247. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to correspondence to this Deputy from him of 1 November 2019, concerning the new operating model for An Garda Síochána, the level of consultation he was engaged on with the Garda Commissioner in respect of the four pilot projects that were trialled in the context of the new structural changes to policing here; if control divisions were evaluated as part of the four pilot schemes; if he was provided with a report in respect of the four piloted projects from the Commissioner; the actions he took based on the report findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47120/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): A functional model for policing has long been recommended by independent policing specialists, including the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and in the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI).
Prior to its inclusion in CoFPI and its implementation plan, A Policing Service for the Future, the Divisional policing model was piloted in four Divisions – DMR South Central, Cork City, Galway and Mayo – under the Government’s Five Year Reform and High-Level Workforce Plan. Implementation of these pilot programmes was being monitored by the Policing Authority as part of their wider oversight of implementation of the Garda reform programme. As such, the Policing Authority reported progress on a regular basis, the formal reports of which are published on my Department’s website.
The reform programme progressing under the Five Year Reform and High-level Workforce Plan has of course, now been subsumed by ‘A Policing Service for the Future’ , the four year implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing and rollout of the new Operating Model meets a key commitment in that regard.
As Minister for Justice and Equality, I have warmly welcomed the announcement by the Garda Commissioner of a new Operating Model of An Garda Síochána.
As I have previously confirmed, I was informed of the Commissioner's decision about the location of the new Divisional and Regional Headquarters on the morning of 25 September, shortly before the official announcement.
Neither I nor my officials were previously consulted in relation to the choice of those locations - in accordance with the law, the decision on the location of Garda Divisional and Regional Headquarters is and was solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team. This is the case in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, under which the allocation of Garda resources and deployment of Garda personnel are for the Commissioner. As recently as December 2018, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate in its report “Policing with Local Communities” confirmed that it is appropriate that the Commissioner should continue to hold responsibility of this sort.
I understand that the new model will be implemented on a phased basis throughout 2020 and that the Commissioner and his team are meeting with Joint Policing Committees across Ireland, providing opportunities for detailed engagement at the local level.