Dáil Éireann - Volume 632 - 22 February, 2007
Written Answers. - Garda Equipment.
Ms Lynch Ms Lynch
Ms Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his atten tion has been drawn to the recent claim made by the president of the Garda Representative Association, that outmoded equipment, broken radios and delayed delivery of promised new supplies were hampering the Gardaí in the battle against crime; his views on the criticism; the steps he is taking to address these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6829/07]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: I am aware of the views expressed by the President of the Garda Representative Association which I believe were reported late last year in the media.
I reject the reported remarks out of hand. The record will clearly show that under this Government An Garda Síochána has never been better resourced. Deputies can judge for themselves the level of investment in An Garda Síochána under this Government. Over the past 10 years unprecedented resources have been provided by Government to An Garda Síochána in their fight against crime. This year alone, the Garda budget is over €1.4 billion, an 11% increase on 2006 and a 96% increase since 1997 in real terms. Capital and related expenditure over the period 1997 to 2006 amounts to over €500m. This year the capital provision including Garda building programme provisions under the Office of Public Works will amount to approximately €69m.
These resources have enabled An Garda Síochána to significantly upgrade the range of equipment and services available to support them in their daily fight against crime.
A major development is the current rapid expansion and upgrading of the Garda fleet. The total spend for 2006 on the purchase of new vehicles to upgrade the Fleet was €27.45 million and this sum was used to purchase 1,378 vehicles. Over half the entire fleet was replaced in one year, and further investment will be made this year.
On the question of radio equipment the Deputy will be aware that a state of the art digital radio service is in the process of being procured for An Garda Síochána and other emergency services. Tetra Ireland Limited has been selected by the Department of Finance as the preferred supplier of the service. Work has already commenced on a Service Performance Evaluation which involves the provision of a live working system covering a significant part of Dublin and surrounding areas. An Garda Síochána, as one of the principal users of the service, will play a major role in the evaluation and testing of the network and equipment. The Service Performance Evaluation will enable the preferred supplier, Tetra Ireland, to demonstrate that it can deliver all the aspects of the system and provide a fully working solution that meets all of the requirements of an emergency services network.
Subject to a successful outcome of this evaluation phase and completion of parallel contract negotiations, a contract for the provision of the  nationwide services will be signed. Completion of the system nationwide is expected within two years after the Service Performance Evaluation.
In the interim, Garda authorities inform me that where existing radio equipment is found to be faulty it is repaired. When it is not possible to effect repairs, the equipment is replaced thereby maintaining existing levels of radio infrastructure.
Another issue regularly raised in relation to Garda equipment is the provision of anti-stab vests. A contract for the supply and delivery of 11,000 Anti-Stab vests, with an option to purchase an additional 4,000, has been put in place by An Garda Síochána. These Anti-Stab Vests will be provided to all uniform members. A fitting and delivery programme commenced on 8th February and it is anticipated that in excess of 1,000 vests will be issued to uniform members by the end of this month and distribution will be completed within the next number of months.
In addition, a separate contract for the supply and delivery of up to 2,100 Ballistic Vests, which have anti-stab properties, is in place. These Ballistic Vests are being provided to Detective Gardaí and those employed on a long term basis as aides to Detective Units. A total of 1,300 vests have been issued and a further order has been placed for delivery of an additional 300 Ballistic Vests. This is a major development in the provision of safety equipment for members of An Garda Síochána.
Other major projects that are currently underway include a range of Information Technology projects such as a Major Incidents System, a new automated fingerprint system, a new Computer Aided Dispatch System and a new Ballistics System. In addition, I recently announced that An Garda Síochána will very shortly issue tenders to the market for a major expansion of the town centre CCTV system with a total of 17 towns around the country set to benefit from the scheme. This is in addition to the grant aid provided by my Department under the Community based CCTV scheme.
This huge programme of investment in An Garda Síochána, together with the current major expansion of Garda numbers, will significantly enhance the capacity of the Force to combat crime and bring criminals to justice.
Dáil Éireann 632 Written Answers. Garda Equipment.