173. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice if consideration will be given to a transport police pilot project on Cork bus routes. [6174/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of Garda resources.  I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in light of operational demand, to ensure their optimum use.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that it is not proposed to establish a specialist or dedicated public transport policing unit in County Cork or anywhere else in the country at this time. Instead, Gardaí deploy a wide range of operational measures aimed at tackling public-order offences and anti-social behaviour in all contexts, including the policing needs of the rail or transport network and its stakeholders. The legal framework that assists the Gardaí in tackling this type of crime includes provisions under the Criminal Damage Act 1991; the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994; the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003; and the Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.
In terms of safety on public transport, I understand that Garda management engages with transport operators and that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to address incidents and issues that have arisen at specific locations.  I am further informed that there is ongoing communication between An Garda Síochána and the respective control centres, and access to good quality CCTV can provide assistance to Gardaí when investigating serious incidents.
An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021.  This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff.  As a result, Garda numbers are now approximately 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.  Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff . These additional resources will further strengthen An Garda Síochána’s response to all forms of crime, including that which takes place on public transport.
With specific regards to Cork, I am further advised by An Garda Síochána that as of 31 December 2020, the latest date for which figures are available, there are 723  Garda members in the Cork City Division, 351  in the Cork North Division and 308 Garda members in the Cork West Division.
In addition, Garda Civilian Staff figures for County Cork on 31 December 2020 show 116 Staff for the Cork City Division, 39 Staff for the Cork North Division and 37  Staff for the Cork West Division.