The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D. today announced that he has approved the policing priorities for the Garda Síochána in 2009.

The Minister has directed the Garda Commissioner to target serious crime, in particular organised, gun and drug related crime in 2009. The Minister said An Garda Síochána is to continue their pursuit of gangland criminals.

Noting the recent successes of the Gardaí in the battle against drug traffickers the Minister said: "We must continue to build on the great work of the Gardaí in tackling drug traffickers and gangland criminals who have no regard for human life. At a time when public finances are under pressure, I have ensured that within the Justice, Equality and Law Reform area top priority is given to the fight against gangland crime.  Funding for Operation Anvil and other key operations will be maintained through 2009 and any savings that have to be made will not be allowed to diminish frontline policing."

The Minister is empowered by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to set the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána. Following consultation with the Garda Commissioner, the Minister has set priorities in six key areas.  In addition to the fight against gangland crime, the Minister has prioritised:

• domestic and international terrorism;
• road safety;
• public order;
• illegal immigration and human trafficking;
• customer service and response times.

Emphasising the importance of community policing, the Minister said "The Garda Charter, which I am prioritising, will contain commitments on community policing.  There is a clear demand from the public for it and I want individual communities to be informed about the level of service which they can expect from An Garda Síochána".

The policing priorities set by the Minister will be reflected in An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plan for 2009 which will be published in the near future.

2 December 2008