67. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans in place to police the Border in the event of a hard Brexit. [4392/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is coordinating the whole-of-Government response to Brexit. In this capacity, he is working closely with all Ministers, including myself, to address, in a joined up manner, the many challenges Brexit will present.
In keeping with Government policy, there are no plans to provide for a hard border on the island. However, Brexit does increase the risk that dissidents and criminals may seek to undermine peace on the island and engage in general illegal cross border activities.
The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for operational matters including the distribution of personnel, which is kept under review in line with operational and security demands.
An Garda Síochána is preparing for Brexit with a wide-ranging focus to determine operational requirements, including personnel, infrastructure, training and technology and will continue to progress their contingency preparations. They are committed to ensuring the organisation is prepared for the associated policing implications and challenges arising from Brexit.
I want to assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána has the full support of the Government in dealing with the implications of Brexit and will provide the resources required to keep our people and our communities safe.
The Commissioner has been provided with an additional €100 million in 2019 bringing his total budget to almost €1.8 billion. This substantial investment will allow the accelerated recruitment programme to continue in tandem with new and leading edge technology being deployed to support our front line Gardaí in carrying out their work and increasing visibility in the Border Divisions.
The Garda Commissioner intends to recruit 600 trainee Gardaí and 600 Garda Staff (civilians) in 2019 The recruitment of these additional Garda staff will facilitate the redeployment this year of 500 fully trained Gardaí from administrative duties to frontline duties for which they are trained.
As part of the ongoing increase in Garda resources, the Commissioner has deployed a number of additional Gardaí to border counties in recent months and this will continue.
In the event that a “no deal” Brexit gives rise to additional requirements in border areas, further resources can be provided through normal deployment. These requirements will be kept under ongoing review by Garda management and detailed consideration given in due course to the medium to long-term implications.
The Deputy will also be aware that there is close and ongoing cooperation between An Garda Síochána and the PSNI on all aspects of policing, with a particular focus on combatting security threats and cross-border crime. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI, who are responsible for operational policing cooperation, have repeatedly emphasised the scope and the value of the close and high quality cooperation between the two police services in combating crime, protecting community safety and saving lives. The two police services operate a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island.