Hard choices - Falling garda numbers

EVERY State agency has faced debilitating, unwelcome cutbacks over recent years. Nearly every arm of Government has, despite calls to do more with less, seen a change in the service levels it is able to offer to the public.

This reality is seen at its sharpest in communities who feel they are more exposed to highly mobile criminal gangs because the countrywide network of garda stations and manpower has been greatly reduced.

Figures, released as part of an answer to a Dáil question, show that there are are almost 115 fewer gardaí across the three Cork divisions than there were five years ago. This is, no matter how it is couched, a significant reduction in resources and capabilities and probably reflects the situation right across the country. Despite this shortfall we demand ever lower taxes and public sector wage increases. We cannot have it every way — either we pay for a properly staffed police force or suffer the consequences. It may be time too to review the retirement regime enjoyed by gardaí, one that has absolutely no parallel anywhere else in society.

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