134. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the practice of having a large number of gardaí present at court proceedings outside the Dublin area; the reason a similar arrangement to contract out court security in the Four Courts does not apply nationally in view of the necessity to get the best possible use of Garda resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6108/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the reason a large number of gardaí are present at court venues both within Dublin and in provincial venues is that they are generally in court to give evidence in the prosecution of criminal cases.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution and allocation of Garda resources and, as Minister, I have no direct role in the matter. However, I understand that in relation to court security, there is a Garda presence in each courthouse location/complex. The level of Garda presence is determined by various criteria, including the size of the courthouse location/complex, the number of court sittings and the nature of the court cases, and this is done in liaison with the Courts Service.
As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing published its report on 18 September 2018. The Government endorsed the Commission’s report on 18 December and accepted all 157 key recommendations, including in relation to court security arrangements, which stated 'there should be scope to relieve Gardaí of duties which do not require police powers' which was accepted in principle. I also published a high level plan, ‘A Policing Service for the Future’, which sets out the approach to implementation over the next four years of the Commission’s recommendations, which will be overseen by a dedicated programme office in the Department of the Taoiseach, as recommended in the Commission’s Report. As set out in the implementation plan, work will commence on a review of court security arrangements in Q3 2019.