Header Item Garda Resources (Continued)
 Header Item Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 1
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy] I wrote to the Garda Inspectorate, which replied: "It is envisaged that this examination will take account of the ongoing work by the Garda Commissioner to implement a divisional model of policing in Ireland." The reply goes on to state that it is also important to note that the examination of district boundaries does not form part of this review.

  I need some clarification. Is the programme for Government being implemented or not? Would the Minister like me to read from the letter again? It states "It is important to note that an examination of district boundaries does not form part of this review."  It also states: "The review should take account of the changing environments in rural, developing urban and suburban areas; the views of local communities; the allocation and deployment of Garda resources at the local policing level, including the use of the Garda Reserve, Garda facilities and Garda equipment; and relevant recommendations made in previous Inspectorate reports."

  The programme for Government does not seem to have been implemented at this moment in time by the Garda Inspectorate. What is the Minister of State's view on that?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy The Deputy will have an opportunity to come back in. The Minister of State has four minutes.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton I thank the Deputy for raising this important matter yet again. I am here on behalf of the Tánaiste who cannot be here this evening. She sends her apologies.

In its Programme for a Partnership Government, the Government has recognised community policing as the embodiment of An Garda Síochána, providing a means of recognising that every community, both urban and rural, has its own concerns and expectations. It commits the Government 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. A cornerstone of this commitment is the Government 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 investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána.

The Deputy will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government’s capital plan 2016-2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and I have no doubt that the new resources now coming on stream will see an increase in Garda visibility in our communities. Revisiting the decisions made to close Garda stations is also part of that commitment. In this context, the Tánaiste has requested the Garda Commissioner, while fully cognisant of her statutory functions, to identify six stations for reopening on a pilot basis to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order. The pilot will feed into the wider review being undertaken by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, at the request of the Policing Authority, of the dispersal and use of resources available to An Garda Síochána in the delivery of policing services to local communities.

It is worth noting that on 19 July, the Government approved a five-year reform and high-level workforce plan for An Garda Síochána which addresses the implementation of both the agreed recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate report, Changing Policing in Ireland, and the commitments in the programme for Government aimed at increasing the visibility of An Garda Síochána. It was also agreed that the Garda Commissioner's modernisation and renewal programme 2016-2021 will be the vehicle for this reform. The key structural change to the operation of the Garda will be the replacement of the current district model of policing with a divisional model where responsibilities will be allocated on a functional rather than a geographical basis, subject to modifications to ensure the close relationship with communities is maintained in large rural divisions. The Policing Authority has informed the Garda Inspectorate that the review should take account of the changing environments in rural, developing urban and suburban areas; the views of local communities; the allocation to and deployment of Garda resources at the local policing level, including the use of the Garda Reserve, Garda facilities and Garda equipment; and relevant recommendations made in previous Garda Inspectorate reports. It is clear that a comprehensive review is being envisaged by the authority, including a consultative process with local communities. The review should be completed within the first half of 2018 and the Tánaiste looks forward to receiving the report from the authority in due course.

Deputy Michael D'Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy Zoom on Michael D'Arcy Is the programme for Government being rejected? Is that what the Minister of State telling me? This is the second occasion on which the Minister of State has answered this question on behalf of the Tánaiste. It is not the Minister of State's area of responsibility. He does not have much interaction with the policing side of his Department. I cannot keep asking the same question, getting different answers and then getting no answer at all. The programme for Government was agreed less than a year ago. It is not an unreasonable question. Are the boundaries of the Garda districts being reviewed by the Policing Authority, the Garda Inspectorate, the Minister for Justice and Equality or the Department of Justice and Equality? Who is doing it? I do not want to have to go back to the Ceann Comhairle again and ask for another Topical Issue debate on this. On the previous occasion, I gave the Minister of State all the details and numbers of the population in the Enniscorthy district which takes in two local electoral areas of Gorey and Enniscorthy. I do not need to go over it again. I need the Minister of State to find out for me.

The standard of response coming from Departments is absolutely scandalous. It is not the fault of the Acting Chairman nor is it the fault of the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, but the rubbish being presented as responses to Deputies in the House cannot continue. Deputy Eugene Murphy is in the Chair at the moment. It is his job to ensure the answers are not substandard. It is the second time the Minister of State has answered this question from me and it is the second time that the answer is substandard.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton The Garda Inspectorate, at the request of the Policing Authority, is carrying out a wider review into the operation of the Garda Síochána. The key structural change to the operation of the Garda will be the replacement of the current district model of policing with a divisional model where responsibility will be allocated on a functional rather than a geographical basis subject to modifications to ensure the close relationship with communities is maintained in large rural divisions. That is the commitment and that is what is going on. As I said, the review should be completed within the first half of 2018. The Tánaiste looks forward to receiving the report from the authority in due course. That is the information I have been given. That is what the Tánaiste is saying. It will take account of the changing environments in rural, urban and suburban areas, views of local communities, relevant recommendations made by the previous Inspectorate reports. It is a comprehensive review. It is ongoing.

The Policing Authority has, in accordance with section 117(2) of the Garda Síochána Act, formally requested the Garda Inspectorate to examine the dispersal and use of resources available to An Garda Síochána in the delivery of policing services to local communities and to make recommendations to provide a more reasonable and effective policing service. In addition, the Garda Commissioner has been requested by the Tánaiste to identify for reopening six stations that were closed under the Garda Síochána district and station rationalisation programme. Work is under way on both of these initiatives. The Tánaiste looks forward with interest to their completion. In the meantime, the Government is fully committed in line with the programme for Government to ensure visible, effective and responsive policing in every community, including the most minimal response times possible. This commitment is underscored by the Government's accelerated recruitment programme and the ongoing major investment in the Garda fleet and the ICT infrastructure of the Garda Síochána which will facilitate the provision of high visibility and mobile policing services to communities. Taken together with the ongoing Garda modernisation and renewal programme, these measures will better equip An Garda Síochána and facilitate provision of the twenty-first century policing service that full meets the expectations of our communities.

Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I thank the Deputies who are here for the debate on this Bill. It is a small Bill but it is very important legislation that will have a dramatic impact on the microbrewing and distilling industry. I welcome to the Gallery a number of my good friends and colleagues - craft brewers from the four corners of Ireland - who are here to watch proceedings. This Bill will change their lives, careers and economic prospects and the economic prospects of the localities they represent throughout the length and breadth of this country.


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