There are almost 115 fewer gardaí across the three Cork divisions today than five years ago, figures show.
Cork West division has been hardest hit, with a 15% cut in its staffing levels — in large part due to closures of rural stations after 2011.
Garda representatives said reduced garda numbers meant a “greater workload” for remaining members and reduced garda visibility.
Figures on total garda strength in Cork, provided by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in response to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin show:
Mr Martin told the Irish Examiner the Government had spent the past three years denying that gardaí were under-resourced.
“We heard talk of ‘smart policing’ and community alert programmes, which we were told would make up for the closure of more than 130 garda stations. However, the model has failed,” he said.
“The dismantling of our garda network is having a major impact on communities across Cork City and county, and right across the country.
“In turn, people in these communities, particularly those who are elderly or living on their own, are worried about increasing crime rates.”
Mr Martin s said the Government needed to wake up to the crisis “now on its doorstep” and that a significant increase in garda numbers was needed, backed up by the necessary resources.
Mick Corcoran of the Garda Representative Association said: “I believe when all the stations were closed in Cork West, a lot of members in outlying stations were nearing pensionable age and instead of commuting long distances to their new station, they decided to retire. That’s why it was so badly hit.”
He said the impact of cuts had been severe: “The workload is greater and very shortly we will have 250 members taken out countrywide through promotion [from garda rank to sergeant] and 15-20 of those will be in Cork. They will be taken off the regular units.”
He said between that and the new garda water-charge protest units that were set up, the ability to police the city centre had been “absolutely decimated”: “We are barely able to put a patrol car out,” he said. “In the boom, we had a patrol car and a personnel carrier at least. We had high police visibility. We don’t have that now.”
Mr Corcoran said Cork city got 10 recruits in the last 18 months: “That’s not even coming close to ending the haemorrhage from retirements, and promotions.”
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