Two developments over the last 48 hours point to complete incoherence in Fine Gael’s crime policy, according to Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins TD.

On Sunday, the media revealed that Alan Shatter’s plan to close an additional 100 Garda stations is to be brought forward, with all stations to be shut down before the end of January. On Monday, his party colleague and joint policing committee Chair Padraig Conneely told his committee that homeowners would be correct to shoot intruders.

Deputy Collins commented, “People in vulnerable communities across this country are worried for their safety. Many categories of crime are soaring and householders are looking to the Government for reassurance.

“Unfortunately, when they look at Alan Shatter, they see a politician who has been transformed from the tough talking law and order opposition spokesman into a Minister committed to dismantling the national network of Garda stations, and the first Justice Minister in the history of the State who refuses to take responsibility for Garda numbers. This weekend, we learned that the additional 100 stations he has earmarked for closure are to be shut by the end of the month, with no information on what alternative arrangements are being put in place.

“This morning, when they look to Fine Gael, they also see a prominent representative and joint policing committee chair take to the national airwaves to tell people that they are correct to be afraid, that they would be correct to shoot intruders and that if he were faced with a burglar in his home, he would take an iron bar to their head.

“What these two examples show is that the Fine Gael policy on crime has disintegrated into a mess of hypocrisy, contradiction and bluff. If Cllr Conneely had genuine concerns about lawlessness in vulnerable communities, he would take those concerns to the man responsible for downgrading our community safety infrastructure. If Minister Shatter had any interest in responding to the growing threat facing householders, he would protect policing and call a halt to station closures.

“Instead, we see Fine Gael try to have it both ways – talk tough but cut Garda resources; sabre rattle about confronting burglars, but refuse to provide the resources needed to stop them in the first place.

“Alan Shatter needs to address the growing crisis of confidence in public safety across this country. The Minister also needs to state clearly whether he stands by the comments of his party colleague.”