'The gardaí lack basic resources' - Micheál Martin says there is growing lawlessness in the country

There is a growing sense that the Government is losing the battle against crime, Micheál Martin said.

'The gardaí lack basic resources' - Micheál Martin says there is growing lawlessness in the country

There is a growing lawlessness that this is openly tolerated, and that there is a lack of enforcement and cut-through to stop this kind of behaviour from increasing, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, during Leaders' Questions, asked whether the Government acknowledges the growing sense of anxiety and concern among people with regard to increasing crime, antisocial behaviour, and the growing and open illicit drug culture on our streets.

Addressing his questions to Business Minister Heather Humphreys, deputising for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who is in Zagreb, Mr Martin said across the country, there is a growing sense that the Government is losing the battle against crime.

“People now regularly complain of the lack of gardaí on our streets, the easy tolerance of drug abuse, the open selling of drugs including transactions on our streets and public transport system, and people injecting drugs on our streets,” he said.

“People also complain about the growth in anti-social behaviour on our streets and in our parks. The gardaí lack basic resources such as technology, equipment, and cars to deal with all of this,” he added.

In response, Ms Humphreys said ministers are concerned about criminals being brought to justice.

“I am glad that good progress has been made on the Kevin Lunney case through a joint operation of the PSNI and An Garda Síochána. I am pleased that good progress has been made in that regard,” she said.

The Government is absolutely committed to combatting and fighting crime.

In that respect, we have increased resources to An Garda Síochána. Some €1.76bn has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019. This will increase to an unprecedented €1.882bn for 2020. Very significant capital investment is also being made,” she insisted.

Mr Martin also accused the Government of turning the signing of a major broadband contract into a "nakedly political" by-election PR stunt.

The Fianna Fáil leader said the launch event for the National Broadband Plan at a school in Co Wicklow blurred the line between official government business and political campaigning.

The €3bn project will roll out high-speed broadband to more than half a million premises throughout the country.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Communications Minister Richard Bruton joined representatives from National Broadband Ireland, the consortium that will deliver the rollout, at the event at a school in Laragh on Tuesday. Government officials also attended.

The contract signing came ahead of a series of by-elections at the end of the month.

Addressing the Dáil, Mr Martin criticised the launch.

"It was turned into a nakedly political by-election event in Co Wicklow attended by Fine Gael non-office holders, Fine Gael candidates, Fine Gael councillors," he said.

"The one Fianna Fail TD (Pat Casey) who was there was not invited, it was his former school, he found his way there.

"You guys organised a Fine Gael event. This is serious.

"What this represents is a blurring of office holding, of government activity with party political campaigning, it should not happen."

Mr Bruton defended the event and its attendees.

"Every step in this we have been meticulous in ensuring the public interest would be protected and it was natural that at this signing of such an important contract we would have senior officials present who were involved in the development of this," he told the Dáil.

Mr Bruton said the plan was a "very significant project" for rural Ireland.

- Additional reporting David Young, Press Association

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