As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for personnel matters and the distribution of personnel across the various Garda Divisions. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters.
I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of these resources under continual review, to ensure their optimum use.
I understand from An Garda Síochána that it already employs 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.
I understand from the Garda authorities that it is not proposed to establish a specialist or dedicated public transport policing unit and that effective local community policing can meet the policing needs of the rail network and its stakeholders.
I am advised by Garda management that it 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. I am further informed that there is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the respective control centres, and access to good quality CCTV can provide assistance to Gardaí when investigating serious incidents.
In terms of safety on public transport generally, I am advised by the Garda authorities that Operation Twin Track is a Community Engagement & Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted in partnership between An Garda Síochána and other Public Transportation stakeholders such as Iarnród Éireann, DART Services, and Transdev [Luas]. The purpose of this is to provide High Visibility Policing of Rail and Light Rail transport within the DMR region and nationwide and to deliver crime prevention advice.
I am informed that a multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and that it is agreed that An Garda Síochána will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.
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, increased to €1.882 billion in 2020. The provision of these additional resources and the ongoing Garda recruitment 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.