Despite Fine Gael and Labours protestations the truth is communities have felt the serious impact of cutbacks to An Garda Síochána delivered by this government and the last since 2010.
The bottom line is garda resources are an issue with Garda numbers down significantly and 139 garda stations closed for a miserly so called saving of just €500,000. Elderly people and families in rural communities are living in fear and morale in the force is low.
Sinn Féin will recruit an additional 3,000 gardaí bringing numbers in the force back to pre-recession levels.
We want to see the Government’s failed policy of garda station closures reversed, reopening stations where possible and invest where necessary. We will ensure gardaí are adequately skilled to protect and support vulnerable people – including work on child sexual exploitation, vulnerable adults, domestic violence, victims of trafficking and people with mental health issues.
Border counties face particular challenges and we will ensure that An Garda Síochána works in partnership with the PSNI on the new task force to tackle the cross border criminality that plagues communities. We will also empower the Policing Authority to oversee the implementation of recommendations from Garda Inspectorate reports over recent years, in partnership with the management of An Garda Síochána.
Ongoing scandals have bedevilled our justice system and too many citizens have been failed in this regard.
We will strengthen the role of the Policing Authority and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission in the oversight of An Garda Síochána.
Morale within Garda Síochána has been described by many within the force as at an all- time low. The closure of stations, and new roster and pay arrangements, have contributed substantially to the morale problem, and the moratorium on recruitment has meant the loss of substantial expertise through retirements without any comparable recruitment of new talent.
It is essential that the culture within the force changes to one where clear lines of accountability are established, a training and modernisation program is accelerated and the force receives the investment in the systems, equipment and personnel essential for a modern police force to do the job asked of it.
We propose to phase in recommendations outlined in the Garda Inspectorate Report in conjunction with the All Party Justice Committee. This includes taking action to:
• Invest in modern IT systems - phase out the Pulse System;
• Develop new in-service training programs;
• Support a more consistent approach to the recording/classification/detection of crimes;
• Embed more effective accountability structures at every level of management;
• Implement investigation management systems with inbuilt performance measurements;
• Deploy personnel based on crime statistics and demographic changes;
• Introduce wide-scale adoption of a Community Policing model;
• Review the new roster arrangements against crime investigation strategies;
• Introduce a work force planning program aimed at recruitment and upskilling.
The cuts to Garda numbers and stations should be reversed. Emphasis should be placed on investment in community Gardai and the development of a police force accountable and answerable to the local community.
Dealing with the causes of crime means not just investing in more Gardai, it means creating an equal society, where everybody can access decent public services, and is entitled to a decent wage. White collar crime, which costs us at least an estimated €2 billion a year, also needs to be properly investigated and prosecuted.
Tackling crime is a core priority for Fianna Fáil. We will ensure that families and in particular our older people can feel safe in their own homes. We will:
- Increase Gardaí to 15,000
- Boost the Garda Reserve to 2,500
- Expand and retain the Special Criminal Court
- Impose mandatory sentences for burglars and assaults on older people
- Create community courts to deal with low level offences
- Introduce a new Victim’s surcharge to make criminals pay for their crimes
Fine Gael will meet the challenge of crime head on – we are the party of law and order. Every and any resource will be provided to the Garda Siochana to meet the challenge posed by the latest gangland violence, including an immediate €5m for overtime to ensure that there is saturation policing on the streets of the capital A dedicated new Armed Support Unit for Dublin will also be established, comprising 55 Gardai.
Fine Gael’s approach to crime is based on recruiting more Gardai, investing more in vehicles and technology and stronger laws – well will add 1,800 more Gardaí – 600 a year, as well as 1,700 more vehicles by 2021 to ensure visibility and mobility of a dynamic policing force.
We are committed to recruiting an extra 2,000 Gardaí within the next 5 years. We need to support the Gardaí, in terms of resourcing, particularly through the provision of new vehicles and safety equipment
We need to increase the action and effective rates of burglary response units across the country. This issue is both an Urban and a rural issue. This would then lead to an enhancement of the prosecution rates of those involved in these crimes. There are rural families, an hour away from a Garda station, who find it hard to sleep at night- terrified in their own homes. Nobody deserves this.
We need to help these people in particular, by reopening many smaller local branches, to keep people safe and to recreate familiarity between rural people and the authorities.
Recruit 3,500 new Gardaí and release an additional 1,000 Gardaí from frontline duty to ensure priorty is on community policing
Support and resource the new Garda Authority to deliver a transformation in the oversight of policing performance in the State
Establish a Garda Serious and Organised Crime Unit to tackle organised crime, cybercrime, serious fraud and suspicious financial transactions
Support victims of sexual and domestic violence and ensure a more compassionate overall approach to the victims of crime
Bring in greater consistency in sentencing
Reduce the number of short prison sentences for minor crimes in favour of Community Service Orders
One of the biggest examples of a disconnection between the citizens and the state is the shock at the heart of government at the rising importance of crime as a national issue.
Over the last two years it has become increasingly clear this is no country for old people if you are weak and vulnerable and in A&E on a trolley.
And it is certainly no country for old people if you are weak and vulnerable and alone in your home.
A virtual reign of terror is being imposed on people, particularly in rural Ireland and the Justice system has sat on its hands.
RENUA Ireland is determined that the old, the infirm and the vulnerable should be able to live in security and dignity.
Confidence in the capacity of our justice system to deliver these superior rights is at an all time low.
RENUA Ireland is proposing a tougher, no-nonsense ‘Three Strike’ approach to sentences for dangerous criminals to end the feeling of fear and threat that is widespread in rural areas.
This will not on its own end the crime crisis.
But it will send a clear message to our criminal classes that the gloves are off again.
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