Written Answers. - Garda Operations.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

126 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress being made to resolve the dispute regarding who will have overall charge of the Garda air support operations. [27695/01]

The Garda air support unit which became operational in September 1997 has provided cover for a diverse range of Garda operations, including traffic monitoring at major events and emergency incident response.

I would like to assure the Deputy that there is no dispute in relation to who is in overall charge of the operations carried out by the Garda air support unit. The policing functions/missions are determined by the Garda authorities and, under present arrangements, the flying and maintenance of the craft, one fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter, are the responsibility of the Minister for Defence and the Air Corps.

The arrival of the second helicopter will extend the coverage provided by the Garda air support unit and, in this regard, the existing arrangements for the provision of pilots etcetera, as referred to above, have been the subject of ongoing discussions and review between officials from my Department, the Department of Defence, the Garda Síochána and the Air Corps.