Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher is warning that border communities will face an increase risk as a result of Brexit unless the government begins to put proper contingency plans in place. He was speaking following a meeting with members of the Garda Representative Association.
Senator Gallagher explained, “Last week I along with Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan met with members to discuss their concerns around staffing levels, particularly in border counties. Despite the increased threat posed by Brexit and the possibility of a hard border, more than 40% of Garda stations within a ten mile radius of the border have closed in recent years.
“The government’s approach of ignoring the possibility of a hard Brexit and the implications of that for the border region is short sighted, particularly in terms of policing. It has made commitments to recruit additional customs officers and veterinary officials but not in terms of additional Gardaí.
“The fact of the matter is that there are not sufficient Gardaí assigned to border counties to cope with the current workload, never mind the additional challenges that could be brought about by Brexit. The PSNI has announced the recruitment of 400 officers specifically for Brexit. There are 169 border crossings in Cavan-Monaghan Division alone, yet the government is adopting a wait and see approach. This is incredibly worrying.
“Fianna Fáil Budget negotiators raised this specific issue repeatedly over the past number of weeks but the government refused to include plans to recruit additional Gardaí for the border area as it claimed there would be no border.
“Similarly our Brexit Spokesperson Lisa Chambers raised it Minister Charlie Flanagan and was told that it was “this Government’s firm intention that the same border arrangements as currently apply on the island of Ireland will continue into the future”. While this is what we all hope for, the government should be planning for all eventualities including Garda provision.”