Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 783 No. 2
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle] It can take a squad car from the nearest station up to two hours to get to its destination. In one recent incident in Donegal, a patrol car had to travel 45 miles to attend a serious arson incident. Many areas in Donegal have been plagued by burglary and vandalism, where criminals have no fear because they know they will not be caught. Some people living on their own are so afraid that, when they go to bed at night, they leave €50 on the kitchen table in case the house is burgled in the hope the burglar will take it and leave. That is no way to live. The fact that this is going on before any further cuts have been made makes it more worrying. We have already seen the closure of almost 40 Garda stations this year and it is reported that up to 80 more face closure. This is not efficient, it is just dangerous. Can the Taoiseach inform the House of his plan for tackling crime in rural areas and how he equates fewer stations and fewer gardaí with more efficiency? How many more closures will we see by the year's end and for how many more years will we see closures happen before the recruitment embargo is lifted to ensure the safety of all citizens?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae The Government would close them all if it could get away with it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Pringle is aware that the nature of contact between the Garda Síochána and the public has changed over the years. The requirement for it has been very clear. There are 664 Garda stations whereas Scotland, with a population of 5.2 million, has 340 police stations. Northern Ireland has 85 stations and will return to 45. The decisions made are of interest in town and country and I have seen it over many years. There is little point in having a Garda sitting in a decrepit building for two hours on Wednesday-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They are the eyes and ears of the public.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----to sign unemployment assistance forms when the public demands visibility, connection, availability and contact.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They have no squad cars.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Through the work of the Minister for Justice and Equality-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae He wants to put them in community centres.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----and all concerned, rosters have been changed and moneys have been available through the capital Vote for the purchase of new vehicles for members of the Garda Síochána.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Segways on Grafton Street.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Pringle asked the question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The public demands, in rural Donegal and everywhere else, to know where the Garda Síochána can be contacted when needed and that the public has visibility of the force moving through the communities. A variety of opportunities present themselves in that regard.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Maybe the Taoiseach will put up photos.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Like scarecrows.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The question of the closure of Garda stations will follow any recommendation made by the Garda Síochána Commissioner to the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Vote for next year in respect of the Garda Síochána is a matter for the budget. We have absolute support for the work the Garda Síochána does in the country. I compliment the Garda Síochána on having accepted the changes to rosters that allow greater availability and visibility at times when they are required where people or crowds have gathered. It is the same old story. If Deputy Pringle thinks the best method of Garda contact with the public is to have them sitting for two hours on a Wednesday in a building 100 years old-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is proven.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----when, if anyone had an intention of criminal activity, the person would not be going there-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath That is an insult.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny What the Garda Síochána needs is community contact with town and country, availability, visibility and connection. That is the changing face of interaction with the public.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley It shows how little the Taoiseach knows. He spends too much time with his Garda driver.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is why the Minister for Justice and Equality has, with the co-operation of the Garda Síochána, changed many of the structures for the better.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I think there is only one Deputy Pringle in the House so perhaps Members will listen to him.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle The Garda Review recently described these changes as a victory for criminals. The closure of rural Garda stations means members of the Garda Síochána are not in contact with the local community. They must travel over 50 miles to emergency callouts, which is hardly progress in terms of policing. Since 2008, the number of gardaí has reduced by 1,000 and staffing levels in 108 Garda district have fallen by over 10%. The Garda Síochána cannot access staff or vehicles in many rural areas and cannot access the public because they have no means of getting there. Is that the kind of policing the Taoiseach wants across the country?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny No, I want to see that the public has confidence in the Garda Síochána, in the officers who conduct business on behalf of the public and that the force has the resources to do the job. That is why over 200 new Garda cars have been purchased by a decision of Government due to the clapped-out nature of some cars with high mileage.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Lucky bags at Christmas.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Additional vehicles will be purchased for the Garda Síochána in 2013.

The operation that targeted burglars has resulted in over 2,500 arrests and 1,400 charges. This is significant in the context of the gardaí finding out who the people are and bringing 1,400 charges against them. The important point is that the Garda Síochána has changed the way it does business in terms of rosters. Its visibility, on the streets and across the country, has changed because of the changes to rosters. The capacity to be connected, to be contacted and to contact each other-----

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae That is because they are following the Taoiseach. He sees them all the time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Even in Tipperary, the communication systems work so much better than previously. That is important for people who want to know what the Garda confidential line is-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is for the Taoiseach and Deputy Tom Hayes.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Deputy Mattie McGrath does not want to see them.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----so they can make contact with their gardaí when they need them. If Deputy Mattie McGrath thinks that sitting in an ivy-covered building, which needs €100,000 to do it up, for two hours on Wednesday is the way to do justice in this country, he is out of touch.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Fewer police cars, that is the way to do it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I, the Minister and the Commissioner want to see the Garda Síochána active in communities, interacting with people and being available to people and being seen by them. This engenders confidence and information, which is very important. Things have changed and the capacity of the Garda Síochána to reach into communities, town and country, is changing with it. We need to use modern methods of transport, communications and connection. If Deputy Mattie McGrath wants a new patrol car, he came into contact with the gardaí some time ago and should be very careful about that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That completes Leaders' Questions.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath A Cheann Comhairle, I want that withdrawn-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Withdraw what? Deputy Mattie McGrath should resume his seat.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I want to know what the Taoiseach meant by that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I do not know what Deputy Mattie McGrath is talking about.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Deputy Mattie McGrath should call the Garda Síochána.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath He is casting innuendo.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Mattie McGrath sit down?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I want to know what he meant by that.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Deputy Mattie McGrath should Google it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Mattie McGrath sit down?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I want to know what he meant by that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are other ways of dealing with the issue.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath How? If he simply withdraws it, it would be fine. It is not funny. Three gardaí delivered a baby on Monday night.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Congratulations.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The first question is in the name of Deputy Micheál Martin.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I have a good rapport with gardaí.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I read about that too.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett When Members are finished shouting at each other, we will get back to Questions to the Taoiseach.

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

Northern Ireland Issues

 1. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will provide details of his meeting with family members of those killed in the Kingsmill massacre; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [45658/12]

 2. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny when he next plans to meet with the British Prime Minister. [45661/12]

 3. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the issues he will raise with the British Prime Minister when they next meet. [45662/12]

 4. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he is meeting Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg when he is in Dublin next; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45692/12]

 5. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has spoken to Prime Minister Cameron recently about Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45689/12]

 6. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the issues he intends to raise at the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council on 2 November 2012.  [47229/12]

 7. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has met the leader of the SDLP recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47321/12]

 8. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the programme of meetings with groups from Northern Ireland which he has undertaken in the past six months. [47371/12]

 9. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his plans to meet with the families of the victims of the Ballymurphy massacre. [47443/12]

 10. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his attendance at the plenary meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council on 2 November 2012.  [47586/12]

 11. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if any progress was made on identifying further areas for North-South co-operation at the North-South Ministerial Council plenary meeting on 2 November 2012.  [47587/12]

 12. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has spoken to Prime Minister Cameron recently; if justice and home affairs were discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48026/12]

 13. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will meet with Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48418/12]

 14. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his recent meetings with victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland and his plans for future meetings. [49708/12]

 15. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report back on his recent meetings with the political leaders in Northern Ireland. [49709/12]

 16. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the issues that he raised at the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council on 2 November.  [49710/12]

 17. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his recent discussions with British Prime Minister David Cameron. [49714/12]

 18. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the plans he has to meet the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. [49775/12]

 19. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his recent visit to Northen Ireland. [50985/12]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 19, inclusive, together.

I have initiated a series of meetings with families of victims on all sides of the community in Northern Ireland as a sign of the priority my Government attaches to helping to find a lasting resolution to the hurts of the past. On 13 September, I met with the sole survivor and with family members of the ten Protestant workmen killed in the 1976 Kingsmill massacre in south Armagh. I invited the families to meet me so that I could hear at first hand how their lives had been affected by one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.


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