169. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda public order vans attached to the Westmeath division as of 1 March 2018 and 1 March 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12693/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that there has been an unprecedented level of investment in Garda resources across the State in recent years.
A total of €46 million has been provided by the Government for investment in the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021, in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the period 2013 to 2015. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime.
As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána. Furthermore, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of the availability of resources and identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles among the various Garda divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in that matter. I understand, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure their optimum use.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently no vans assigned to public order duty in the Westmeath Division.
However, for the Deputy's information and in terms of the overall fleet in Westmeath Division, I am informed by the Garda authorities that on 1 March 2018 there were 4 marked Garda vans allocated to the Westmeath Division, 2 of which were assigned to Athlone District and 2 to Mullingar District. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that as at 1 March 2019, there were 5 marked Garda vans allocated to the Westmeath Division, 2 of which were assigned to Athlone District and 3 to Mullingar District.
Finally, the Deputy may also wish to be aware that among the vehicles being purchased with the capital allocation of €10 million available for the Garda fleet in 2019, I am informed that 15 large vans have been purchased by An Garda Síochána and are currently being fitted out as public order vehicles. The allocation of these vehicles will be made by the Garda authorities on the basis of identified operational demands.