Councillors blame crime wave on reduction in garda force

A DRASTIC reduction in the number of gardaí in the west Waterford region has left the area vulnerable to a spate of crime.

Angry councillors made this claim at a meeting of Lismore Town Council in the wake of a series of recent robberies throughout the region, including an armed raid on the Lismore branch of the Bank of Ireland in which a three-man gang stole 70,000.

There have also been break-ins at a hotel, pub, grocery shop, guesthouse, and a number of private homes when valuable jewellery, cash, antiques, and other property was stolen.

Lismore town councillor Peter Ahearne yesterday said: “people in this region are both angry and concerned about the deteriorating law and order situation, and the public meeting highlighted that.”

There was criticism of the Government’s failure to deliver on a general election promise last year to appoint 2,000 additional gardaí, while west Waterford has seen garda numbers plummet over the years. Cllr Ahearne said the situation has deteriorated to the point where many elderly people now don’t know whether they should answer a knock on their front doors.

“The last three weeks in the region have seen an unprecedented wave of criminality, it has got to be brought to a halt,” he said.

The town councillors have now finalised arrangements to meet with the garda chief for the region, Dungarvan-based Garda Superintendent Michael Blake, tomorrow night to put their concerns directly to him.

Over the past 20 years, there has been a significant reduction in garda numbers in the Lismore and Tallow stations.

In 1983, they were four sergeants and 10 gardaí operating in the neighbouring towns, but there are now only two sergeants and eight gardaí.

The latter figure has also been affected recently however, as one sergeant and one garda have been off duty for some time.

“This is an intolerable situation, and one that needs to be urgently and immediately addressed,” said Cllr Ahearne.

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