Fine Gael need to come clean on future of Garda stations – Reilly
Responding to a parliamentary question from the Minister for Justice which stated that there were no proposals to re-open any Garda stations in 2016, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has called out local Fine Gael TDs to outline their plans for rural policing.
Senator Reilly said:
“In rural areas, there has been a growing concern that the closure of local Garda stations has reduced Garda visibility and made rural communities vulnerable to crime. This has contributed to many older people feeling vulnerable in their homes, particularly those in isolated areas. In addition, farmers have increasingly found themselves dealing with the theft of valuable farm machinery and livestock.
“A response to a parliamentary question from the Minister for Justice stated that there were no proposals to re-open any Garda stations in 2016. Since 2006, there has been a reduction of 10 Garda stations in Cavan/Monaghan, 9 of which have been under the current Fine Gael/Labour Government. The people of Clontibret, Smithboro, Tullyvin, Newbliss, Stradone, Bawnboy, Corrinshigagh, Redhills and Shantonagh were promised a democratic revolution- but instead they were made more vulnerable to rural crime.
“Similarly, according to the Garda Representative Association (GRA), there are around 2,500 fewer Gardaí since 2010. There are serious fears about the ability of the Gardaí to provide the standard of policing as demanded and necessitated by the public. These concerns have also been expressed by the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).
“It is against this backdrop that we see the creation of environment in which crime is increasing; a reduction of Gardaí available and closures of Garda stations is well known to increase cases of theft and burglary. The decision to close Garda stations in order to make small savings to the exchequer merely increases the opportunity for criminal activity and add to the uncertainty and fear that citizens in this state are already experiencing. We see reports from County Monaghan only this weekend of burglaries and suspicious activity, which only compounds the fear communities are experiencing.
“With no plans to reopen any stations this year and with Garda numbers below pre-recession levels, local Fine Gael TDs need to come clean on their plans to tackle rural crime and to protect local communities. They say to keep the recovery going but rural policing cannot be dependent on economic scale or population numbers. They have shown that when it was most needed, rural policing was scaled back and undermined. There needs to be a commitment to re-open Garda stations and to bring Garda levels back to pre-crisis levels.”