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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 193-201
 Header Item Private Security Authority Licence Applications
 Header Item Garda Policing Plans
 Header Item Garda Policing Plans
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Stations Closures
 Header Item Garda Vetting Applications
 Header Item Foreign Military Personnel

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 795 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 193-201

Private Security Authority Licence Applications

 193. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will examine an application for employee security licence to the Private Security Authority in October 2012 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11925/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Private Security Authority (PSA) is the regulatory body with responsibility for the regulation of the security industry in Ireland. The Authority is an independent body under the aegis of my Department and so the processing of licence applications is a matter solely for the Authority. I am however informed by the Authority that a licence will issue in the coming days for the individual concerned.

  Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 22.

Garda Policing Plans

 195. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any consultation took place with the Garda Representative Association in the drafting of the policing plan for 2013 which recommended the closure of 100 Garda stations across the State.  [11949/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána articulates its strategic plans by way of a Strategy Statement and an Annual Policing Plan. The Strategy Statement 2013-2015 which was published on 25 January 2013 will be actioned through a series of three annual Policing Plans, the first of which is the Policing Plan for 2013. A significant consultation process was undertaken in the preparation of the Strategy Statement 2013-2015 and this process included consultations with all the representative associations. I am also informed by the Garda authorities that all Garda staff associations were briefed on the Organisation Change and Development programme which included station closures and district amalgamations.

Garda Policing Plans

 196. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if any consultation took place with local communities in the drafting of the policing plan for 2013.  [11950/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that An Garda Síochána articulates its strategic plans by way of a Strategy Statement and an Annual Policing Plan. The Strategy Statement 2013-2015 which was published on 25 January 2013 will be actioned through a series of three annual Policing Plans, the first of which is the Policing Plan 2013.

A significant consultation process was undertaken in the preparation of the Strategy Statement 2013-2015 and this included the following activities: A questionnaire was placed on the Garda website which was completed by 1,544 respondents; A questionnaire was placed on the Garda portal which was completed by 444 members of the Garda organisation; Letters requesting submissions were sent to 159 organisations with whom An Garda Síochána interacts; Face to face interviews were held with in excess of 30 of the organisation’s key partners and stakeholders including selected community groups; The views/proposals of all Assistant Commissioners and Executive Directors in relation to the policing of the State for the next three years were requested and submitted; The results of this extensive consultation were used to inform and develop the Strategy Statement 2013-2015 and the Policing Plan 2013.

Garda Stations Closures

 197. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will instruct the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, to meet with the local community in Stepaside, County Dublin, prior to the scheduled closure of the local Garda station.  [11951/13]

 198. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will suspend the closure of Stepaside Garda station, County Dublin, until the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, has met with local residents and taken consideration of their concerns.  [11952/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

The decision to close 100 Garda stations in 2013, including Stepaside Garda Station, was the result of a comprehensive operational assessment carried out by the Garda Commissioner over a 12 month period and contained in his Policing Plan 2013, which I laid before the House in December last. It is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to make a final decision on the date of closure of Stepaside Garda Station and I have no function in that regard. The objective of modernising and re-calibrating the Garda station network is to ensure that Garda resources are used in the best and most efficient way possible, in both rural and urban areas, to the benefit of all law-abiding people who reside in this State. The freeing up of Gardaí from desk duties in Stepaside and other Garda Stations will increase the number of Gardaí available for frontline policing to the benefit of all communities. Nationally, revised policing arrangements will result in an additional 61,000 operational policing hours in 2013.

The implementation of the reduction in the number of Garda stations and Districts will take place in full consultation with the local communities and staffing interests. Local Garda management have engaged and will continue to engage with communities through the Joint Policing Committees and other fora to advise them of the revised policing arrangements following the closure of any particular Garda station. The objective is to ensure that the best possible policing service is provided to the public at all times.

The Deputy will be aware that Stepaside is in the Blackrock District in the Dublin Metropolitan Eastern Division. Stepaside Garda Station is approximately 3 miles from Dundrum Garda Station. As of 31 January 2013, there are 35 members of An Garda Síochána assigned to the Stepaside Garda Station. The majority will be allocated to Dundrum Garda Station and some will be allocated to Blackrock Garda Station. The objective of modernising and re-calibrating the Garda station network is to ensure that Garda resources are used in the best and most efficient way possible, in both rural and urban areas, to the benefit of all law-abiding people who reside in this State. The freeing up of Gardaí from desk duties in Stepaside Garda Station will increase the number of Gardaí available for frontline policing to the benefit of the community there.

Garda Stations Closures

 199. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his plans for the 100 buildings currently used as Garda stations which are due to be closed as a result of the policing plan for 2013.  [11953/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Garda stations closed under the 2013 Garda Síochána Annual Policing Plan form part of the portfolio of State properties owned and maintained by the Office of Public Works. Minister Hayes, who has responsibility for the Office of Public Works, has indicated that, if an appropriate community management structure is put in place, closed stations could be used for local community purposes.

Garda Vetting Applications

 200. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if his attention has been drawn to the delays in processing Garda vetting applications, notwithstanding the efforts of the bureau to deal as quickly as possible with the significant volume it receives, in view of the fact that the delays being experienced are having serious implications both for prospective employees and employers as these persons cannot commence their employment until Garda vetting has been completed; the steps he will take to allocate additional staff to deal with the backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12021/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for approximately 20,000 organisations in Ireland which employ personnel to work in a full time part time, voluntary or student capacity with children and or vulnerable adults and who are registered with the Unit for this purpose. The Unit processed approximately 328,000 vetting applications on behalf of these organisations in 2012. The current average processing time is approximately 8 to 10 weeks. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion. All organisations are aware of the processing time frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection processes.

The Deputy may wish to note that in order to observe equity and fairness in respect of all applicants for Garda vetting, the standard procedure is that all applications from no matter what organisation are processed in chronological order from their date of receipt. It is my objective that processing times should be kept to a minimum, while maintaining the overall integrity of the vetting system. In that regard, following recent discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, sanction was recently granted for an additional 25 staff to be re-deployed from the Department of Agriculture to the Garda Central Vetting Unit in the near future.

The Deputy may wish to note that Garda Central Vetting Unit will become the National Vetting Bureau under the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and will have a substantially expanded role under that legislation. I am currently engaged with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in addressing the staffing issues relevant to the coming into force of the 2012 Act.

Foreign Military Personnel

 201. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the arrangements, if any, in addition to the Defence Act, that apply to the wearing of uniforms by foreign military personnel, and in particular US military personnel, inside and outside Shannon Airport. [11919/13]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Where requests are received by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for permission for persons to enter the State wearing any foreign uniform in accordance with Section 317 of the Defence Act, 1954, they may be forwarded to my Department for observations and information purposes. Foreign military personnel enter the State from time to time in order to attend official meetings, seminars, courses and various diplomatic and other social functions. In many cases, these personnel arrive in the State in civilian attire and only wear uniform at the particular function or meeting in question. This is, in general, standard international military custom and practice. Visits of foreign Naval vessels are also arranged through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Such arrangements generally include the wearing of uniforms ashore as part of the routine protocol arrangements.

In the context of the requirements of Section 317 of the Defence Act, 1954, the US authorities have been given express permission for their military personnel to wear uniforms in the transit areas of Irish airports, including Shannon Airport. When their onward flight is delayed for operational reasons, it may be necessary to accommodate transiting military personnel in nearby hotels. In such cases, permission may also be sought from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for them to wear uniform in the hotel and on their way to and from it.


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