I welcome the Minister of State to the House. One of the key recommendations of the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland was the redeployment of members of An Garda Síochána from non-core duties to front-line duties. One of the non-core duties specified was the carrying out of security duties at courthouses by An Garda Síochána. The case with which I want to deal specifically, and the one I know best, is that of the new courthouse on Mulgrave Street in Limerick. This was opened in March 2018 and has been a great addition to Limerick and to the delivery of justice in the region but, when it was established in May 2018, 22 gardaí were reassigned from front-line duties to non-core security duties at the courthouse on Mulgrave Street. This is a very inefficient use of the skills of members of An Garda Síochána. The key recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland were developed in an implementation plan published last December following the publication of the commission's report in September. One of the key goals for 2019 under the plan is the redeployment of gardaí from non-core security duties in courts to front-line community policing duties. This is already the case in Dublin. Security work at the new Criminal Courts of Justice building, opened in 2010, is carried out by a private security firm, G4S. This firm also carries out security duties at the Four Courts in Dublin.
Private security firms do not carry out security duties in any court outside of Dublin. I want the courthouse on Mulgrave Street in Limerick to be the first outside of Dublin in which the key recommendation of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which is also a goal for 2019 under the implementation plan, is implemented so that these 22 gardaí, who are needed on the streets of Limerick, can return to front-line duties. We need them in suburbs such as my own area of Castletroy and Monaleen, Dooradoyle, Corbally, and Caherdavin. They are needed in the city centre where many businesses have major issues with antisocial behaviour and theft. The public of Limerick wish the see their members of An Garda Síochána on community duties, on the beat, on bikes, in patrol cars, walking the streets, and making people feel safer.
They do not wish to see them tied up in performing security duties in the courthouse that could be carried out better and more efficiently by a private security firm. I am not expecting all 22 gardaí who include two sergeants to be fully redeployed because in the courthouse we will require gardaí to exercise powers that private security firms do not have such as the power of arrest. However, I want to see immediate action on this issue which I raised with the local chief superintendent, Mr. Gerard Roche, at the joint policing committee meeting in Limerick last Friday. He very much supports my proposal, as does the superintendent in Henry Street Garda station, Mr. Derek Smart. Can the Minister make Mulgrave Street courthouse the first outside Dublin in which private security firms take over security duties, meaning that the 22 gardaí engaged in security duties in the courthouse can be redeployed to engage in front-line community policing in Limerick city and its environs?