Smith expresses disappointment over lack of additional Garda resources

Garda– Cavan-Monaghan numbers still well down on 2010 figures - 

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has expressed disappointment with the Justice Minister after he failed to make firm commitments to assign additional Garda personnel to the border region.

Deputy Brendan Smith had called for additional personnel and resources for the Cavan-Monaghan division in light of a series of high profile burglaries across the two counties, as well as to provide extra support to officers on the ground to deal with the fallout from Brexit.

“The latest figures provided by Minister Charlie Flanagan reveal there are now 344 Gardaí working across the Cavan-Monaghan division, which is still well below the 391 assigned to the region in 2010. While there have been marginal increases in personnel numbers since 2015, the force facing significant staffing issues in the area”, explained Deputy Brendan Smith.

“There have been a number of high profile burglaries in Cavan over recent months. There were two particularly violent incidents in Ballyjamesduff in April, which saw two elderly people threatened by thieves who went on to steal cash and jewellery. The brutal nature of these crimes has increased fear levels among the local community, and particularly older people living there. What’s worse is that these crimes are not stand alone. They are happening right across the two counties.

“One of the biggest issues facing Gardaí working in the division is the large geographic area that they have to cover. The closure of rural Garda stations has had a huge impact on the ability of officers to get to an incident quickly. Many now have to travel long distances from urban stations.

“I am also concerned by what appears to be a lack of planning for additional resources for the border region to cope with the impact of Brexit. We are now less than a year away from the British withdrawal from the EU and there appears to be no definitive plan to assign additional Gardaí to the district. The Cavan district alone has 80 km of a border with County Fermanagh. There are around 21 official crossings and there are unofficial crossings as well. This will have a major impact on policing in the region.

“While Minister Flanagan has outlined his plans for a national force of 21,000 personnel by 2021, I am concerned about a lack of specifics for the border region. We cannot become complacent about the importance of a strong Garda presence, especially in the context of Brexit, and I will be continuing to press the Minister on his plan for the division”.

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For Written Answer on : 24/05/2018

Question Number(s): 83 Question Reference(s): 23021/18

Department: Justice and Equality

Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.

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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality when additional personnel and resources will be allocated to counties Cavan and Monaghan Garda division; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith TD

REPLY

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 and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.

I am informed by the Commissioner that the strength of Cavan/Monaghan Division on 30 April 2018, the latest date for which information is readily available, was 344. There are also 11 Garda Reserves and 38 Garda civilian staff attached to the Cavan/Monaghan Division. 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 Armed Support Units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

The Deputy will also be aware that there is close and ongoing cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing, with a particular focus on combatting security threats and cross-border crime. The Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, who are responsible for operational policing cooperation, have repeatedly emphasised the scope and the value of the close and high quality cooperation between the two police services in combating crime, protecting community safety and saving lives. The two police services operate a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island.

I can assure the Deputy that 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 achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. We are making real, tangible progress on achieving this goal.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,800 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide including 53 to the Cavan/Monaghan Division, 13 of whom were allocated from the most recent attestation of new Gardaí in March. Garda numbers, taking account of retirements, increased to 13,551 at the end of 2017 – a net increase of over 600 since the end of 2016.

I am pleased that funding is in place to maintain this high level of investment in the Garda workforce to ensure that the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. This year a further 800 new Garda Recruits will enter the Garda College, some 400 of whom have already done so. In total, 800 Garda trainees are scheduled to attest during the year which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, reach 14,000 by the end of this year.

In addition, a further 500 civilians will also be recruited to fill critical skills gaps across the organisation and to facilitate the redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and technical duties to front-line operational duties. There are plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve with new Reserves expected to commence training in 2018.

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 and its legacy is still having an impact. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across every Division, including the Cavan/Monaghan Division.

The investment in personnel I have outlined is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. The Capital Plan 2016 – 2021 provides for an investment of €46 million the Garda fleet to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit for purpose fleet. This is in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015.

In the period 2013 to end of 2017 almost €44 million will have been invested in the fleet with some 2,000 vehicles coming on stream in that period.

This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and I expect that the Cavan/Monaghan, like all other Garda Divisions will benefit from these new resources becoming available.

 

 

 

 

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