The party’s justice spokesman Niall Collins said it was a damning indictment on the outgoing Government’s law and order record that the numbers in the force were allowed to dwindle to 12,000.
Speaking in Whitehall, outside a former Garda station and a stone’s throw from the Regency Hotel where last Friday’s murder took place, Mr Collins said he wished to stand in solidarity with the local community. The station was closed alongside 138 others.
He said his party was committed to resourcing the force properly, saying they would commit to establish a specialised anti-crime unit to tackle what he called the shocking and brazen attitude of the murderers.
“As well as employing the Special Criminal Court, Fianna Fáil will set up a new Serious and Organised Crime Unit within An Garda Síochána to lead the fight against criminal networks operating in the country. The unit’s remit will include co-operation with Interpol and other police agencies,” said Mr Collins.
Joined by party candidates Lorraine Clifford-Lee and Paul McAuliffe, Mr Collins criticised the Government’s closure of stations like Whitehall and referred to the hotel manager having to ring 999 three times because of a slow response time.
For more election news, analysis and general banter join us HERE
“It was so shocking but because of the decision to close garda stations like Whitehall, the response time to the incident was inadequate,” said Mr Collins. “We as a party believe that the decision to close garda stations was the wrong call and the local community here have told us they feel the place is under policed. The manager made three 999 calls and it took up to 10 minutes for a response.”
Mr Collins said the outrageous nature of Friday’s murder highlighted the need for the Special Criminal Court, adding that in his view people are “disgusted” at Sinn Féin’s call to abolish it.
Mr Collins said, if in office, he and his party would call on the Garda Inspectorate to make an impact analysis on closed stations: “We would get them to make the assessment as to which ones should be re-opened and we would implement their recommendation in office.”
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has committed to catching those responsible for Friday’s murder.