161. Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice the number of community gardaí in the Clonakilty, Bandon and Bantry Garda districts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57974/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible by law for the management of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no responsibility for these matters.
I am advised however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging trends.
To date, the official categorisation as a Community Garda has simply referred to those exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. However, it is important to note that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. This has perhaps never been more clear than in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years.
Indeed, community policing is also fundamental to the new Garda Operating Model recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and currently being rolled out under 'A Policing Service for Our Future', the Government's implementation plan for the Commission's recommendations.
As of 31 October 2021, there is one Community Garda in each of the Clonakilty, Bandon and Bantry Garda Stations. These figures are consistent with this time last year. The Deputy may wish to further note that the total number of Gardaí across the three districts is 226 as at 31 October 2021, which represents an 8% increase since 2016.