Posted on January 31, 2013 11:31 AM   |   Permanent Link   

Firstly, in the time available, I would like to pay my respects to Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, who was laid to rest today.

I would also like to express my deepest condolences to his family, his colleagues and his friends.

I am deeply saddened and shocked by his brutal and cold blooded shooting.

Many other Gardai have been killed in similar circumstances. I particularly recall the killing of Garda Michael Reynolds in 1976 for a number of reasons. Firstly, he was shot dead in St. Ann's Park in Raheny near where I live; secondly both us went to the same secondary school in Ballinasloe at the same, and I was acquainted with him. When someone you know is killed brutally in the line of duty it brings to you how that killing must have an impact on the family, close friends, and colleagues of that policeman and the many other policemen on both sides of the border who were killed since the Northern troubles began.

I have no doubt at all that those responsible for the murder of Detective Garda Donohoe will be brought to justice.

I feel that now is not the most appropriate time to discuss the politics of policing at what is a very sensitive time both for the Gardai, and indeed the family of Detective Garda Donohoe.

I believe that reductions in Garda expenditure are not the cause of the murder of Detective Garda Donohoe. Given the events of the past several days, I think this debate should have been delayed until a more appropriate time. But as it is going ahead, I would like to briefly comment.

It should be noted that the Justice Sector secured €2.243 billion in 2012 and €2.2 billion for 2013 which was over the amounts which would have been allocated by FF.

It is also worth noting that, despite the cuts in last year's budget, €4 million was made available to purchase 213 new Garda vehicles. Dedicated funding of €5 million has also been made for this purpose in 2013.

I believe that these figures all speak for themselves.
I am also very pleased that the new Garda Divisional Headquarters for Kevin Street in Dublin was included with two other Garda Divisional Headquarters in the special Government stimulus package announced last July. The provision of these facilities will significantly enhance Garda capacity to carry out their functions more effectively.

In terms of the closure of some Garda stations, let us reflect on the reality of the Garda station network up until these closures. The network was essentially the same as the Royal Irish Constabulary network in 1922. Such a large-scale static deployment of resources is no longer appropriate in the present day, where the transport and communications infrastructure have been transformed beyond recognition.

The Garda Síochána have a class-leading police computer system, a state-of-the-art digital radio system, and a transport fleet which is currently receiving significant investment. The new Garda roster currently being piloted provides a better match between Garda availability and policing demand.

We also need to be honest about the level of policing service that was capable of being provided from the stations that were and are to be closed. Of the 100 stations to be closed in 2013, 98% are open part-time, 94% are open for 3 hours a day or less, 88% are served by 1 Garda and only 5% are served by 3 or more Garda personnel.

I believe that everything possible has been done to maintain the resources available to An Garda Síochána at the highest possible level.