The president of the association which represents the country’s frontline gardaí has accused the Government and Department of Justice of abdicating their responsibility in the fight against crime.
Garda Representative Association (GRA) president John Parker was reacting to a statement from the Department of Justice which said Garda management are “satisfied that a comprehensive policing service continues to be provided throughout the country”. The GRA has said it can’t effectively provide cover for large swathes of rural Ireland because of cuts to manpower and increasing loss of patrol cars which have to be taken off the road when they reach 300,000kms.
The Department of Justice said “the provision and allocation of Garda resources, including transport, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, who is best placed to determine how vehicles should be deployed to meet Garda operational requirements”.
Garda Parker said the Commissioner Martin Callinan had been put in an impossible position because he was given an annual budget through the minister with which he had to make do.
“It’s easy for Minister Alan Shatter to say it’s the Garda Commissioner’s responsibility to manage with he has. But the reality is he who controls the purse strings has control of policing,” Garda Parker said.
The department also said that more than 150 new vehicles were brought into service in 2011 and to date around 40 vehicles have been acquired this year.
In its statement it said Mr Shatter “is, of course, concerned at the increase in certain categories of crime, notably burglaries”.
Garda Parker said that since 2009 gardaí had lost 560 vehicles “which weren’t sitting idly in garages”.
“They were out doing a job, patrolling and preventing crime. It’s time the minister took the gloves off and threw a few blows against crime.
“During a recession every police force in Europe ups the ante to provide for an increase in crime.
“He (the minister) is withdrawing firepower in the fight against crime in this country,” the GRA president said.
The department said Garda management were seeking more replacement patrol cars “in accordance with the commissioner’s operational requirements and the availability of financial resources”.
“This is the catch-all handcuff talking about the availability of financial resources.
“The available resources are not sufficient,” Garda Parker said.
The department said the Garda Commissioner has introduced a wide range of measures as part of a new operation aimed at tackling gangs involved in burglaries.
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