In view of increasing serious crime — murders, robbery with violence, stabbings and shootings — there is an urgent and pressing need for the Government to appoint a minister with special responsibilities for crime prevention.
There is little point in successive justice ministers offering loud commitments to reduce the spiralling crime rate when they accede to the continuing erosion of garda manpower levels, with retirement comprehensively outstripping recruitment.
And, with the situation already approaching crisis point, in some urban areas, the next 12 months can only bring a further deterioration of this serious problem.
People have a right to feel safe in their homes, our elderly need the protection and reassurance that a more obvious garda presence can give them.
This used to be a country where women and children, the old, the weak and the vulnerable went wherever they wished by day and by night.
Now they are afraid to venture into the streets at any time — what has happened?
One reason must be the collapse of family authority; some parents do not bother to find out what their youngsters are up to, and feel no shame or regret when they turn to violence and violent crime.
Our urgent concern is how to curb it now and how to protect our old folk.
The Government must move with speed to change this trend and restore Garda manpower, to a more acceptable level with gardaí seen patrolling our streets day and night. This is why the appointment of minister for crime prevention must receive serious consideration.
I have great respect for the present minister for justice but with violent crime, sadly, on the increase, he needs a helping hand.
Gardaí often come in for criticism — a lot of it unjustified — over soaring crime rates, particularly public order offences.
They are on the frontline of alcohol and drug-fuelled thuggery every night of the week. And as they struggle to contain street fights, drug use and reckless motorists, they are criticised for not doing enough to tackle “serious crime”.
Until the powers-that-be take positive action to not alone maintain the level of gardaí but significantly increase it, and in addition, to appoint a minister for crime prevention, there will be no downward trend in the crime rate.
Cllr Noel Collins
- These readers opinions were originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 27 January 2020.