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Dáil Quetion on Garda Reserves in Kildare – December 2015

QUESTION NO: 396

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Kathleen Lynch)
by Deputy Anthony Lawlor
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 01/12/2015
* To ask the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the proposed Primary Care centre for Celbridge, County Kildare; when the centre will be open to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Anthony Lawlor T.D.
REPLY.
Your question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply as the delivery of the health care infrastructure is a service matter.
If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office who will follow up on the matter.

QUESTION NO: 81

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Anthony Lawlor
for ORAL on Tuesday, 1st December, 2015.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda Síochána Reserves; the number in County Kildare; their role in the community; if they should be more proactive in community policing; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor
REPLY.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel, including, reserve members among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 October 2015, the latest date for which figures are readily available, there are 988 reserve members in total, of which 32 are assigned to the Kildare Garda Division.

The Garda Reserve was established in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to enhance the links between An Garda Síochána and local communities and consists of voluntary unpaid members, drawn from the community, to support the work of An Garda Síochána. Reserve members make a real and tangible contribution to the policing of communities right across the country and I am fully supportive of the continued development of the Reserve. In particular, I welcome the recent conferring by the Commissioner of additional powers on reserve members under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and also her decision that reserve members should carry out additional duties including the serving of summonses, and the issuing of Fixed Charged Penalty Notices where offences are detected.

I am pleased that the recruitment campaign for 2016 for full-time members of An Garda Síochána, which I announced last Friday, 27 November includes a special stream for eligible members of the Garda Reserve. Reserve members have undergone training in many of the skills required to be an effective full-time member of An Garda Síochána and have gained experience in operational policing and it is right that satisfactory service by a reserve member be given due recognition.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) is organising the recruitment competition on behalf of the Garda Commissions and applications may be made through the PAS website at www.publicjobs.ie. The closing date for applications is Tuesday 5 January 2016. I would encourage all reserves who satisfy the eligibility criteria to apply

QUESTION NO: 83

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald)
by Deputy Anthony Lawlor
for ORAL on Tuesday, 1st December, 2015.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures in place to relieve Gardaí of administrative duties, and to allow them to concentrate their efforts on crime prevention; her plans to focus on this; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Anthony Lawlor
REPLY.
As the Deputy will appreciate the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda Regions, Divisions, and Districts. Garda management keep this distribution under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of resources.

There are currently over 2,000 full-time-equivalent civilian support staff in the Garda Síochána making up 14% of the overall Garda workforce. Civilian personnel wholly or largely staff several vital operational support areas such as the Garda Central Vetting Unit, the Garda Information Services Centre, and the Fixed Charge Processing Office They also provide vital support services in a wide range of areas, such as human resources, training & development, IT and telecommunications, finance and procurement, internal audit, research and analysis, accommodation and fleet management, scene-of-crime support and medical services. In doing so, they release highly trained Gardaí from administrative tasks to operational policing.

I am committed to ensuring that the overall composition of the Garda workforce achieves the right balance between highly trained Gardaí and professional, skilled civilian staff. Having regard to international experience, there is undoubtedly value in exploring further opportunities for increasing the ratio of civilians to Gardaí, and for releasing Gardaí from administrative and other positions to front-line duties.

The process which is currently ongoing to civilianise border control functions at Dublin airport and the transfer of these responsibilities from An Garda Síochána to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is an excellent example of this. The first phase of that project is now completed with civilian staff of INIS operating all passport controls in Terminal 1 on a 24/7 basis from 22 June, 2015. The civilianisation of front-line immigration checks in Terminal 2 is underway with civilian staff operating checks at the transit desk in that Terminal since October, 2015. The move to a 24/7 civilian operation in Terminal 2 will be completed over the coming months. I am also looking at deploying civilian officers to other major ports of entry to the State where this makes sense from a cost and efficiency perspective.

Further work in this area will be progressed in conjunction with the Garda Commissioner in the context of the report of the Garda Inspectorate of its review under the Haddington Road Agreement. The terms of reference of that review include all aspects of the operation and administration of An Garda Síochána including the structure, organisation and staffing of An Garda Síochána and the deployment of members and civilian staff to relevant and appropriate roles.