110. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to restore the budgets for the Garda divisions in the northern region which were recently reduced; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that such reductions impede the essential policing requirements of Border divisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38203/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote and as such is responsible for the effective and efficient use of the resources at his disposal. Those resources have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2018 of more than €1.6 billion, including almost €100 million for overtime. I am informed by the Garda authorities that policing requirements are addressed in accordance with operational requirements, as determined by the Commissioner.
This budgetary provision as well as the significant capital investment in An Garda Síochána in recent years are in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country, to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
The Deputy will be aware that the Government has put a plan in place to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 Garda personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. Taking account of projected retirements, Garda numbers are expected to reach 14,000 by the end of this year and 15,000 during 2021.
In terms of capital investment, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies and to deliver projects associated with the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme. The Capital Plan 2016-2021 also provides €46 million for investment in the Garda Fleet to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet, in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the fleet in the period 2013 to 2015. Significant investment is also being made in addressing deficiencies in the Garda estate. In particular, the Garda Síochána Building and Refurbishment Programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious 5-year programme, based on agreed Garda priorities, involving over €60 million exchequer funding and benefiting over 30 locations around the country.