Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has called on the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to immediately clarify reports that he plans to slash an additional 1,000 garda personal from the force this year.

Deputy Collins described the reports in today’s Irish Independent as ‘extremely worrying’ at a time of increased crime levels in communities across the country.

“Minister Shatter is single-handedly dismantling a garda force that took generations to build,” Deputy Collins said. 

“It seems it is not enough for him to shut down an additional 100 garda stations this year and refuse to lift the ban on recruitment at a time of dwindling garda numbers, now the Minister wants to cut an extra 1,000 personnel this year.  This is a drain of ability and experience and if it goes ahead, it would bring garda numbers to the lowest level in a decade.

“People will find it shocking that this is the Minister’s response to increased rates of burglaries, thefts and retail crime in communities across the country, as well as fears of an escalation in gangland crime and dissident activity.   People also struggle to understand how Minister Shatter can justify recruiting hundreds of extra personnel in the Defence Forces while he waters down An Garda Síochána, allowing garda numbers to fall to dangerously low levels.

“I have been concerned for some time about Minister Shatter’s refusal under repeated questioning to commit to maintaining a basic level of personnel in An Garda Síochána. These latest revelations are further evidence that Alan Shatter has gone from being the law and order opposition spokesperson to a deeply destructive Minister for Justice who the GRA have already described as being ‘soft on crime’. 

“Minister Shatter cannot dodge this issue any longer.  Today’s reports will add to the fear and anxiety felt in many communities at this time, and the Minister must immediately clarify his intentions.”