197. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice the measures being taken to combat the theft of trees to be used as Christmas trees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57131/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, the administration of An Garda Síochána, including its various crime prevention operations, fall within the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner. As Minister, I have no role in these matters.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that Operation Hurdle has been established in the Wicklow Division each year since 2012 to target the theft of Christmas trees in the period between the end of October and Christmas.
Operation Hurdle 2021 is running in conjunction with COVID-19 national policing patrols in the Wicklow Division and Operation Thor checkpoints, stopping and checking vehicles transporting Christmas trees. The operation focuses on improving liaison with local Christmas tree growers, their staff and security staff. Patrols are carried out around Christmas tree farms in the Division.
I am informed that while detection is difficult, prevention is key and community policing has centred on a joint effort by local growers and their security staff, together with improved security procedures, combined with focused Garda activity targeting suspects and the vehicles of those involved.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the operation has had a significant impact on reducing the level of Christmas tree theft over recent years.