A total of 24 newly-trained gardaí are to be drafted into Cork City on a temporary basis in the run-up to the festive season, but Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has been told more needs to be done to bolster permanent garda numbers in the city and county.
The country's most senior garda faced a number of calls for increased manpower from public representatives when he attended a meeting of the Cork City and County JPC (Joint Policing Committee).
It emerged at the meeting that the 24 gardaí are to be sent to Cork City from December 2 – January 2, before they are assigned to other stations around the country.
An additional eight gardaí who have just completed training at the Garda College will shortly arrive in the city where they will be based permanently.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has claimed an additional 125 gardaí are needed in the city to replace frontline members of the force who have retired or been sent to work in specialist units.
Commissioner Harris said that in recent times he had been forced to send gardaí to areas where they were most needed, such as Dublin and Dundalk, where there are ongoing gangland murders.
He attended the meeting to outline his plans for future policing requirements in the country, which will see the creation of new garda divisions, further specialist units and the roll-out of more civilianisation in the force.
The commissioner said this would lead to greater efficiencies and allow him to put more gardaí back into the frontline.
While his plan was broadly welcomed by members of the JPC, a number of them said there was a concern that Cork was being left behind.
“We have a sense the Cork City division is not getting its fair share of resources. I represent Passage West, Carrigaline and Togher. We need resources there, we need boots on the ground,” Cllr Seamus McGrath said.
Deputy Sean Sherlock claimed the new policing plan being introduced by the commissioner was not allaying fears in rural towns and villages in North and East Cork where there was “a perceived loss of service” among the public.
“People need further assurances,” he added.
Deputy Donnchadh ÓLaoghaire said: “There is serious concern Cork not getting enough gardaí. An awful lot more needs to be done.
If we can hold on to some of the 24 we're getting temporarily that would help.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin, who is in charge of policing Cork City, agreed he could always do with more gardaí. However, he denied a recent GRA claim that manpower levels were so bad that on one weekend night earlier this year there were just two gardaí manning a patrol car covering the entire city centre. The GRA said last night it stood over its claim.
Meanwhile, Deputy Aindrias Moynihan expressed concern the commissioner had no timeline for the building of a new garda station in Macroom, which will become a divisional headquarters in an amalgamation of the Cork North and Cork West Garda Divisions.
Commissioner Harris said as the building programme was included in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project with new stations in Clonmel and Sligo he couldn't give a timeline.