Minister for Justice Alan Shatter believes it would be inappropriate and ineffective for the Civil Defence to be involved in policing in Tallaght, Co Dublin, the Dáil has heard.
Minister of State Paschal Donohoe said the Minister “would not accept the proposition that the Civil Defence is required in respect of the policing arrangements in Tallaght or any other area”.
He was responding to Tallaght-based Labour TD Eamonn Maloney who called for Judge Anthony Halpin to withdraw remarks he made at Tallaght District Court yesterday suggesting the Civil Defence might be needed to assist gardaí.
Judge Halpin said he was seriously concerned about a “total breakdown of social order” in the area and there had been so many incidents and suggested the possible need for Civil Defence involvement.
Mr Maloney, TD for Dublin South West said: “I want to reject that entirely. I’m one of the almost 100,000 citizens who live in Tallaght and I can confirm that no such situation in Tallaght exists.”
The Government backbencher said the judge “has incensed the local population”. He said: “I think it is a very regrettable statement to make.”
Speaking in the Dáil, he added: “We are constantly reminded as legislators about straying into the judicial area or courts, and I agree with that. But likewise, judges have a responsibility and in this case these remarks were grossly, grossly insensitive and he should withdraw them.”
Speaking for the Minister, Mr Donohoe said: "The Minister for Justice is very, very clearly of the view that policing is a matter for the appropriate organisation and that organisation is clearly An Garda Síochána, our national police force."
The Minister for Justice “considers that it would neither be appropriate nor effective to engage the Civil Defence in support of general measures to combat crime”.
He told the House: “The Minister would not consider it appropriate to comment on remarks made by a member of the judiciary, apparently during the course of court proceedings.”
Mr Donohoe said “I appreciate the huge strength of the social order in Tallaght and in all parts of the country. The precise reason that has built up is due to the co-operation ... between An Garda Síochána and all the communities represented there.”
He said Alan Shatter was in ongoing contact with the Garda through the Commissioner, who “ensures him that very significant resources are effectively deployed to meet policing needs in Tallaght”.
He said 174 members of the force were assigned to the area, supplemented by 14 members of the Garda Reserve and supported by 11 civilian staff.
Mr Donohoe said serious crime and public order offences had decreased in 2013 compared to 2012.
He said: “The Minister is very conscious of the serious concerns in the Tallaght area arising from two recent deaths. Both incidents are under active consideration... Several charges have been brought in respect of one of these incidents.”
He added: “The role of the Civil Defence is very clear. It is a volunteer area. Their role is support to emergency services, generally in relation to dealing with severe weather, fire fighting and searching for missing people. Their role does not extend to policing or crime prevention matters.”