413. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the funding mechanism available from her Department to support community text alert schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13325/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Garda Text Alert Scheme, which was developed with the support of Muintir na Tíre, Neighbourhood Watch and the Irish Farmers Association, was introduced in September 2013 and there are now in excess of 500 local groups involving over 100,000 subscribers. The scheme provides an additional and effective means for Gardaí to distribute crime prevention information and advice and there are in the region of 200,000 text messages sent under the scheme each month.
Guidelines for establishing and operating a Community Text Alert Service have been published and are available on the Garda Website www.garda.ie and information and advice on establishing such a scheme is available from local Community Gardaí. Neither my Department nor An Garda Síochána provide funding for the setting up of Text Alert Schemes.
The position is that for many years my Department has supported community crime prevention by provided funding for the Community Alert programme, which is operated by Muintir na Tíre in partnership with the Garda authorities, and supports over 1,300 local groups including many of the above text alert schemes. My Department does not provide direct funding to local groups, but funding is provided in relation to the employment and associated costs of the national service, including regional Development Officers. The long-standing view has been that this is the best use of the resources available to my Department to support effective community crime prevention actions.