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 Header Item Departmental Reviews (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
 Header Item Crime Prevention

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1008 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton] The report of the Hamilton review group, the Review of Structures and Strategies to Prevent, Investigate and Penalise Economic Crime and Corruption, was published in December 2020. It contains a number of recommendations focusing primarily on legislative, structural and resourcing measures to enhance the capacity of agency and multi-agency enforcement, and the prevention of corruption and white-collar crime.

The Minister, Deputy McEntee, published the cross-government plan on implementing the Hamilton review on 19 April 2021. The implementation plan sets out 22 actions to be completed by State agencies and Departments to progress the Hamilton report’s recommendations within the next year and a half, and sets timelines for the completion of these actions. The actions in the implementation plan include an advisory council against economic crime and corruption to advise and make proposals on strategic and policy responses that will be established at the centre of Government by the autumn; a multi-annual strategy to combat economic crime and corruption will be developed and submitted to Cabinet by next spring; and a resourcing plan for the long-term needs of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau will be submitted by An Garda Síochána to the Policing Authority and Department of Justice by this summer. Legislation to extend the surveillance powers currently available to An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners to other bodies with a remit to investigate economic crime and corruption is to be developed by the end of this year, among other legislative proposals.

I can inform the Deputy that work is under way in my Department to establish a cross-sector, partnership-based advisory council against economic crime and corruption to lead implementation of the action plan, including the establishment of a forum of operational representatives.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy There are many positive things in the Hamilton report. It is about seeing it delivered on. I would prefer if there were a single agency but we will disagree on that. Of the 20 or so actions and business cases that were flagged for completion of quarter 2 of this year, how many of them will be achieved? Are they on target? If they are going to be implemented effectively, there must be collaboration between the various law enforcement agencies. How will that be achieved? How will existing agencies and public authorities be handled in terms of whether they are meeting each other and whether there is co-operation? Will there be co-operation and how will that be achieved? Is there a plan of action for the legislative process, because we do not want to see delays on that front?

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton The draft terms of reference for the advisory council and forum of senior representatives are at an advanced stage of development. Preparatory meetings of the relevant Departments and agencies have already taken place to finalise them for both groups. It is important to say that the actions contained in the implementation plan are not solely the responsibility of the Department of Justice and they will fall to be implemented by a number of other Departments and bodies. For instance, matters relating to the ethics in public office review are for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, while recommendations to strengthen competition law fall within the remit of the Tánaiste and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

On progressing the implementation of plan, since it was agreed by the Government in April significant progress has been made in implementing the structural and systemic recommendations. These recommendations lay the foundations for advancing many of the actions in the plan. Draft terms of reference for the advisory council and the forum of senior representatives have been prepared, and consultation on these texts are at an advanced stage.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy The Hamilton report identified a significant number of issues in terms of agency resources such as personnel, ICT, and other issues. Are they going to be provided for in tandem or will we see them at the tail end of the process? Is that likely to be something which will be undertaken? Very often, we see legislation as policy but in fact it is about the implementation. How will that and procurement and recruitment be handled? I am concerned we will continue with a fragmented approach. Other jurisdictions have introduced an anti-corruption agency as opposed to various agencies. It is easier to hold one agency to account.

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton On the resources allocated to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, GNECB, I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that as of 30 April this year there are 89 garda members assigned to the GNECB, with the breakdown being one chief superintendent, two superintendents, two inspectors, 22 sergeants, and 62 garda. This represents an increase of 17 members deployed to the bureau since the end of February this year. Further staff are due to be assigned to the bureau in 2021, following interviews held in 2020. The reassignment of all garda staff was impacted by Covid-19 demands. The allocation of garda staff to specialist units, including the GNECB, has recently commenced. Therefore, resourcing will be supplied.

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Crime Prevention

 115. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys  the way her Department intends to support the implementation of the proposals within a report completed by a person (details supplied) on challenges of criminal activities affecting the community in Dublin 17. [28087/21]

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton This question relates to the progress in implementing the policing dimensions of a report by Jack Nolan, a former senior garda, into the problems and "enduring challenges", as he called them, in an area of Dublin 17.

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton I welcome the recent report which has set out a socio-economic and community plan for Darndale and the surrounding areas in Dublin 17. Under the justice plan 2021, my Department is committed to supporting and working with Dublin City Council, DCC, to ensure the implementation of the report on Darndale, Belcamp and Moatview.

As the Deputy is aware, DCC commissioned this report in response to the escalating levels of violence in these areas of north Dublin in 2019 and 2020. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the areas’ assets, services, and significant levels of State supports, as well as its inherent challenges. The Darndale implementation oversight group was established in February of this year and meets monthly, and is chaired by former Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan. The importance placed on the implementation of the report by An Garda Síochána is demonstrated by the presence of the local chief superintendent, superintendent and inspector, all of whom sit on the group. Further reflecting the importance of this work, the implementation group and my Department have agreed that the Department will also now be part of this group.

While many of the report's recommendations relate to issues such as youth services, drugs services, the physical environment and community services and facilities, I am informed that implementation of the Garda actions is well under way, including the community hub proposal. As well as important recommendations related to crime prevention and dismantling gangs, two key recommendations include the need to strengthen community participation and leadership, and the need for more collaboration in the delivery of State services. This closely aligns with the work my Department is undertaking to develop a new community safety policy in line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. This new policy will ensure communities are safer and feel safer by making community safety a whole-of-government responsibility and priority, to be delivered at a local level through community safety partnerships, supported through a national governance structure. Three pilot partnerships are being established in Dublin's north inner city, Longford and Waterford and will run for the next two years.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Is the Minister of State in a position to report on whether there is any progress in, as she rightly says, the disruption of crime gangs that are a real problem? In the prevention of young people getting sucked into the backwash of the drugs trade and in the setting up a structured community policing for those three neighbourhoods, do we have concrete evidence of new resources and methods in place?

Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: Information on Hildegarde Naughton Zoom on Hildegarde Naughton The Garda youth diversion projects are a fundamental support to the operation of the statutory Garda diversion programmes and provide a vital ingredient in enhancing community policing partnerships. These partnerships are community based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives. There are 105 Garda youth diversion projects nationally and the intention is to further develop the service so it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from this.

On the budget for the Garda youth diversion projects, €18 million of funding has been provided in 2021 with a further allocation of €3 million for the Greentown pilot projects, the bail supervision scheme and the University of Limerick research evidence into policy, programmes and practice project. There is much work under way in relation to this.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I very much appreciate that. Can the Minister of State monitor the progress indicators of that initiative over time? Also, is she involved in the action, as envisaged in the programme for Government, of looking at districts like this on a wider basis and mirroring what happened in the north-east inner city, where there could be an education dimension, a youth services dimension, a tenancy policy dimension and so on?

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