Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Policing with the Community in 20009

Sinn Féin welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Garda Policing Plan 2009.  This is our second time to make a submission to the annual Garda plans, the first being one year ago.  This process of consultation of political parties, commenced by An Garda Síochána last year, has been a very positive experience. Sinn Féin was pleased to conclude that the Garda Policing Plan 2008 was a marked improvement on plans for previous years and to note that some of the positive elements contained in it mirrored aspects of our own submission.  We trust that this submission will be equally well received.

We want to see an all-island police service established. And we hope that the Policing Plan 2008 and all future policing plans and corporate strategies will work towards the establishment of an all-Ireland policing service.

In the interim, we want policing services North and South that can attract widespread support from, and that are seen as an integral part of, the host community as a whole. We want effective policing with local democratic accountability, shaped as a community service and imbued with a human rights ethos.

Our submission aims to build-upon and add to the positive elements of the Policing Plan 2008.  It also learns lessons from a number of developments in 2008 including the Morris and Hartnett reports and makes recommendations arising out of those.  Our sound and realistic proposals are grounded in the views of communities themselves gleaned through a year-long process of participative consultation with urban and rural communities in every province. 

This year’s submission again puts a substantive focus on serious drug and gun crime and on anti-social behaviour and public order offences.  A new section expressly focused on rural policing recognises that while many policing needs are common to both rural and urban settings some needs may be particular to, or more pertinent to, rural communities. Likewise a further new section makes proposals specific to policing services for older people, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

All of our proposals and recommendations are made in the context of recession and of the resultant tightening budgetary constraints.  It is our belief that measures can be taken to deploy Gardaí more effectively and efficiently within current funding provisions. 

Our submission points to the potential of a re-prioritisation of policing missions accompanied by the redirection of resources to match those priorities.  We discuss the cost of overdependence on Garda overtime and the potential for new rostering arrangements to address this.  And we again demonstrate the need for a process of civilianisation to be expedited to a level equivalent with our neighbouring jurisdictions in order to quickly and cost-effectively free-up fully trained Gardaí.