51. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason numbers assigned to the Garda traffic corps continue to decline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5415/18]
Deputy Charles Flanagan: The Deputy will be aware, as I stated earlier in respect of community policing, that the distribution of gardaí is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner.
I have been informed that the strength of the Garda traffic corps on 31 December 2017 stood at 623. In addition, there is one chief superintendent and two superintendents attached to the DMR traffic corps, a superintendent and traffic inspector attached to each of the five regions and one superintendent attached to the policing road traffic bureau. It is important to note that road traffic legislation is enforced as part of the day-to-day duties of all members of An Garda Síochána, as well as through specific enforcement operations.
While there is no room for complacency, I was pleased to note that last year represented the lowest number of road traffic fatalities on record at 159. It is imperative that the positive momentum across road traffic enforcement and road safety initiatives is harnessed towards further annual reductions in fatalities.
By working together with the RSA and other agencies, An Garda Síochána will continue to confront dangerous road-user behaviour through public presence, legislative enforcement, education, information and partnership. The Government is committed to further supporting An Garda Síochána in this regard, including by reversing the effects of the legacy of the moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 which resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána across the whole organisation, including the traffic corps.
The Government implementation of the plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 is well under way and there is real tangible progress on reaching this goal. Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide, including the traffic corps, as referred to by the Deputy.