280. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the level of firearm training provided to armed Garda personnel in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of gardaí by grade or rank with firearms training; the types of weapon they are trained to carry and or use; the company engaged to provide training; the cost of training on an annual basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39747/18]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling generally the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the training of its members and civilian staff and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter.
Training is provided by Firearms Instructors attached to the Garda College and the Emergency Response Unit under the control of the Director of Training, Garda College.
Following a recent audit conducted at the Garda College figures show there are approximately 2700 personnel that are currently authorised to carry firearms. This can increase to approx. 3500 depending on operational requirements. This caters for all ranks of Gardaí who carry firearms.
Members attached to regular units and Detective units are trained in handguns only, namely Smith & Wesson revolver, Sig Sauer & Walther semi-automatic pistol.
Specialist Units such as Emergency Response Unit and the Armed Support Unit are trained in Sig Pistol, H&K MP7 Sub-machine gun, Taser and 40 mm direct impact munitions (Less Lethal options).
For the Deputy's information, listed as follows are figures for attendance at firearms training in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to 31 August 2018.
2016 - 7851
2017 - 10555
2018 - 6891 as of 31 August 2018.
The increase in 2017 is as a result of the increase in ASU (Armed Support Unit). Each member attends more than one training course each year.
I have sought the information requested by the Deputy regarding the cost of training on an annual basis from the Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy on receipt of same.