Cutbacks in rural Garda resources ‘appalling’

A father-of-four whose family were threatened at gunpoint by four masked men has described the lack of Garda resources in parts of rural Co Limerick as "appalling".

Speaking after two men received five- and seven- year jail sentences for the aggravated burglary at his home, Gerry Garvey said he is hopeful of further prosecutions.

Mr Garvey, his wife Anne, and their four children were subjected to a terrifying ordeal when a masked gang armed with a sawn-off shot gun, baseball bat, and sledge hammer, burst through the patio doors of their home at Sunville House, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick, on April 16, 2012.

The 54-year-old was handcuffed by the gang who threatened to blow his head off and kill his children.

Speaking on Live 95FM, Mr Garvey said he received fantastic support from the gardaí.

However, he said there needs to be a review of how money is spent in the justice system, insisting that gardaí are operating “under very constrained resources all the time”.

“I know in our own particular area, for example, there are two or three Garda stations which share one patrol car between them.

“I mean in fairness in the 21st century that seems absolutely appalling.

“It kind of frightens me when you look at the scale of things that they can’t give resources to preventive measures like having sufficient gardaí on duty on the beat and driving around in patrol cars in the smaller areas and manning the small stations.

“Yet when it comes to a major crime like this or other similar crimes, there doesn’t seem to be any difficulty in providing the finances for free legal aid and for prisons.

“I think, a little bit like our health system, we’ve gone a little bit backwards. If there was more effort put into prevention, less effort might be needed for the prosecution and the follow-up, so certainly there aren’t anywhere near enough resources given to local policing and I mean, you know, all crime is local,” he continued.

John Cahill, aged 30, of Hillview Grove, Doon and Christopher Stokes, aged 42, of St Anthony’s Park, Knocknaheeny, Cork, both pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit court to a charge of aggravated burglary. Stokes also admitted falsely imprisoning Mr Garvey.

Judge Carroll Moran jailed Stokes for seven years.

Cahill, who was the getaway driver and didn’t enter the house, was given a five-year sentence.

When asked about the impact of the robbery on his family, Mr Garvey said that their lives have changed dramatically.

“For 15 years odd, we have lived in Pallasgreen — a beautiful little village with great neighbours and friends around. We never locked a gate, during the daytime we never locked doors, it was only at night time we would lock up the place for safety,” he said.

“That kind of changed dramatically — not just for us but I’ve heard many stories from neighbours and friends living for miles around, they were almost deeply as frightened as us when they heard what happened because they kind of thought are we next?”

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