More gardaí patrolling the streets of Longford are the only long term solution to the ongoing feud between two factions in the town according to a member of the Garda Representative Association (GRA).
Dave Conroy, the area GRA representative, who is based in nearby Ballymahon, said that armed response units will temporarily halt violence and public order offences, but the only long term solution is to have more uniformed (unarmed) gardaí “on the streets.”
On Wednesday it emerged that armed patrols had commenced in the town on a daily basis to deal with an outbreak of violence and public order offences between feuding local families.
Superintendent Jim Delaney said the move had been taken following 43 incidents of violence, criminal damage and arson in the last 10 weeks in the County Longford garda districts of Longford Town and Granard.
These incidents included four stabbings, two arson attacks and a number of incidents where individuals sustained serious injuries.
Garda Conroy told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that gardaí have not been able to actively engage with the feuding families as they are “operating a fire brigade service, going from call to call.”
The force is operating on a very tight overtime budget and there simply aren’t enough gardaí patrolling the streets, he said.
“The only answer is there need to be guards on the street, in their faces so they can’t behave like that.
“That’s the only long term solution.”
He said that support is regularly brought into Longford from garda stations in Ballymahon and Lanesboro which then left those communities in a vulnerable position.
“The force is trying its hardest. It is just pure numbers.”
Garda Conroy said that he knew some of the individuals involved and his understanding was that they were refusing to engage in mediation. “There are some elements that don’t feel talking is the answer.”
A strong Garda presence is the only answer, he added. The armed unit is a welcome support, but a long term solution is required.