As the Deputy will be aware, there has been unprecedented investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years, in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement and provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion, representing an increase of over 6% over the initial allocation for 2018. Very significant capital investment is also being made in Garda ICT infrastructure and the Garda estate.
The Government's Capital Plan 2016 – 2021 provides €46 million for investment in the Garda fleet, in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of his identified operational demands. This includes decisions in relation to the types of vehicles and the allocation of Garda vehicles across the various Garda divisions. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently 293 vehicles attached to Garda Roads Policing, including both marked and unmarked vehicles.
As the Deputy may be aware, €10 million has been made available for the purchase of Garda vehicles in 2019. Decisions on the type and number of vehicles to be purchased using these funds, as well as the allocation of these vehicles across the Garda Divisions are for the Commissioner.
I am informed that the Garda authorities have no plans at present to purchase additional high powered unmarked vehicles for Garda Roads Policing. In this regard, I understand that the main focus of An Garda Síochána’s Roads Policing Operations Plan is on high visibility roads policing utilising marked vehicles. The Garda authorities indicate that in addition to their role in enforcement of road traffic legislation, the presence of these marked vehicles on the road also act as a deterrent. While unmarked vehicles are used in respect of the enforcement of certain road traffic offences, I am informed that these make up only a part of the work of Roads Policing Units.
Finally, I can confirm to the Deputy that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.