452. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the number of warranted searches involving the use of the ASU nationally that have been conducted in each year since 2015, in tabular form. [55497/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. This includes decisions regarding the deployment of Garda members and Garda units in Garda operations. As Minister, I have no role in these independent functions.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that Regional Armed Support Units do not engage in standalone operations and are deployed as a specialist resource in support of national and/or divisional units performing operational searches.
I am further informed that it is the operational prerogative of local Garda management, in conjunction with their operational plan for planned searches, to request or requisition the support services of the Special Tactics and Operational Command (STOC) Bureau regarding the deployment of regional Armed Support Units in order to ensure that operational searches are conducted in a professional and safe manner.
I am advised that Regional Armed Support Units consist of Garda personnel who are highly trained and experienced in specialised tactics and operational deployment in the areas of method of entry, hostage and barricade management and in the use of both lethal and less-lethal firearms in order to counter any threat arising from the use of force or firearms during such operations.
I am assured that prior to the sanctioning of Regional Armed Support Units’ deployment, each operational requisition is assessed on its individual merits utilising the Garda decision making model and in compliance with policy, legal, human rights and ethical considerations.
I am informed the Garda authorities that the data requested by the Deputy in respect of operational search activity relating to Armed Support Unit nationally is not currently available.