Dáil Éireann - Volume 626 - 25 October, 2006

Written Answers. - Garda Deployment.

Mr. Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Government will appoint an additional Assistant Garda Commissioner to take charge of the force in Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34797/06]

  Mr. McDowell: I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that there is one Assistant Garda Commissioner assigned to the Southern Region, which comprises the Divisions of Limerick, Cork City, Cork North, Cork West and Kerry.

Garda management state that there is currently no proposal to appoint an additional Assistant Garda Commissioner to take charge of the service in Limerick.

It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, adminis[731] trative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

I should add that the current recruitment drive to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government, is fully on target. This will lead to a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year. The first three groups of newly attested Gardaí under this accelerated recruitment programme came on stream in March, June and September of this year and the fourth such group will become fully attested members of the Force later this year. Further tranches of approximately 275 newly attested Gardaí will follow every 90 days thereafter until the programme is complete. The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of the Limerick area will be given the fullest consideration.