43. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí in each Garda station in counties Longford and Roscommon as of 1 November 2017; the number of community gardaí in the division; and the number of Garda Reserve and new recruits assigned to the division since recruitment resumed in 2014. (Question 51668/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017)

Deputy Eugene Murphy: I ask the Minister the number of gardaí in each Garda station in the Longford-Roscommon division on 1 November 2017-----

Deputy Charles Flanagan: These are more mundane matters. They are the bread and butter of the Department.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: It is where the votes are.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: -----the number of community gardaí in the division and the numbers of Garda Reserve and new recruits assigned to the division since recruitment resumed in 2014. I represent the Roscommon-Galway constituency, but, as the Minister understands, this issue relates to the Roscommon-Longford division.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: The distribution of Garda personnel is exclusively the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner. Notwithstanding the Commissioner’s responsibility for the distribution of gardaí, I have provided a breakdown, in tabular form, of the detailed information requested by the Deputy. The Garda strength of the Roscommon-Longford division on 31 October 2017 was 309, of which ten were community gardaí. There are also nine Garda Reserve and 29 Garda civilian staff attached to the division. When appropriate, the work of local gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the armed support unit, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Drugs and Organised crime Bureau.

As the Deputy is aware, the Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country, including in Longford and Roscommon, in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance for citizens and deter crime.  To achieve this, the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda force of 21,000 personnel by 2021, comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Garda Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, close to 1,400 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. Of these, ten have been assigned to the Roscommon-Longford division.  I look forward to attending the graduation of another 200 trainee gardaí on Friday which will see Garda numbers, taking account of projected retirements, increase to around the 13,500 mark by year end, a net increase of 500 since this time last year.

I am also pleased that budget 2018 maintains this high level of investment in the Garda force and ensures the vision of an overall workforce of 21,000 by 2021 remains on track. I acknowledge that the moratorium on recruitment introduced in 2010 resulted in a reduction to a significant degree in the strength of An Garda Síochána.  We are now rebuilding the organisation and providing the Garda Commissioner with the resources needed to deploy increasing numbers of gardaí across every Garda division, including the Roscommon-Longford division, about which the Deputy is rightly concerned.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  BALLINLOUGH          2
  BOYLE                26
  CASTLEREA            37
  ELPHIN               2
  FRENCHPARK           2
  KEADUE               1
  ROOSKY               3
  STROKESTOWN          5
  TULSK                2
  TOTAL 89
GRANARD                DRUMLISH             2
  GRANARD              33
  SMEAR                1
  TOTAL 47
LONGFORD               BALLYMAHON           9
  KENAGH               1
  LANESBORO            6
  LONGFORD             72
  TOTAL 88
ROSCOMMON              ATHLEAGUE            1
  CLONARK              6
  ROSCOMMON            78
  TOTAL 85

Deputy Eugene Murphy: I thank the Minister for the reply. There is some positive news in it, but in 2010 in the Longford-Roscommon Garda division there were 301 full-time gardaí. The Minister has given a figure of 309, ten of whom are community gardaí. That means that there are 299 full-time gardaí. We can compare that number with the figure in 2010 and see that it has decreased, albeit slightly. In the meantime, there have been many extra challenges for An Garda Síochána which we all know is doing a wonderful job. I accept that the Garda College was closed for a while, that there were some tough years and that in the past three years or so there have been improvements, but we need to put more effort into this issue and recruit more gardaí. I welcome the Minister’s comments that new recruits will be deployed in the near future. In 2010 the Boyle Garda district had 41 full-time gardaí. There are 18 there today. I accept that there have been some minor adjustments in the locality, but there has been an overall drop in the number of gardaí serving there. In the Castlerea Garda district there has been a major drop in numbers. There are some new recruits who are badly needed.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. The number of gardaí in the Roscommon-Longford division, as of 31 October 2017, was 309. This time last year the figure was 301; in 2015 it was 292; in 2014 it was 285; in 2013 it was 285 and in 2012 it was 280. There are now more active Garda members in the Roscommon-Longford division than at any time since 2009.

On the particular stations referred to by the Deputy, in Castlerea there is a total complement of 37 gardaí. In Edgeworthstown there are 11 gardaí; in Ballymahon there are nine, while in Boyle in north County Roscommon which has been referred to and which is a very busy station there are 26, giving a total complement as of 31 October of 309. I will attend a ceremony in the Garda College in Templemore on Friday and it is fair to say that, of the new recruits, a number will be spread across the country, including Longford and Roscommon.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: When he initially answered the question, I understood the Minister indicated that there were 309 gardaí in the district, including ten community gardaí. Is that correct?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Yes.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: If it is, we are talking about a lower figure of 299 full-time gardaí. I will not get into the figures, but the point I wish to make is that as far back as 2010 we had 301 full-time gardaí in the division. If we subtract the ten community gardaí from the figure of 309, there are 299 gardaí. There will be new recruits and the Minister might give some indication that some of them will be deployed to Castlerea Garda station as there is grave concern in the area that there is not enough manpower available because of the size of the district that must be covered. This point has been made by members of the community and the Garda Representative Association. Will the Minister give an indication that some of the new recruits will be deployed to counties Longford and Roscommon, with particular reference to Castlerea Garda station?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: I will be happy to provide that information for the Deputy. The figure of 309 includes the ten community gardaí who, of course, are fully fledged members of An Garda Síochána. To be added to this figure are the members of the Garda Reserve.

5 o’clock

The Deputy referred to Castlerea Garda station. As he is aware, the work of local gardaí is augmented by support from the national divisions. I am happy to provide the Deputy with specific information on the garda complement in Castlerea. As I said, the total number of gardaí in the division is 309. I want to see more members of the Garda Reserve coming into that area. I acknowledge the work of the local joint policing committee, which feeds directly into decisions of the Garda Commissioner regarding the distribution of gardái.