On Tuesday, I had a Priority Parliamentary Question with the Department of Health and I asked whether the Ministers agreed that persons with disabilities should have a right to a Personal Assistant Service as outlined in Article 19 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Unfortunately, Minister Finian McGrath refused to commit to legislation for the Optional Protocol guaranteeing such a right.
This morning, we had another homicide on O’Connell Street. That follows a string of terrible murders in my constituency, the Taoiseach’s constituency and across the northside generally. Nearly two weeks ago I wrote to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister with responsibility for communities asking if they were prepared to set up some kind of interdepartmental task force to examine the resources that hard-pressed, disadvantaged communities need, especially those that are deeply affected by serious anti-social and criminal behaviour, including these recent murders. Is that something the Taoiseach would embark on given that it was his party’s Governments that slashed spending and resources to the many community bodies in my constituency over the past eight years since 2011? As he knows, I am a director of a number of those bodies.
This week, our constituency was rocked by a two dastardly gun murders in broad daylight. I sought to adjourn order to stop the Dáil to immediately debate the serious need for urgent intervention from An Garda Síochána, Dublin City Council and the Government. Instead, I was granted a Topical Issue Debate and, on the floor of the Dáil, on Tuesday, myself and Minister of State in the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, discussed the need for greatly enhanced community supports and additional resources for the Gardaí to combat this rise in gangland crime in the North of Dublin.
On Monday, I posted a note to my website and facebook to inform constituents that my Saturday information clinics in Donaghmede are now at the earlier time of 10.30am and that my mobile information clinic is in Donaghmede Shopping Centre carpark itself (near the Newbrook Road entrance to the shopping Centre). I informed constituents that due to these changes in access to parking at Donaghmede, I will now also be at Clonshaugh Shopping Centre from 9.45am and then Bayside Shopping Centre for 12.30pm.
The Taoiseach might recall that last week I asked him and the Minister for Justice and Equality what steps are being taken in response to an appalling shooting and murder in my constituency. That dastardly crime was the latest in a litany of gun murders, which include tragic victims recently in Swords and Leixlip. The Minister for Justice and Equality told me in January that the Garda’s Operation Hybrid had resulted in 86 arrests and the seizure of 91 firearms, including machine guns and assault rifles. I welcome the work of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in the investigation of gun crime but the number of firearms seized in almost four years seems low by comparison with the number of reported crimes. There is a significant number of unsolved gun crimes.
Today, during Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Broughan has called on the Taoiseach and Fine Gael to ensure that the need for a Garda Station and greater police presence is highlighted with Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris. Deputy Broughan told the Taoiseach that some districts of Dublin Bay North have being suffering greatly from burglaries, car theft and related joyriding, illegal dumping and serious nightly anti-social and criminal behaviour. Deputy Broughan said that while nationally homicides and a number of other crime categories thankfully fell in 2018, there are disturbing rises in several types of crime in recent figures recently presented at the DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region) North Joint Policing Committee. These include assaults, burglary, criminal damage, thefts, public order incidents and domestic violence.
I would like to ask the Taoiseach about the high-level report on the Department of Justice and Equality, which was produced by Mr. Ó Ríordáin and which, according to Mr. Pat Leahy, makes some important points regarding accountability and the budget and resources of An Garda Síochána. When will that be published? Will the Dáil get a chance to discuss it?
Why was there no public competition for the position of Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality? The latter is a key Department of Government. Everybody believes that most government-related jobs should be filled through public competition. Why was there no competition in this case? The appointee, Mr. O’Driscoll, has a fine track record but we would have expected a public competition.
I refer to the criminal procedure Bill. When the Taoiseach was recently in the constituency of my colleague, Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan, I think he told community leaders he was tough on crime and on the causes of crime, which has always been my own policy, even before the Blairites coined the phrase. However, given a recent series of horrendous events during the storm and ongoing serious civil disturbances in my constituency, is it not the case that the Taoiseach is denying An Garda Síochána the level of resources it needs, and is it not therefore the reality that for many communities in this city the Taoiseach is actually soft on crime?
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I wish a speedy recovery to the garda who was injured in the line of duty last week. When such an incident happens it is a reminder of the grave dangers of the job of protecting and serving our communities and that our respect and gratitude must be extended to our Garda public servants, those men and women who put their lives on the line for us.
Just a few weeks after the school holidays began last summer and over following weeks I received shocking reports from delegations of my constituents about outrageous anti-social and criminal behaviour involving joyriding and related mayhem being inflicted on residents night after night and often all throughout the night.
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I am grateful for the opportunity to make a brief contribution today on this important legislation, the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2016, which will amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 by adding new substances to the controlled list, make provision for a number of related matters such as the revocation of some statutory instruments, the transferring of functions on granting licences to the Health Products Regulatory Authority from the Minister for Health and adding the definitions of “registered nurse” and “registered midwife” to those allowed to administer medical prescriptions.