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 Header Item Direct Provision System (Continued)
 Header Item Garda Deployment

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 7

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Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Such attacks on potential centres for direct provision are abhorrent and condemned by all right-thinking members of society. I do not have the specific information requested by the Deputy. However, these issues are the subject of Garda investigations and it is following certain lines of inquiry.

The provision of security in these areas is, in the main, the responsibility of the owners or the contractors. It is important in this regard that the contractors work to achieve a balance between ensuring security concerns are adequately met but also recognising the fact that these accommodation centres are homes for applicants seeking protection and will remain so as their applications are processed.

As well as the private security arrangements, the obligations in terms of the protection of communities and people on the part of the Garda Síochána in Moville and Rooskey should be noted. There is a Garda station located 1 km from the Caiseal Mara hotel in Moville. There are two Garda stations in the vicinity of the Shannon Key West Hotel in Rooskey, one in Rooskey, County Roscommon, and one in Mohill, County Leitrim. I am sure the Garda in terms of protection and prevention is actively engaged in accordance with local needs.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins The Minister stated these centres are run by contractors and operators. They are commercial bodies contracted to the State to carry out a service. He also stated they have to achieve a balance because the centres act as a home for the people who live in them.

The Minister will recall the case just before Christmas in the Knockalisheen accommodation centre on the outskirts of Limerick city when a lady, Donnah Vuma, was denied a slice of bread and a glass of milk for a sick child in the middle of the night. The operator-contractor ultimately apologised for how she was treated. Several days before the incident, the lady in question was asked to share a platform with the President, Michael D. Higgins, at an event to promote good relations with the immigrant community and integration. There is the dichotomy of her sharing a platform with the President on one particular day and then, at the reception centre, being denied a slice of bread and a glass of milk for a sick child because it was late at night. As well as having to provide security for people living in reception centres, is the Minister satisfied these contractors are treating people humanely and decently? This case highlighted a real fall in standards. Is the Minister happy it was just an isolated case or were there other cases of which we have not heard? We heard of this particular case because the lady in question communicated it to the public at large through Facebook and the media picked it up. Are there other cases like this that we need to be concerned about?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Every effort is made to ensure proper and adequate standards are in place in the centres. In this regard, I acknowledge the work in particular of retired judge, Bryan McMahon, and a small group of people who regularly engage in ensuring adequate and proper standards are met on all occasions at these centres and, similarly, in respect of the Reception and Integration Agency.

I understand in the particular case in question due contact was made. In all circumstances, every effort must be made to ensure standards do not lapse in these centres.

I acknowledge the challenge of direct provision and the combination for those seeking international protection and asylum seekers. The Department is again seeking expressions of interest to ensure we have appropriate centres at which standards are fully complied with.

Garda Deployment

 8. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 261 and 262 of 22 January 2019, if consideration will be given to the provision of additional staffing and financial resources to the Border region in 2019 in view of concerns about Brexit and ongoing cross-Border criminality; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11996/19]

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins I am taking this question on behalf of my colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith, who is unable to attend the Chamber.

  Will consideration be given to the provision of additional staffing and financial resources to the Border region in 2019 in view of concerns about Brexit and ongoing cross-Border criminality?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan In common with all Departments and State agencies, An Garda Síochána has been preparing for Brexit. There is ongoing engagement between senior Garda management and my Department in this regard. Preparation has had a wide-ranging focus on operational requirements, including personnel, infrastructure and technology. The Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, is committed to ensuring the organisation can deal with any policing challenges arising from Brexit. Clearly, however, the circumstances which may arise are dependent on the ultimate political settlement.

The Government's policy is that there will be no hard border on the island and there are no plans for such. However, policing in the Border region has always presented particular challenges. This can be expected to increase in the context of the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. It is also the case that violent dissident republican groups continue to seek to frustrate counter-terrorism efforts while organised criminals seek to exploit the two jurisdictions to try to evade detection.

The 2018 cross-Border threat assessment, prepared jointly by An Garda Síochána and the PSNI, estimated 43% of organised crime gangs in Northern Ireland have a cross-Border dimension. Likewise, mobile organised crime groups, responsible for multiple instances of domestic burglary, operate on an all-island basis. There are increasing instances of borderless crimes such as cyberfraud and international terrorism.

The success of cross-Border policing actions is grounded in the recognition that the best means of combating the threat to our communities is to maintain and enhance the excellent levels of co-operation between law enforcement agencies north and south of the Border. The Garda and the PSNI, along with other agencies, have worked together closely for many years and enjoy an excellent working relationship and co-operation at all levels. The Fresh Start agreement recognised this and led to the establishment of joint agency investigation teams which have had considerable success in combating this type of crime. This is also the context for the Garda Commissioner’s operational decision to establish an additional armed support unit in Cavan.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín It is interesting the Minister discussed the efforts by the Government to put in place resources to militate against cross-Border crime. Has the Minister considered allowing the PSNI or the Garda to follow criminals across the Border? There are European Union member states which allow national police forces to cross borders when they are in pursuit of individuals. Does the Minister think it is logical that a criminal can whizz across the Border with ease, yet the law enforcement agencies in Ireland have to stop on an imaginary line? Would it be logical to progress to some level of co-operation at that depth to ensure we can challenge the existence of criminality on the Border?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan While I acknowledge the close level of co-operation between the Garda in the South and the PSNI in the North, the establishment of the joint agency investigation teams is important. However, it does not allow for the type of hot pursuit that Deputy Tóibín envisages.

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