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 Header Item Garda Deployment (Continued)
 Header Item Garda Divisional Headquarters

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 7

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan] Garda armed support units provide a rapid armed response capacity and capability on a regional basis. Members of the armed support units in Border areas are highly trained and equipped with a variety of non-lethal and lethal weapons and perform high-visibility armed checkpoints and patrols throughout their respective regions. In the northern region armed support units are currently based in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and Dundalk, County Louth, both of which are in close proximity to the Border, as well as the recently announced unit in Cavan.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín The processes and tools being used by the Government seem, to an extent, to be frozen in time. While everyone in this Chamber supports the Good Friday Agreement, evolution in cross-Border integration and co-operation is necessary.

On cross-Border hot pursuits, which different jurisdictions in Europe already allow for, would the Government not at least consider this and enter negotiations with its counterpart in London to see if it is possible to achieve?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I acknowledge the importance of ensuring that this jurisdiction fully monitors international best practice and developments. We should note exchanges and the open recruitment policy of An Garda Síochána in order to facilitate persons who may have experience in other police services applying to An Garda Síochána. I once again record the importance of the appointment of Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, having regard to his extensive experience and expertise in a neighbouring police service.

An Garda Síochána continues to work closely with the Revenue Commissioners and the joint agencies, North and South, on excise fraud, including illicit trade in fuel, tobacco and alcohol, which is an area of serious concern, as well as gangland and organised crime along the Border areas. These are not peculiar to Northern Ireland or the Irish Border but are a feature of all international borders.

On the operational duty issues, to which Deputy Tóibín referred, these are largely a matter for the Commissioner. I assure the House that the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, is engaged at the highest level in ensuring that the best possible measures are taken in order to protect communities and prevent crime.

Garda Divisional Headquarters

 9. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the status of the development of the new regional Garda headquarters in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11984/19]

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin I have raised the matter of the new regional Garda headquarters in Caltragh in Sligo with the Minister several times. There may have been some difficulties, not with the Department of Justice and Equality, but perhaps the Office of Public Works in acquiring three of the sites as public private partnerships are being used in the cases of Clonmel, Macroom and Sligo. An announcement was made in relation to Macroom and Sligo. Has there been a hold up in Clonmel? The local Garda Representative Association has expressed concern about the delay since the announcement.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Garda building and refurbishment programme 2016-2021 is an ambitious five-year programme based on agreed Garda priorities, which continues to benefit over 30 locations around the country, underpinned by significant Exchequer funding across the Garda and Office of Public Works Votes.  In addition to that programme, other major works to the Garda estate which are ongoing include the pilot Garda station reopening project, the development of a new facility at Military Road and the major refurbishment of Fitzgibbon Street station, both in Dublin.

I emphasise that the clear goal of this investment is to address deficiencies in the Garda estate and provide fit-for-purpose facilities for Garda members and staff, as well as the public interacting with them.  There has been some good progress in relation to the Garda estate in recent times, including in particular the completion and entry into operational use in 2018 of three new divisional and regional headquarters in Wexford, Galway and Kevin Street, Dublin, which collectively required funding of over €100 million.

The public private partnership arrangement included in the building and refurbishment programme is intended to deliver new stations in Sligo, Macroom and Clonmel, as well as a new custody suite at the Garda station located on Anglesea Street in Cork city.

Site acquisition for this public private partnership bundle has been complex and has taken longer than originally envisaged.  I have been informed by the Office of Public Works and the Garda authorities that the Office of Public Works acquired sites for the development of the new stations in Macroom and Sligo in 2015 and 2018, respectively. I am informed by the Office of Public Works that all difficulties in relation to completion of the acquisition of the site in Clonmel were recently resolved and that that transfer is now also agreed.  It was necessary to secure all three sites before the public private partnership could proceed to the next stage.

The development of public private partnership projects is progressed under the auspices of the National Development Finance Agency. My Department and the Garda authorities are working to progress this matter, with the input and assistance of the National Development Finance Agency.  My Department is also engaging with the Office of Public Works in relation to the assistance that it may be able to provide to the process, including direct engagement on the matter between the Secretary General of my Department and the Chair of the Office of Public Works. 

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin I thank the Minister for his update. I was concerned, as were many others in Sligo and in the Garda Representative Association, at the delay at the Clonmel site which may have caused other difficulties. Recently, the Minister visited the Sligo station at my request, where he met with the powers that be. He saw first-hand the need for the regional Garda headquarters. The site in Sligo is very fine and acceptable to all in the area. Now that the Office of Public Works has acquired the three sites which it will proceed with using public private partnership, I hope we will see progress in the not too distant future.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I acknowledge the interest of Deputy McLoughlin in the acquisition of the site for the Garda station in Sligo and in ensuring that the legal, technical and design issues can be dealt with as expeditiously as possible in order to ensure that the Garda in Sligo have every modern resource available to them in the course of their duties. That includes a modern and fit-for-purpose Garda station.

I am sure Deputy McLoughlin will acknowledge that public private partnership projects are complex. The details are technical. It is vital to get the details of the projects right at planning and design stage. I assure Deputy McLoughlin that the delivery of the new Garda station in Sligo, along with those in Clonmel and Macroom, which are being done through the public private partnership arrangement, is being pursued as a priority and that I will keep him fully informed of developments.

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin I welcome the Minister's comments. I must record that he has been very supportive to me and to Sligo in relation to the new regional Garda headquarters. We are making progress. It is only a matter of time. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, we will see progress with the start of the three projects, which constitute a unit under the public private partnership bundle. I welcome this, as do the people of Sligo and the surrounding areas. I acknowledge the wonderful work being done everyday by An Garda Síochána in my area, which the Minister acknowledged when he visited the station and met with the chief superintendent as well as others based in Garda units in Sligo and its surrounding areas, including Leitrim. I welcome the Minister's comments that the project will continue and that he will keep me informed about its progress.


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