Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (9)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

9. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the development of the new regional Garda headquarters in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11984/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (6 contributions) (Ceist ar Justice)

I have raised the matter of the new regional Garda headquarters in Caltragh in Sligo with the Minister several times. There may have been some difficulties, not with the Department of Justice and Equality, but perhaps the Office of Public Works in acquiring three of the sites as public private partnerships are being used in the cases of Clonmel, Macroom and Sligo. An announcement was made in relation to Macroom and Sligo. Has there been a hold up in Clonmel? The local Garda Representative Association has expressed concern about the delay since the announcement.

The Garda building and refurbishment programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious five-year programme based on agreed Garda priorities, which continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by significant Exchequer funding across the Garda and Office of Public Works Votes.  In addition to that programme, other major works to the Garda estate which are ongoing include the pilot Garda station reopening project, the development of a new facility at Military Road and the major refurbishment of Fitzgibbon Street station, both in Dublin.

I emphasise that 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.  There has been some good progress in relation to the Garda estate in recent times, including in particular the completion and entry into operational use in 2018 of three new divisional and regional headquarters in Wexford, Galway and Kevin Street, Dublin, which collectively required funding of over €100 million.

The public private partnership arrangement included in the building and refurbishment programme is intended to deliver new stations in Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel, as well as a new custody suite at the Garda station located on Anglesea Street in Cork city.

Site acquisition for this public private partnership bundle has been complex and has taken longer than originally envisaged.  I have been informed by the Office of Public Works and the Garda authorities that the Office of Public Works acquired sites for the development of the new stations in Macroom and Sligo in 2015 and 2018, respectively. I am informed by the Office of Public Works that all difficulties in relation to completion of the acquisition of the site in Clonmel were recently resolved and that that transfer is now also agreed.  It was necessary to secure all three sites before the public private partnership could proceed to the next stage.

The development of public private partnership projects is progressed under the auspices of the National Development Finance Agency. My Department and the Garda authorities are working to progress this matter, with the input and assistance of the National Development Finance Agency.  My Department is also engaging with the Office of Public Works in relation to the assistance that it may be able to provide to the process, including direct engagement on the matter between the Secretary General of my Department and the Chair of the Office of Public Works. 

I thank the Minister for his update. I was concerned, as were many others in Sligo and in the Garda Representative Association, at the delay at the Clonmel site which may have caused other difficulties. Recently, the Minister visited the Sligo station at my request, where he met with the powers that be. He saw first-hand the need for the regional Garda headquarters. The site in Sligo is very fine and acceptable to all in the area. Now that the Office of Public Works has acquired the three sites which it will proceed with using public private partnership, I hope we will see progress in the not too distant future.

I acknowledge the interest of Deputy McLoughlin in the acquisition of the site for the Garda station in Sligo and in ensuring that the legal, technical and design issues can be dealt with as expeditiously as possible in order to ensure that the Garda in Sligo have every modern resource available to them in the course of their duties. That includes a modern and fit-for-purpose Garda station.

I am sure Deputy McLoughlin will acknowledge that public private partnership projects are complex. The details are technical. It is vital to get the details of the projects right at planning and design stage. I assure Deputy McLoughlin that the delivery of the new Garda station in Sligo, along with those in Clonmel and Macroom, which are being done through the public private partnership arrangement, is being pursued as a priority and that I will keep him fully informed of developments.

I welcome the Minister's comments. I must record that he has been very supportive to me and to Sligo in relation to the new regional Garda headquarters. We are making progress. It is only a matter of time. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will see progress with the start of the three projects, which constitute a unit under the public private partnership bundle. I welcome this, as do the people of Sligo and the surrounding areas. I acknowledge the wonderful work being done everyday by An Garda Síochána in my area, which the Minister acknowledged when he visited the station and met with the chief superintendent as well as others based in Garda units in Sligo and its surrounding areas, including Leitrim. I welcome the Minister's comments that the project will continue and that he will keep me informed about its progress.

Deputy Charles Flanagan

I assure the Deputy of a desire on the part of Government to proceed with these projects as quickly as possible. Deputy McLoughlin may wish to know that as well as advancing the Garda station in Sligo, I am informed that a total of 52 vehicles will be allocated to the Sligo-Leitrim division as of March 2019. This includes a total of 28 vehicles allocated to Sligo district, eight in Ballymote and 16 in the Leitrim area.

I assure Deputy McLoughlin that as far as the Garda Commissioner and his team is concerned, Sligo and the north west are very much a priority. Indeed, from a Government perspective, both myself and the Minister of State, Deputy Moran, the Department of Justice and Equality, other Departments and the National Development Finance Agency are anxious to ensure that the technical details surrounding the further advancing of the PPP bundle can be progressed at the earliest possible date.