4. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that sufficient consultation with members of an association (details supplied) occurred prior to the Garda restructuring proposals being published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40299/19]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: As the Deputy will be aware, the new Garda operating model, announced last month by the Garda Commissioner, has been long recommended by independent policing specialists, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and in the expert Commission on the Future of Policing report published last year.
I very much welcome and support the roll-out by the Commissioner, Drew Harris, and his team of the new operating model. It has the support of Government. It is not my plan, it is a Garda plan. It meets a key commitment in the four year implementation plan which is giving effect to the commission's recommendations.
As the Commissioner has said, the new operating model is specifically designed to reduce bureaucracy and devolve power and decision making from Garda headquarters to the local level. Streamlining administration and bureaucracy in this way, alongside the ongoing process of civilianisation, will result in more frontline gardaí in Tipperary and elsewhere. This also involves the deployment of more Garda sergeants and inspectors to the front line, where they can lead and supervise their teams.
I understand that, while developing the new model, the Commissioner engaged widely within the organisation, holding 67 workshops which captured the views of over 400 Garda personnel from a cross-section of urban, suburban and rural divisions, as well as all specialist and support sections and their respective chief superintendents. I am informed that the Commissioner also met with the GRA and other representative bodies which were of course also consulted by the commission which developed the proposals.
These changes have been welcomed by the Garda Inspectorate, the Policing Authority, members of the Commission on the Future of Policing and many others, including people from the Deputy's constituency and the Irish Farmers Association. The Commissioner has also made clear that he and his team are willing to meet joint policing committees all over Ireland, including in Tipperary, in the weeks ahead for detailed local engagement.
My clear view is that, in delivering this new model, the Commissioner has listened carefully to policing experts and, crucially, also to the voices of communities in Tipperary and beyond who have consistently made clear they want to see more gardaí available on the ground and I assure Deputy McGrath in that regard.