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 Header Item Garda Stations Closures (Continued)
 Header Item National Positive Ageing Strategy Implementation

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter]  It is not the garda at the end of the telephone sitting at a desk who rushes out of the Garda station to provide the necessary policing assistance. That is provided through gardaí in patrol cars getting to the location where difficulties have occurred. There is nothing occurring which will in any way result in a diminution of the policing efficiency in Stepaside. In fact, the Stepaside community will benefit from the fact there will be new and more modern patrol cars available, and from the general increase in the number of gardaí available to engage in front-line policing, whether in crime prevention or detection.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I do not know whether the Minister has ever driven from Dundrum to Stepaside or Kilternan during rush hour. As he stated, it is between 6 km and 8 km away. The problem with moving people further away is that they are not necessarily going to be able to reach the scene of a crime as quickly. This is common sense. The problem with the attitude of the Commissioner and the authorities on all of these matters is that we always get explanations which are in terms of structures and vehicles. The gardaí will spend more time in their cars but this debate is about people and communities. It is no accident that 350 solid people turned up last Monday night fearful of the loss of a pivotal part of their community. They did so because they see the local garda and the local Garda station not only as part of their protection and security, which undoubtedly they are, but also as part of the community. One of the gardaí said quite specifically that it is important to have gardaí in an area so that children grow up to see them on the beat walking around and belonging in the area. This belonging is important so that it is part of them.

I understand the argument the Minister is making in terms of structures, but it is meaningless in terms of people. It is also meaningless in terms of what people feel about their community and what the people of Stepaside and the surrounding area feel is being removed from their community. Will the Minister, in deference to these people, meet a group from the community who want to express their views on this issue? I will bring them in to meet the Minister so he can hear what they have to say.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Deputy Ross has trumped Deputy Mathews on the delegation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I assure Deputy Ross I am well able to meet people from my constituency without it being necessary for him to troop them in to me. Deputy Ross well knows he is choosing to ignore what I said earlier. He seems to have a very odd view of policing. He seems to think a large number of members of the Garda Síochána sit in Dundrum Garda station waiting for a call. This is not what policing is about. Deputy Ross chooses to make an argument with no credibility. I reiterate what I said earlier. This frees up gardaí for front-line policing and reforms the Garda station network. What it does, and what it will continue to do, is ensure the Stepaside area, as well as all other areas in south Dublin, are properly policed, patrol cars are on the roads and not parked in Dundrum Garda station awaiting a phone call and gardaí are on the beat engaged in community policing.

The difficulty with Deputy Ross's position on this issue, like so many others, is that he is a serial protester who is opposed to any innovation and reform and anything that could result in the more efficient use of resources. In other areas he castigates the Government for not being efficient, but it is extraordinary how whenever something is done to introduce efficiencies he always has a reason to oppose it. I agree this is about people. It is regrettable that Deputy Ross called a meeting which was designed to create alarm. It was a meeting for his own political purposes. If Deputy Ross had an interest in me as Minister for Justice and Equality addressing the meeting he would have advised me of it and I would have been happy to have attended. I would not unilaterally intrude on a personal meeting which he arranged.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross It was a public meeting advertised in the constituency. The Minister would not go to a public meeting; he must be invited.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It suited the Deputy to arrange it in that way because it was a crass piece of local party politics-----

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Minister would not go to a public meeting because he must be invited.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter -----designed for his own personal benefit-----

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Minister is a member of the public as well.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter -----and designed and intended to create alarm and concern for individuals who have no reason to be alarmed or concerned because what we are doing, and I reiterate it, is using our police resources wisely. No crime is prevented by the existence of bricks and mortar and a garda sitting in a Garda station. Crime is prevented by gardaí being out on the beat, by patrol cars being out and available and having the facility to come to people urgently when difficulties arise. The reality in this case is that this is part of crucial reform which will ensure for people in Stepaside they have the policing service to which they are entitled, and that we use to the maximum possible extent our well-trained Garda force to engage in policing and not be confined to desk duties.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Minister will have to be invited to more meetings. The Minister may not realise it but he is a member of the public. He does not have to be invited. Members of the public are invited-----

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Obviously I struck a nerve. Deputies Ross and Joe Higgins have a lot in common. They are serial protestors about everything.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Minister is not a member of the public any more. He is way above it.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter If Deputy Ross wished me to attend the meeting he could have arranged it and I would have been there.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley It is great to see Deputy Ross getting into the old parish pump politics.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Minister for Justice and Equality; God almighty.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Deputy Ross is making a fool of himself again.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross And he is Minister for Defence.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter If he were really interested in the issue he might have tabled a parliamentary question on it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Minister for nothing.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is extraordinary it took the Deputy two weeks to raise this issue in the House. Other Deputies raised issues about Garda stations during Question Time.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross We will have a special meeting for the Minister and we will issue him with a gold-plated invitation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter It is probably inconvenient to the Deputy to be in the House for Question Time because he is so rarely here participating.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt We will move on to the next Topical Issue raised by Deputy Timmy Dooley.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley I would be very happy to let two intellectual beasts of the House-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I would not.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Then I will not do the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's job for him, but it would be entertaining to hear the two intellectual beasts deal with local parish pump issues. It is great to hear them in touch with reality for a change.

National Positive Ageing Strategy Implementation

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this important issue. It is the last Dáil sitting day of 2012 and sadly the long awaited positive ageing strategy continues to be long awaited. There have been numerous false dawns signalling the imminent publication of this strategy but the most concrete assurance was by the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch. Initially, it was to have been done last October and definitely to have been before Cabinet for approval by the end of the year. To the best of my knowledge there will not be another Cabinet meeting before the end of the year but perhaps the Minister will enlighten us in this regard. If there is a Cabinet meeting perhaps he will be able to resolve the Stepaside issue also.

Is it possible that part of the issue may surround resourcing in the Department? There seem to be issues in the section dealing with the office for older people. Have many people left the section and, if so, have they been replaced? Are sufficient policy personnel available to work on the issue? There seem to be policy development personnel in the Department of Health and I would have thought they would be available to assist in drafting this strategy under the guidance of the Minister and the Government. Why has this resource issue not been tackled, which would be in accordance with the Croke Park agreement? There simply seems to be no great urgency by the Government in dealing with the issue. If there was, the strategy would have been published by now.

Perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Lynch, holds too many portfolios. Unlike in the previous Government, no dedicated Minister of State with responsibility for older people has been appointed. When the Government was initially appointed the portfolio was not even awarded. A stop-gap solution was put in place to handle the fallout around this oversight with regard to older people, and the tag was shoved on to the end of the Minister of State's extensive list of responsibilities.

Strategically this is a key policy area for future planning and if we are anticipating the future ageing of the population and pension issues as looming crises, which I believe we are and we should, then we are already running out of time to put in place the planning structures needed for delivering some key strategic interventions to plan for the future.


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