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Question

124. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which adequate resources remain available to An Garda Síochána for the pursuit of organised and drug related crime; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15935/17]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware all Gardaí have a responsibility in the prevention and detection of criminal activity whether it be in the area of drug offences or otherwise. I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continues to pro-actively and resolutely tackle all forms of drug and organised crime in this jurisdiction.
In 2015 the Garda Commissioner, who is responsible for the allocation of Garda Resources, established a new national Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. The Bureau continues to lead out the policing strategy for tackling drugs by demand reduction and supply reduction strategies. In this regard the Bureau continues its policy of working with Divisional Drug Units nationwide in tackling supply reduction at local level. This work is further supported by other national units, including the Criminal Assets Bureau, in targeting persons involved in the illicit sale and supply of drugs. This approach allows for the co-ordinated use of Garda resources in tackling all forms of organised crime, including illicit drug activity nationwide.
Furthermore, the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau has continued to make significant seizures of controlled drugs as evidenced by a number of significant seizures made in January this year including a huge seizure of herbal cannabis - estimated at that time to have a street value of over €30 million - made as a result of a targeted joint operation involving An Garda Síochána and Revenue's Customs Service.
Multi-disciplinary approaches are also utilised to ensure that those involved in illicit activity are effectively targeted including through the use of the Proceeds of Crime legislation, money laundering legislation and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
I am informed that this approach adopts good practice in implementing a co-ordinated use of Garda resources and in utilising available criminal law to its fullest extent in tackling all forms of organised crime, including drug trafficking.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. This year, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Funding has also been provided for the recruitment of 300 Garda Reserves.
This focus on investment in personnel is critical. The moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a significant reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána. We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Commissioner with the resources she needs to allow her to deploy increasing numbers of Gardaí across the organisation including the Divisional Drugs Units.
The investment in personnel is complemented by substantial investment in resources across the board for An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware of the significant resources that have been made available to An Garda Síochána under the Government's Capital Plan 2016 - 2021. In particular, some €205 million in additional funding for Garda ICT and €46 million for new Garda vehicles has been allocated over the lifetime of the plan. This investment will facilitate the provision of more effective policing services and support An Garda Síochána in tackling illicit drug activity.