352. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extra measures she has or will take to combat the activities of criminal gangs and membership thereof; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7212/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can assure the Deputy that tackling organised crime activity is a key ongoing priority for both the Government and An Garda Síochána.
An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan sets out the priorities of An Garda Síochána in this regard including its continued commitment to proactively target groups and individuals engaged in criminal activity, including organised criminal activities.
In tackling such activity, An Garda Síochána continues to develop and implement operations and strategies aimed at targeting, dismantling and disrupting criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methodologies. Multi-disciplinary approaches are also utilised to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise are effectively targeted, including through the use of the proceeds of crimes legislation, money-laundering legislation, and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
While we should not underestimate the difficulties which the Garda authorities face in tackling organised crime activity, we continue to see the significant results of their efforts in the arrests made and persons being brought before the Courts, as well as the ongoing drugs and firearms seizures made.
In support of these efforts, the Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the resources to deliver highly-mobile and responsive Garda patrols in both rural and urban communities. Since 2012, almost €34 million has been invested in renewing the Garda fleet to support front line Garda responses. Over 640 new vehicles are coming on stream since the start of 2015 including new specialised vehicles. This investment will provide the Gardaí with additional high powered vehicles, marked and unmarked patrol cars, cars for surveillance and covert operations, motor cycles for high visibility road policing and vehicles for public order policing. This investment in a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose Garda fleet will continue under the Government’s Capital Plan 2016 - 2021 which provides an additional €46 million for new Garda vehicles over the life time of the Plan. The Government is also investing in airborne surveillance and enhanced technology and ICT systems. The increased budget allocation for 2016 will also facilitate additional funding for Garda surveillance, special operations and targeted, intelligence-led policing.