Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Seamus Kirk has received new information which shows that Garda numbers in the county have fallen significantly under Fine Gael and Labour.

The information was contained in a recent parliamentary reply from Minister for Justice Francis Fitzgerald. The Minister confirmed that there are 35 fewer Gardai in the Louth Garda Division as compared to 2015.

Deputy Kirk commented, “The Government launched ‘Operation Thor’ to much fanfare last month with the aim of tackling the roaming gangs that are targeting our communities. The launch of the Garda operation was the first acknowledgment by Fine Gael and Labour that they have let crime spiral out of control in many parts of rural Ireland.

“When Minister Fitzgerald launched the operation she said that there had been significant investment in Garda resources. However the up to date information that I have received from the Department of Justice shows that the Gardai are still significantly under-resourced here in Louth. In October 2010 there were 316 Gardai in Louth but in October 2015 this figure had dropped to 281 Gardai.

“It’s no surprise that crime has been on the increase in many parts of Louth when you consider there are 35 fewer Gardai operating in our communities. It’s well acknowledged that the best way to tackle opportunistic criminals is to have Gardai on the ground operating at the heart of our communities. However the Government have allowed numbers to fall significantly which is having an impact on the operational capacity of the Garda force.

“I welcomed the launch of ‘Operation Thor’ and pointed out that any operation to protect our communities in Louth from roaming gangs must be supported. However I pointed out at the time my suspicion that the Government was merely using the operation as a cheap publicity stunt in the run up to the General Election. These latest figures have confirmed my suspicions.

“What Louth needs is serious investment in our police force to allow them carry out their job effectively. The Government says it is ramping up Garda recruitment, but the reality is the number they are taking on will barely cover the number of officers that are due to retire. We also need significant investment in the Garda fleet and further computerisation of the force to help get more Gardai out on the beat,” said Deputy Kirk.