Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers has raised concerns about Garda levels across the country, given the force’s dependence on overtime.  The issue was thrown into the spotlight this week, when it emerged that there were serious issues with the Garda overtime budget in Dublin, and there were fears that overtime across the capital would be cancelled.

Deputy Chambers explained, “While this situation may have been confined to Dublin, it highlight’s the Garda forces overdependence on overtime to cover essential services.  Instead of relying on the same officers to take on additional shifts, we should be speeding up the recruitment process and ensuring that Gardaí are sent to areas where they are most needed.

“The closure of rural Garda stations has led to a major fall off in the number of Gardaí assigned to rural areas.  It is therefore no surprise that we have seen a spike in crime, particularly in farm and machinery yards.   In recent months we have seen an epidemic of burglaries and break-ins with machinery, equipment and diesel stolen.  Many farmers are choosing not to report these crimes for fear of their insurance premiums increasing.

“The presence of local Gardaí cannot be underestimated, not only does it provide a sense of security in communities, it also acts as a deterrent to criminals.  However, this Government has ignored the seriousness of the issue and the issues flagged by the Garda Representative Association today demonstrated just how reliant the State is on overtime.  This should not be the case.

“We need to see additional resources, including the reopening of rural Garda stations and extra Gardaí, allocated to ensure our communities are properly protected.  This, coupled with more CCTV for rural areas, will help clamp down on rising crime rates”.