CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Commissioner, Minister Ford, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, new members of An Garda Síochána,
It is truly a pleasure and an honour for me to be present here today for your graduation ceremony. I would also particularly like to welcome my Northern Ireland colleague and friend, David Ford who has the honour of being the first Minister for Justice in Northern Ireland following the devolution of Policing and Justice to Stormont. As Justice Ministers, David and I are taking every opportunity to strengthen the links between all of the law enforcement agencies on this Island and David's presence here today is another step along that road.
To all of the new graduates, this is a great day not just for you, but for your families and friends, without whose support and understanding you could not have undertaken the demands of training and service in An Garda Síochána. You can rightly be very proud of your achievement. The fact that you have made it through a most demanding training system is a testament to your hard work, diligence and determination.
This is the beginning of a new chapter in each of your lives. As Gardaí in modern Ireland, you will face many challenges and many demands in your future careers. As you begin your service as a Garda, the message I want to convey to you today is that it must always be your priority, in enforcing the law, to respect the rights and the dignity of each individual and to treat all people fairly and impartially.
It is vitally important that the Gardaí have the trust of the community. That trust has been won and maintained by generations of individual Gardaí just like you performing their duties to the highest standards.
I have no doubt that, as Gardaí serving in the community, you will maintain the proud traditions of An Garda Síochána and strengthen the links with those communities and enhance their respect and support for the Force. Let courtesy, common sense and integrity be your guiding principles and the support of your local community will be assured. That support is vital to the functioning of An Garda Síochána.
One form of crime that can have devastating consequences for local communities is organised crime. In the course of your careers, you will see the effects of the activities of organised criminals at local, national, and international level. Law enforcement agencies both nationally and internationally must work together if the rule of law is to prevail. To effectively tackle this issue, as Minister, I am committed to ensuring that mechanisms for inter-agency cooperation not only exist but are built upon and utilised.
The benefits of agencies working together to target crime were clearly demonstrated to the Commissioner, to Minister Ford and myself, at the 8th Annual Cross Border Organised Crime Policing Seminar which was held earlier this month in Belfast. At that seminar, we saw members of An Garda Síochána, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Revenue's Customs Service, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the Criminal Assets Bureau and the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) sitting around the same table working hand in hand to ensure that no criminal is allowed to use the Border to avoid justice.
We only have to look at the work of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to see first hand the success of multi-agency cooperation in tackling organised crime. The CAB Annual Report for 2009, which was launched earlier this week, once again demonstrates how effective the multi-agency approach is in targeting the proceeds of criminal activity. While the CAB Report highlights the more high profile successes which tend to attract much media attention, you must never lose sight of the positive effects that even the smallest of actions by you can and will have on your communities. As Gardaí embarking on a challenging career, I want you to know that as Minister I am strongly committed to providing you with the support and the resources necessary to enable you to fulfill your role.
Even in these very difficult economic times, where no sector can be immune from the pressure to reduce costs, I am determined to secure the maximum possible level of resources for the Force. As we face tough economic challenges I am determined that the first priority will continue to be frontline policing and the fight against crime. As Minister I will continue to provide the support you need, in terms of investment in resources, policies and legislation, to carry out your work effectively.
Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the staff of the Garda College. Their dedication and commitment, which is reflected in the high standard of training received by the Gardaí graduating from the College, deserve the highest praise.
Finally, I would like to congratulate you all once again on your achievement and to wish you all success, satisfaction and fulfilment in your future careers. I hope that you, and all of your families and friends, enjoy the rest of this memorable day.
Go raibh míle maith agaibh.