised criminal activity, despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges it has presented the Gardaí.
I have been advised by the Garda authorities that, from 2015 to February 2021, GNDOC has seized €209m in illicit drugs (€36.7m in 2020), 133 firearms, 5516 rounds of ammunition and €21.7m in cash (€8m in 2020).