Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has accused the Government of attempting to fool the public into believing it is significantly increasing resources for An Garda Síochána.
Deputy Collins made the comments after Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald signalled that the force is set to receive new vehicles in the coming months. However Deputy Collins has said the media reports that these vehicles are only being used to replace the existing fleet will be met with huge frustration.
“Fine Gael and Labour seem to be finally waking up to the fact that communities across Ireland are living in fear as a result of a massive surge in crime. The closure of Garda stations, the downsizing of the Garda fleet and the reduction in manpower has had a detrimental impact on the force. The policies pursued by this Government have seriously undermined the ability of the Garda force to tackle crime,” said Deputy Collins.
“Minister Fitzgerald recently re-announced funding for the Garda fleet to much fanfare. She insisted that the force will shortly receive high powered vehicles with the purposes of tackling roaming gangs who are targeting rural areas. However the Minister failed to acknowledge that the force seriously lacks manpower, nor did she highlight that the number of Garda vehicles nationally has fallen since the Government came to power.
“I am concern by media reports that that a mere one in ten of the new Garda vehicles can be classed as ‘high powered’. The vast majority of vehicles are actually family-style cars which are only suitable for day-to-day policing. They will be little use in tackling roaming gangs on our road network as the Minister suggested.
“Fine Gael and Labour have consistently stripped the Gardaí of vital resources. There is no doubt that this has made it harder for Gardaí to do their job. For example they increased the maximum mileage for Garda vehicles from 200,000km to 300,000km. This has forced Garda cars off the road as a result of increased breakdowns. As a result of this we have had the bizarre situation where some victims of crime have had to use their own cars to transport Gardaí to and from their stations.
“In fact, even after these new vehicles have been allocated, the size of the Garda fleet will still be significantly smaller than the number of vehicles available to the force in 2010. An Garda Síochána needs a significant increase in manpower and resources and not more spin from Fine Gael and Labour to hide the fact that they’ve done nothing but undermine community policing for the last four years.”