Anyone who has visited the Tallaght area will be very aware of the rapid growth in many areas of development there. In the early 1980s the then new Tallaght Garda Station was the first building to be completed on the present complex that now incorporates The Square, the South Dublin County Council Headquarters, many new retail and business premises, the soon to be completed Tallaght Hospital and the new courthouse. In the intervening years, the population has continued to grow and Tallaght now has its own third level college along with many new recreational facilities.
With a large youth population, the Garda authorities have placed great emphasis on crime prevention. In one small area alone comprising 274 houses with a population of 1,844, 75 per cent of the population are unemployed and 1,100 are under 18. Community gardaí attached to the Tallaght Garda Station, by the very nature of their work, are brought into close contact with the young population in the community. The juvenile liaison scheme is specifically aimed at the first time offender with a view to avoiding reoffending. There is a youth diversion programme known as KEY, Killinarden Engages Youth, operating in the Killinarden area since 1991; the Deputy will know about that. The main purpose is to divert young people who are seen to be at risk of getting involved in crime or substance and drug abuse away from such activities. This project has expanded into the Fettercairn estate adjoining Killinarden and I have recently increased its annual funding from £34,000 to £50,000 so that it can bring its good work to a wider target group. This project brings together the statutory agencies and community workers. A drug strategy team has been established also in Tallaght to deal with the demand for drugs. A total of £10 million has been made available by the Government to assist in programmes aimed at reducing drug taking, such as the drug strategy team in Tallaght, the ten drug strategy teams in Dublin and the one in Cork.
I have already indicated publicly that serious consideration must be given to designating Tallaght and its environs as a separate Garda division given the rapid rise not just in population growth but in all aspects of the economic, social and cultural development of the area. As deployment is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, I have requested him to consider this issue as a matter of urgency. The matter has been receiving ongoing examination by the Garda Commissioner along with an examination of the policing infrastructure for the Dublin Metropolitan Area, and particularly the growing area of west Dublin in which Tallaght is situated. The Garda Commissioner will submit his proposals to me shortly and I expect a decision will be made at an early stage based on the Commissioner's report to me.
It should be noted that the divisional-district configuration of the DMA is examined from time to time taking into account changes in population, increase in business-factories and changes that might arise from physical infrastructural matters such as new roads, etc., and minor adjustments have been made over the years to reflect such changes. Developments in parts of Dublin have reached a stage that requires a re-examination of policing as well as other State provisions to take account of population growth. Many of the problems which have surfaced in the Tallaght area require a broad, multi-faceted approach by all the services — health, education, social welfare and parents.