As the Deputy is aware, the Garda Commissioner and his management team are responsible for the allocation of all Garda resources, including personnel, and I have no role in such matters.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that it is not proposed to establish a specialist or dedicated transport policing unit of An Garda Síochána to police the rail network and that effective local community policing can meet the policing needs of the rail network and its stakeholders.
It is important to note that An Garda Síochána engages extensively with transport operators and that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to address incidents and issues that have arisen at specific locations. There is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the respective control centres, and access to good quality CCTV can assist the Gardaí when investigating serious incidents.
Furthermore, I welcome Irish Rail's plan to install more CCTV cameras and increase security patrols on DART carriages over the coming months, which is a positive step. I also support the introduction of a text alert system which was announced by Irish Rail recently. This service will facilitate customers to discreetly report any incidents as they develop on rail services.
The Deputy will be aware that An Garda Síochána already employ a wide range of operational measures aimed at tackling public-order offences and anti-social behaviour. These measures are underpinned by the existence of a comprehensive legal framework, which assists the Gardaí in tackling this type of crime, including provisions under:
- the Criminal Damage Act 1991;
- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994;
- the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003; and
- the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.
For its part, the Government remains committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána have all the necessary resources to tackle all forms of criminality in our communities. A total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, an increase of over €100 million on the 2018 allocation. The Commissioner has informed me that he plans to recruit a total of 600 trainee Gardaí in 2019 and, in addition, it is his intention to recruit a net 600 Garda Civilian Staff. This Garda Staff recruitment will allow the Commissioner to redeploy a further 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline policing in 2019.
The provision of these additional resources to the Commissioner is a key component in this Government's approach to improving public safety throughout the country which will undoubtedly also benefit policing of transport services in Dublin and in other areas.