CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

 

Commencement Matter

 

28 November 2017

 

The need for the Minister for Justice and Equality to give a clear timeframe regarding the reopening of Rush Garda Station

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee

 

On behalf of the Minister who, unfortunately, cannot be here today, I wish to thank the Senator for raising this important matter.

The Senator will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is primarily responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources available to him, including in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations. 

The Programme for Government commits the Government to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. A cornerstone of this commitment is the Government plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

Revisiting the decisions made to close Garda stations at the depths of the recession is also part of that commitment.

In this context, the Tánaiste, following the approval of the Government in June 2016,  requested the then Garda Commissioner, while fully cognisant of the Commissioner’s statutory functions, to identify 6 stations for reopening on a pilot basis to determine possible positive impacts that such openings will have on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order.

The Garda Commissioner has recently submitted his final report in relation to the pilot and the report contains a recommendation that Rush Garda station be one of the six Garda stations to be included in the pilot, along with stations at Ballinspittle, Co. Cork, Bawnboy, Co.Cavan, Leighlinbridge, Co. Wicklow, and Stepaside, Co. Dublin. The Minister intends to bring the final report before Government shortly.

In the meantime, the Commissioner has written to the Office of Public Works to progress the matter. The Minister understands that the timeframe for reopening the stations concerned is dependent on a number of factors, including the brief of requirements from An Garda Síochána, the extent of the required refurbishment, based on current building regulations, the need to comply with fire regulations and to provide disability access. There are also agreed standards and specifications for Garda cell areas and custody suites which would have to be incorporated into the refurbishment.

Once the specification has been agreed, the works will go to tender and will commence once the contract has been placed.