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. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021; and investment of €46 million in the Garda Fleet over the same period.
In terms of investment in the Garda estate, the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious 5-year programme based on agreed Garda priorities, which continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by over €60 million Exchequer funding as well as a major Public Private Partnership (PPP). There has been some good progress on the programme in 2018, as well as in other major projects in relation to the Garda estate, including in particular completion and entry into operational use of 3 new Divisional and Regional Headquarters at Wexford, Galway and Kevin Street Dublin, which collectively required funding of over €100 million. The clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff as well as the public interacting with them.
The Deputy will appreciate that the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works (OPW), which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.
The Public Private Partnership arrangement included in the Building and Refurbishment Programme is intended to deliver new stations at Clonmel, Macroom and Sligo as well as a new custody suite at the Garda Station at Anglesea Street Cork.
I am informed by the OPW and the Garda authorities that the OPW has acquired sites for the development of the new stations in Macroom and Sligo. The site in Clonmel is a portion of the former Kickham Barracks and has at all material times been in state ownership. Having previously been transferred from the Department of Defence to Tipperary County Council, I am informed by the OPW that the difficulty in relation to completion of transfer of the site from Tipperary County Council to the OPW has been resolved and that the transfer is now being finalised. On completion, ownership of all three sites will be vested in the OPW.
The Deputy raised the question of costs incurred to date in relation to Clonmel. I am informed by the OPW that conveyance of the site is being handled by the CSSO. The site is being transferred from the Council to the OPW free gratis, and in parallel a separate portion of land is being transferred free gratis from the OPW to the Council. I am further informed by the OPW that minor costs have been incurred to date for the purpose of site surveys. I am informed by An Garda Síochána that no additional costs have yet been incurred although costs will arise as the project progresses.
The Deputy will be aware that the development of PPP projects is progressed under the auspices of the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA). My Department and An Garda Síochána are continuing to engage with the NDFA with a view to progressing the matter further.
I can assure the Deputy that delivery of the new Garda stations at Clonmel, Macroom and Sligo through this PPP arrangement is being pursued as a priority.