40. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda members in the Meath division. [4167/19]


Deputy Charles Flanagan: As the Deputy is aware, the manner in which the resources of the Garda Síochána are deployed is solely a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his management team. I, as Minister, have no direct role in the process. I can, however, assure Deputy Thomas Byrne that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure optimum use is made of resources.
I am informed by the Commissioner that as of 31 December 2018, the most recent date for which figures are readily available, the strength of the Meath division was 318. There are also 13 Garda Reserves and 30 civilians attached to the division.
It is important to note that the increased specialisation within An Garda Síochána means that the number of gardaí assigned to various divisions does not include those assigned to various specialist bureaus or units that include the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the armed support units, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, all of which are particularly active, as the Deputy will appreciate, in the Meath division. Around 200 extra gardaí were assigned to the specialist bureaus within Special Crime Operations since 2017.
Since the reopening of the Garda College in Templemore in September 2014, almost 2,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties up and down the country. Some 73 of these were assigned to the Meath division. This accelerated recruitment of officers led to Garda numbers reaching just over 14,000 by the end of 2018.
Furthermore, the Commissioner has been allocated an additional €100 million for 2019. This will bring his total budget to almost €1.8 billion.  This substantial investment will allow the accelerated recruitment programme to continue at the same time that new and leading edge technology is deployed to An Garda Síochána to support our front-line officers in carrying out their work of delivering a visible, responsive and effective police service in Meath and elsewhere.