Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Offaly Barry Cowen TD says his party is prepared to take immediate and bold action to tackle the growing crime wave hitting rural Ireland.
Deputy Cowen says Fianna Fáil will put in place a seven point plan which will seek to address the crime epidemic in rural Ireland and ensure communities can live in security and without fear.
“It’s now widely acknowledged that there has been a dramatic increase in crime in rural areas. Despite this Fine Gael and Labour have failed to take action to empower our Gardai to tackle the criminals who are wreaking havoc on communities,” said Deputy Cowen.
“In fact the Government has made it easier for criminal gangs to target rural Ireland. There were 332 Gardai based in Offaly in 2012 but as of February 2015 this figure had fallen by 58 to 274. The Government have closed 140 local Garda stations across the country and have drained vital resources from our police force. It is clear Fine Gael and Labour are not serious about tackling crime.
“Fianna Fáil has made the fight against crime a top priority. We are proposing a series of policy initiatives which will strengthen the Gardai while making it tougher for criminal gangs to target rural communities. We are committed to strengthening the Garda force to 14,000 and introducing tougher sentencing for those who are convicted of burglary offences.
“It has been widely acknowledged that criminal gangs are using the motorway network to carry out burglaries. Fine Gael and Labour have aided them by cutting the number of high powered Garda vehicles capable of pursuing criminals. To combat this problem we will install CCTV cameras on motorway exits to detect criminal activity alongside allocating more high powered vehicles to the Garda force.
“Fianna Fáil will establish a Neighbourhood Watch Directorate to centrally support and drive community neighbourhood watch programmes. We will also enact legislation which introduces longer sentences for those that assault elderly persons in our communities.
“It is important that the Gardai are adequately equipped to tackle crime in the 21st century. We are proposing a significant investment programme in the technology Gardai currently use to allow for smarter and more effective policing in our rural communities. Fianna Fáil is serious about tackling rural crime, it’s time for Fine Gael and Labour to follow suit.”