74. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda members and Garda Reserve members assigned to the Meath Garda division in each of the past five years in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11960/16]


Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. I am assured by the Garda Commissioner that the allocation of Gardaí is continually monitored and reviewed taking into account all relevant factors including crime trends, demographics, and security assessments relating to the area in question so as to ensure optimal use is made of Garda human resources.
I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of members and reserve members assigned to the Meath Garda Division on the 31 March 2016, the latest date for which information is readily available, and on the 31 December 2011 to 2015, is as set out in the following table.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime. Key to achieving this goal is the commitment in the Programme for Government, "A Programme for a Partnership Government" to continue the ongoing accelerated Garda recruitment programme with a view to increasing Garda numbers to 15,000.
As the Deputy will be aware, when the financial crisis hit, the Government of the time introduced a moratorium on recruitment and the four year National Recovery Plan, published in 2010, envisaged a steady reduction in Garda numbers. Thankfully, in a recovering economy, we were able to reopen the Garda College in September 2014, a total of 700 Garda trainees have been recruited with a further 450 planned to be recruited during the remainder of this year. So far 395 of the new Garda trainees have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream uniform duties nationwide. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that 15 newly attested Gardaí have been assigned to Meath Garda Division.
It is expected that a further 300 trainees will attest by the end of this year which, taking account of projected retirements, will bring Garda numbers to around the 13,000 mark. We must, I believe, endeavour to make more rapid progress than this to reach our target of 15,000 and I am engaging with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, in relation to increasing the planned annual intake this year and in coming years
Meath Garda Division

Date Garda Reserve
31/03/2016 286 28
31/12/2015 277 33
31/12/2014 281 42
31/12/2013 287 44
31/12/2012 296 33
31/12/2011 302 28