Adjournment Debate. - Justice Matters.

Wednesday, 8 April 1992

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 418 No. 5

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Mrs. T. Ahearn: Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn  I thank the Chair for allowing me to raise the need to provide a new Garda station in Cahir to replace the dilapidated and appalling station there. This question has a history of broken promises. The ESB offices in Cahir were purchased two years ago with the intention of providing a new Garda station. I tabled a parliamentary question on 18 December 1990 asking when the repair and renovation would take place so that we would have a new garda [1304] station. I was informed by the Minister that detailed planning was proceeding and that it was hoped to be able to invite tenders for the work and place a contract as soon as possible. Last September we were informed that work was about to commence yet at this stage nothing has happened.

It is very unfair to a tremendous police force in Cahir who are surviving in appalling conditions. Having visited the Garda station, I was alarmed to find that the basement was rat infested. The duty room is surrounded by rotten timber, plaster is falling off the walls and there is dampness throughout. The building has been deemed unsafe from a fire and evacuation point of view. There is no doctor's room, no recreation room, no sergeant's room. There are not separate toilet or shower facilities for the staff.

This is very unfair to the tremendous police force which we are lucky to have in Cahir. They should be given the facilities they deserve. I am not just waiting to hear where we are on the priority list. I want to know the date for the commencement of work so that some relief and hope will be given to the staff in that station.

Minister for Justice (Mr. Flynn): Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I can assure the Deputy that I am completely committed to bringing Garda accommodation in all divisions to a proper standard. It was in this same spirit that the Garda building programme was launched seven years ago, since then, over £35 million has been spent on the programme, a considerable investment by any standards. The programme has seen the replacement of eight divisional headquarters, 13 district headquarters, 30 smaller stations as well as four major extensions.

This expenditure has seen some of the worst black spots removed, but I accept that it has by no means dealt completely with the problem. The building programme is based on priorities agreed after consultation with the Garda authorities. We deal with them as best we can, taking the most urgent needs first.

[1305] As Deputy Ahearn rightly points out, Cahir is certainly in need of a new station. It is top of the priority list. In consultation with the Garda, plans have been finalised, tenders have been sought and work is due to commence before the end of the year. That is a ministerial promise.

The Deputy will appreciate that, given available resources, each project must be examined within the context of priorities across the country. The Tipperary division alone has seen eight new stations since the programme began, at a total cost of almost £2 million. A new district headquarters, in Tipperary town is to be completed in May of this year, and the station in Carrick-on-Suir is due to be completed in November. I am pleased that work will commence on Cahir Garda station this year.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  I last raised the general issue of the inadequate policing of the Dublin North-East constituency in this House on 20 June last and I appreciate permission to raise the matter again, specifically because of the recurring outbreaks of lawlessness, housebreaking, vandalism and drug abuse which are plaguing the constituency as a whole. I recently attended a meeting of residents of the Alden-Verbena district of Bayside in Sutton where the experience of residents brought home to me the fact that, whatever promises had been given in the House by the Minister, the constituency generally is very poorly policed and needs urgent attention. I repeat the general point that in Dublin we have the phenomenon of crime moving from the city centre to the suburbs. In many respects we have been taken unawares. Figures indicate that, for example, at Howth Garda station numbers have decreased since 1986 from 38 to 32. People believe that Howth station may be closed in the near future. I hope the Minister can scotch that rumour.

I would ask him to address the possibility of opening a new police station in Donaghmede. There is a project for an extra 1,000 dwellings to be built in that area in the next five years. Problems are intolerable in that the people of the district [1306] are beset from time to time by a wave of crime carried out by a small few. It requires urgent attention from the Minister in consultation with the Commissioner with regard to the allocation of adequate personnel to the district generally.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  I am informed by the Garda authorities that two additional gardaí have been assigned to Howth Garda station in recent weeks and that the question of allocating further additional manpower to the station is being considered in the light of overall demands on Garda manpower in the Dublin Metropolitan area. The additional members assigned to Howth are operating in plainclothes and they have been quite successful to date in detecting a number of local crimes in respect of which two persons are currently before the courts.

The other matters to which the Deputy refers are not the subject matter of his question, but I have taken note of his comments and I will bring the matter before the relevant authorities. I hope there will be a substantial improvement in the situation.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  The appalling saga of the individual of whom I speak began with the collapse in highly controversial circumstances of his meat firm, Towey Meats of Ballaghaderreen in 1980. Following on the collapse he was investigated for fraud by the Garda Fraud Squade but for some very strange reason this fraud investigation was not allowed to be completed. In other words, the Fraud Squad were taken off the investigation. The amount of money owed by this company at the time of their collapse, most of which was owed to small cattle producers who had supplied cattle to the Ballaghaderreen factory, was approximately £2.5 million.

Early in 1981 Mr. Towey came under the notice of the Garda at Ballyneety in County Limerick, where he was found to have in his possession at least one lethal firearm, a Kalashnikov rifle of the type used by terrorist organisations, and several rounds of ammunition. His case [1307] eventually got a first hearing at Limerick district court on 8 December 1981, but by that time he had absconded to Spain. A warrant was issued for his arrest but it was well known to the authorities that he was living in Spain and enjoying a most extravagant lifestyle. The publicity surrounding his lavish lifestyle culminated in a television documentary a few years ago showing the property he owned, the property deals in which he was involved and the fact that he was using a false identity. No attempt was made to have him extradited to face the serious criminal charges filed against him in this country.

I call on the Minister to let this House know what steps have been taken to bring this man back to Ireland to face the charges against him. If, as I suspect, the answer is none, I would ask the Minister to tell the House what steps will be taken to extradite him. I do not want an answer like the evasive rubbish I was given by way of written reply to this question on 4 February last.

The law and the courts in this country have sentenced people like itinerants to prison for the larceny of as little as £10. Others steal millions from small people and break our laws in a spectacular way. They then abscond to enjoy their illgotten gains. Very often the law stands idly by like an ass, even though it has the instruments and the wherewithal to deal with these people. It is little wonder that there is a widespread belief abroad in this country that if you have powerful political friends, as this Mr. Towey had, and perhaps still has, you can do anything and get away with it. The Minister can [1308] dispel that belief by giving a positive reply on this matter.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  This is going to be a short reply because I am not at all sure that some of the matters that have been addressed by the Deputy have been taken in the proper way. It certainly has not been the practice in dealing with these matters on previous occasions to name people in the House.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Does the Minister find that embarrassing?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I would have much preferred that names were not mentioned and that the person was not identified. The charges were such that I would have preferred if the matter was raised by way of substantive motion rather than in this manner.

Mr. Flynn: Information on Pádraig Flynn  Zoom on Pádraig Flynn  That is the reason the Ceann Comhairle disallowed a major portion of the Deputy's question. It is not the practice for Ministers for Justice either to confirm or to deny the existence of particular extradition requests or whether proceedings have been initiated in a specific case in advance of an arrest or the bringing of an individual before a court. There is a very simple reason. Apart from other considerations, the disclosure of information of this kind in relation to a particular case could seriously hinder appropriate Garda action. It is not my intention to pursue the matter further in the House at this time.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  That is quite appalling.

The Dáil adjourned at 11.15 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 9 April 1992.

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