Fianna Fáil has made an official complaint to the Ceann Comhairle about the Justice Minister’s refusal to answer Parliamentary Questions regarding the strength of the garda force.
Over the course of the past 5 months, the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has submitted questions requesting a breakdown of garda numbers on a county and station basis. Each time, Minister Fitzgerald has admitted she is in possession of the information and has promised to forward it to Deputy Collins. But despite repeated requests, this information has yet to leave her office.
Deputy Collins explained, “After 5 months of trying to get basic information about the strength of our garda force in each area of the country, I am now left with no choice but to go around the Minister and complain to the Ceann Comhairle. Minister Fitzgerald has this information on her desk. She is putting politics before the public interest by keeping it to herself.
“At a time when concern about crime in the community is at an all-time high and the gardaí are stretched beyond their limits, it is in the public interest that we know how many gardaí are looking after each community. I have requested this information because I have serious concerns that there are areas of the country with dangerous gaps in garda resources. If it is a case that the Minister is happy with the garda strength in each division, then she should have no qualms in publishing the information.
“People will be wondering, what is the Minister afraid of? Her predecessor, Alan Shatter, had no problem answering my Parliamentary Questions about the exact same issue. Minister Fitzgerald has repeatedly attempted to dismiss my concerns in the Dáil about garda numbers dropping to dangerously low levels. If it is a case that there are no dangerous gaps force, why is the Minister intent on keeping the information a secret?
“This is an attempt by Minister Fitzgerald to frustrate democracy and hide information from the public. I have been left with no choice but to make an official complaint to the Ceann Comhairle. I have asked him to ensure that the Minister does her job and answers these very important questions.”