318. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí available throughout County Kildare and the country in general to respond to any needs of the general public or emergencies arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58169/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will appreciate, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, which includes the deployment of Garda members throughout the State. As Minister, I have no role in this independent function. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review, in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.
I have been informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2021, the latest date for which figures are available, there are 426 Garda Members assigned to the Kildare Division. This is an increase of 36.5% since the end of 2015, when there were 312 members assigned to the Division. I am further advised that the overall strength of An Garda Síochána is 14,298 sworn members of all ranks, an increase of over 11.5% since the end of 2015 .
I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to enhancing community safety and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service.
The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.952 billion for 2021 and over €2 billion in funding in Budget 2022. Indeed since 2016, the budget for An Garda Síochána has increased by some €500m, or approximately 33%. This has enabled 3,340 new probationer Gardaí to be deployed, as well as continued investment in modern equipment. In addition, over 800 Gardaí have been redeployed to front line policing work through the recruitment of Garda staff.
I am delighted that Budget 2022 includes funding for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - a further additional 1,200 personnel. This planned increase in the number of Garda members and staff is designed to deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved public safety and services to the public generally.
Redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and support roles will also continue next year, thus allowing highly trained Gardaí to focus on frontline policing duties. The organisation's capacity will be further strengthened by the recruitment of additional Garda staff, including to specialist roles to support the investigation of crime and enhance the management of the organisation.
An Garda Síochána have advised that a recruitment plan for 2022 is currently being developed to manage the recruitment processes for Garda members and Garda staff roles. Implementation will of course be dependent on public health guidelines but I very much hope it will be possible to maximise the intake to Templemore next year. I understand there are a number of successful candidates still to be called from the last competition but I am delighted to confirm that a new Garda Trainee competition is also being planned for early next year.
Both the Garda Commissioner and I are particularly keen that the new competition will focus on the need for greater diversity among rank and file Gardaí and we would encourage all those with an interest in joining the organisation to consider doing so.