Stronger policing supports needed for rural communities - Kathleen Funchion TD
Speaking this evening during a Dáil debate on the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report on Community Policing and Rural Crime, Sinn Féin TD for Carlow/Kilkenny Kathleen Funchion has said that it was no secret that rural crime was on the rise and that people deserve to feel safe in their communities regardless of living in an urban or rural area.
Deputy Funchion said;
"Rural communities have been particularly hit by cuts where an even further reduction of Garda visibility has increased certain types of crime.
"Theft of Farm Equipment has risen by 40% in recent times, while incidence of robbery is up 22% on 2017 in most recent figures.
"A huge issue is repeated crimes, where certain individuals or houses are targeted repeatedly. That is a clear indication that the perpetrators of these crimes feel little fear of being caught.
"Most Garda Stations are either at, or below the level they were at in 2014. Community Gardaí under Fine Gael led Governments have fallen by 35% since 2010. People are being left feeling isolated, older people are particularly vulnerable.
"The report debated today calls for the reopening of many rural Garda stations and where stations cannot be reopened, and consideration for having more Gardaí on patrol in rural areas and/or available at certain times in other public buildings such as community centres. It also recommends greater support for roll-out of community CCTV schemes.
"We in Sinn Féin have raised these points on many occasions and fully support these recommendations.
"Tackling the issues immediate effects related to ongoing crime within our rural communities are obviously going to take priority. There must be increased investment into policing in order to tackle large scale crime.
"We must also get to the bottom of what is often at the root of so many choosing to go down that path and how we can influence in the future.
"When speaking of rural crime we must also address how we invest in our younger people. What kind of opportunities are we providing them; what alternatives are we giving them?
"Youth Diversion Programmes can be incredibly powerful and successful, but they must be staffed and resourced properly.
"In this whole conversation about the need for increased community policing, investment in young people and addressing the challenges they face must form part of the discussion about how do we tackle crime. Prevention is better than cure.”