351. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the activities of criminal gangs continues to be monitored throughout counties adjacent to County Dublin, such as County Kildare; if she is satisfied with the adequacy of resources available to An Garda Síochána to tackle this issue in line with demographic trends; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42918/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can assure the Deputy that the operation of organised crime groups is closely monitored on an ongoing basis by An Garda Síochána and that tackling these groups remains a key ongoing priority for both the Government and An Garda Síochána. This priority is clearly reflected in the Garda Síochána Policing Plan for 2015.
In targeting such activity An Garda Síochána continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted intelligence led operations.
On 2 November 2015 An Garda Síochána launched Operation Thor. This Operation will actively target burglars, organised crime gangs and prolific offenders through co-ordinated crime prevention and enforcement activity based on intelligence and the latest crime trends and patterns. Operation Thor will entail a broad range of activities including; additional high-visibility patrols in identified burglary hot-spots; increased used of checkpoints to tackle the criminal gangs using the national road network; the use of new high powered vehicles by the armed Regional Response Units; efforts to disrupt the stolen goods market; programmes to help reduce re-offending by prolific offenders; a high-profile national crime prevention awareness campaign, and targeted crime prevention advice for local communities and enhanced supports for victims.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel, among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review taking into account crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management in the area highlighted by the Deputy is satisfied that a full and comprehensive policing service is being delivered to the communities in the area.
I can also assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the capacity to provide effective, visible policing throughout the country. A crucial element of the Government's strategy is ongoing seamless recruitment to renew An Garda Síochána. With this in mind Budget 2016 made provision for the recruitment of 600 new Gardaí next year bringing to 1,150 the number of new Gardaí that will be recruited since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014. So far 295 of those new recruits are fully attested and are on the ground in communities nationwide. The Commissioner has informed that 15 of these newly attested Gardaí have been assigned to the Kildare Division.