56. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if extra funding is being provided for Garda resources in the Cavan-Monaghan Garda division in 2019. [4168/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion. This represents an increase of over 6% over the initial allocation for 2018.
In terms of capital investment, €342 million is being invested in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021 to enable An Garda Síochána to deploy the latest cutting edge technologies and to deliver on reform. €46 million is being made available for investment in the Garda Fleet over the same period, in addition to the investment of almost €30 million in the fleet from 2013 to 2015. And further €60 million exchequer funding underpins the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme, which is a 5-year programme based on agreed Garda priorities benefiting over 30 locations around the country. This is in addition to the investment of approximately €100 million provided for the development of 3 major new Divisional and Regional Headquarters recently completed and entered into operational use at Galway, Wexford and Kevin Street, Dublin.
This significant current and capital investment in An Garda Síochána is in support of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country, to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.
It is a matter for the Commissioner to efficiently manage these resources provided for An Garda Síochána and to determine the allocation of budgets to all Divisions, including Cavan/ Monaghan Division, based upon operational requirements. I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review so as to ensure their optimum use.
For example, I can confirm to the Deputy a capital allocation of €10 million will be available to An Garda Síochána for the Garda fleet in 2019. I am not in a position to confirm to the Deputy today what the exact allocation will be across the Garda Divisions, including Cavan/Monaghan Division, of the additional Garda vehicles which will be purchased from this allocation. Equally I cannot confirm the allocation across the Divisions of the roll-out of additional ICT infrastructure across the Divisions. These matters will be determined by the Commissioner, in accordance with operational needs.
Nonetheless the Deputy may wish to be aware that the strength of the Garda fleet in the Cavan/Monaghan Division was 59 vehicles as at 31 December 2018, the latest date for which figures are available.
In terms of the Garda estate, I would first recall that the Office of Public Works (OPW) has the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation and accordingly the programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW.
I can confirm to the Deputy that the Garda Building and Refurbishment Programme includes provision for a new station in Bailieborough, County Cavan. I understand from the Garda authorities that the Part 9 Planning Application in that regard has been approved by the Commissioners for Public Works and that the OPW is currently finalising tender evaluation for the next stage. I am further informed that in advance of that new development, essential remedial works at the existing station in Bailieborough were completed in 2016, involving enhancements to the public office and safety improvements throughout the building.
In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to a pilot scheme to reopen 6 Garda stations to determine possible positive impacts on criminal activity, with special emphasis on burglaries, theft and public order. Bawnboy, County Cavan, is included in that pilot along with Ballinspittle, Co. Cork, Donard, Co. Wicklow, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow, and Rush and Stepaside, Co. Dublin. I am informed that the Garda authorities are continuing to engage with the OPW in relation to this project. As the works required are different at each of the 6 former stations, it can be expected that they will reopen at different times. I am informed that the works required at one station – Donard – have already been completed and the building has been handed over to An Garda Síochána by the OPW. I understand that implementation of the programme and reopening of all 5 remaining stations, including Bawnboy, is being pursued as a priority. I understand in that regard that the OPW expects works should be completed in each case in 2019.