Rural Crime: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Mattie McGrath on Tuesday, 15 January 2019:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes:
— that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to maintaining and strengthening cooperation between An Garda Síochána and local communities;
— that fear and concern about the threat of criminal activity is emerging as a persistent feature of rural life;
— that the latest crime statistics released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an increase in burglary and theft offences nationally for quarter one of 2018, when compared to the same period in 2017;
— that there is significant under-reporting of incidences of rural crime;
— the growing number of quad, farm machinery and livestock theft;
— that costs for criminal legal aid for every year covering the period 2011-2017 ranged from €49 million to €58 million;
— that information on the average cost per annum during the same period of 2011-2017 for civil legal aid shows that it has never dropped below €30 million;
— the widespread perception in rural and urban Ireland that the application of the system of free legal aid is open to abuse, specifically with respect to repeat offenders;
— that as of May 2018, only four grant aid applications have been approved under the Community Based CCTV Scheme that was launched in 2017 to assist groups in the establishment of community based Closed Circuit Television systems in their local areas;
— that the Criminal Justice Act 2007 permits a court granting bail to make it a condition that the person’s movements are monitored electronically; and
— that statistics released by the CSO demonstrate that the rate of crimes carried out by individuals on bail has been increasing, rising from 9 per cent of all crimes in 2011 to 13 per cent in 2016;
and calls on the Government to:
— establish a rural crime taskforce, to ensure all relevant departments coordinate with An Garda Síochána to identify and address the specific challenges when dealing with rural crime;
— conduct an immediate review of the operation of the Bail Act 1997 and the Criminal Justice Act 2007, specifically with respect to addressing the high rates of recidivism and the provision of free legal aid to repeat offenders, and to address the 47 constitutionality or otherwise of limiting the provision of free legal aid;
— conduct a review of the trespass laws aimed at strengthening the rights of farmers and land owners to protect their property and their person;
— commit to increasing the funding available for local communities in 2019 towards the cost of running local Text Alert and Business Watch schemes, and to maintain the provisions of the Text Alert Rebate Scheme;
— significantly increase investment in Garda overtime, ICT equipment and high- powered vehicles;
— commit to future Garda initiatives like Operation Thor, aimed at targeting mobile criminal gangs engaged in burglary and related crimes; and
— commit to a more expansive programme of reopening rural Garda Stations than that outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government Annual Report 2018.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
notes:
— the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to close engagement between An Garda Síochána and local communities;
— the Government’s plan to implement the recommendations in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which has a core focus on a Garda organisation working closely and collaboratively with communities and other agencies to keep communities safe and to prevent harm to vulnerable people;
— the significant financial supports provided to An Garda Síochána by this Government, amounting to €1.76 billion in 2019, to ensure resources are available to tackle all forms of criminality, including rural crime;
— the recruitment of over 2,400 additional Gardaí since September 2014 and the commitment to recruit 600 Gardaí in 2019 and to redeploy 500 Garda officers to frontline policing duties nationwide;
— the latest Central Statistics Office crime statistics for quarter three of 2018, which indicate a regrettable rise in robberies but a decrease in burglaries, theft-related offences and damage to property incidents which were down 6.4 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively over a 12 month period to the end of quarter three of 2018;
— that since Operation Thor was launched by An Garda Síochána in November 2015 burglary figures in Ireland have decreased substantially;
— the successful operations carried out by An Garda Síochána nationwide and the recovery of machinery, farm equipment and other stolen property; and
— that the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment in relation to a Garda station pilot reopening project continues to progress, and the fact that identification of appropriate stations is a matter for the Garda Commissioner;
recognises:
— that there is a particular fear and concern about burglaries in rural locations;
— that community policing plays a key part in responding to crime by taking into account and responding to local conditions and needs;
— that a range of partnership initiatives have been established between An Garda Síochána and important rural-based organisations such as the Irish Farmers Association, Muintir na Tíre and other rural community organisations;
— the impact of special Garda operations to target organised crime, in particular Operation Thor which has resulted in more than 168,630 targeted checkpoints nationwide and in the region of 8,840 arrests connected to offences including burglary, handling stolen property, possession of firearms, and drug offences;
— the enactment of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015 which targets repeat burglars who have previous convictions and who are charged with multiple offences of residential burglary;
— that the Criminal Justice Act 2017 has significantly strengthened Ireland’s bail laws; and
— the constitutional right to criminal legal aid on foot of a means test where serious legal charges are brought;
supports:
— the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime;
— the Government’s plans to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians;
— the unprecedented resources provided by the Government to An Garda Síochána with an allocation of €1.76 billion for 2019, an increase of over 6 per cent over the initial allocation for 2018;
— the significant capital investment being made in An Garda Síochána, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021;
— that €60 million of Exchequer funding underpins the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021, which is a five year programme based on agreed Garda priorities benefiting over 30 locations around the country;
— the development of three major new Divisional and Regional Headquarters at Galway, Wexford and Kevin Street, Dublin, each of which has entered into operational use in 2017 and 2018;
— that the Capital Plan 2016-2021 provides for an investment of €46 million in the Garda fleet, this is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013-2015, to ensure that the Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime;
— the 3,700 Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch schemes nationwide;
— the Text Alert scheme operated by An Garda Síochána as an effective means for Gardaí to communicate crime prevention information to local communities, noting that the scheme is now offered in every Garda division, with 164,000 subscribers and counting and in the order of three million text messages sent annually;
— the Minister for Justice and Equality making up to €150,000 available in 2018 to local communities who wish to apply for a rebate towards the costs associated with running their local Text Alert scheme;
— the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which will help maintain and enhance more visible policing and greater community engagement, address current challenges and enable An Garda Síochána to meet future challenges; and
— the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to support investment in closed circuit television (CCTV) systems to assist in the establishment of community based CCTV systems in local areas; and reaffirms its ongoing support for An Garda Síochána and the work Gardaí do every day on behalf of the Irish people and the unique role of the Gardaí as guardians of the peace.
- (Minister for Justice and Equality)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 1 to the motion regarding rural crime. On Tuesday, 15 January 2019, on the question that the amendment be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division will be taken now.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 53; Níl, 86; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion agreed to.