Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has appealed to the Justice Minister to ensure that additional Garda personnel are allocated to the Cavan-Monaghan Garda Division.
Since 2010, the Garda force across the division has been reduced by almost 20%, while Co. Monaghan alone has seen a 28% cut.
Deputy Brendan Smith warned, “The impending impact of Brexit in the border region, particularly in respect of policing issues, cannot be underestimated. However, the force in Cavan and Monaghan is well depleted. I have been appealing to the Justice Minister for some time to allocate additional personnel to the region.
“While the Minister talks about the Government’s commitment to “ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime”, he has made no commitment to increasing Garda numbers in the Cavan-Monaghan division.
“Since 2014, we have only seen an additional 21 officers allocated to the division and I have grave concerns that the force is not adequately staffed to cope with any additional duties, which may arise as a result of Brexit.
“Minister Flanagan’s reply does not do anything to ally my fears. In fact, rural communities across the two counties have been expressing concern following a spike in anti-social behaviour and burglaries in recent weeks. The downgrading of Ballyconnell Garda Station has also raised fear and anger levels in neighbouring communities.
“Government needs to start taking the issue of Garda provision in the border area seriously. For too long, we have seen services reduced and communities deprived of essential amenities. I want Minister Flanagan to commit to additional Gardaí for the region – it has been left behind for too long and measures must be taken to ensure that we are fully prepared for any possible issues coming down the road as a result of Brexit”.
For Written Answer on : 10/10/2017
Question Number(s): 222 Question Reference(s): 42257/17
Department: Justice and Equality
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase garda numbers in the Cavan and Monaghan division in view of the reduction in garda personnel since 2010; if the particular policing needs of this division due to a long land border with a neighbouring jurisdiction will be taken into account in the allocation of garda resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends, demographics and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I have been informed that the number of Gardaí assigned to the Cavan / Monaghan Division on the 31 August 2017, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 323 with 12 Garda Reserves and 37 Civilians. When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.
This plan is progressing apace. This year, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves.
I am further informed by the Commissioner, that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, 33 of whom have been assigned to the
Cavan / Monaghan Division. I am also informed that another 200 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest this year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end – an increase of 500 since the end of 2016.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Garda Division, including the Cavan / Monaghan Division in the coming years.
In so far as the allocation of newly attested Gardaí is concerned, this is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am assured by the Commissioner that the needs of all Garda Divisions are fully considered when determining the allocation of resources. However, it is important to keep in mind that newly attested Gardaí have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete in order to receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner’s policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations which have the required training and development structures and resources in place, including trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.