Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has condemned last night’s shooting in County Louth and says he is concerned by escalating serious crime, particularly in the border region.

Speaking during a visit to Co Louth this morning Deputy Collins said local gardaí need more support and resources to meet the threat posed by criminal gangs.

In Drogheda this morning Deputy Collins commented: “Last night’s shooting is another reminder of the need for a strong garda presence in our communities which I believe is being undermined by the Government at the moment.  Just last week we saw the seizure of €1.3m worth of cannabis in Termonfeckin, which of course the gardai here are to be congratulated on, but last night’s shooting coming so soon after the seizure highlights the need for more support for local garda divisions, not less.

“Policing in the border region faces particular challenges and the North East has seen worrying levels of serious crime and gang activity over the past year. I am concerned that garda resources are being stripped from communities in this region, and the closure of rural garda stations and cuts to community garda resources are putting local gardaí under huge strain.  While the latest official crime figures show a decrease in some of the very serious crime headings, this is not playing out on the ground in many communities and there are worrying statistics that can’t be ignored.  Aggravated burglaries where violence was used by criminals increased by over 3% in the three months to June while there was a shocking 33% increase in muggings and theft from persons.

“These crimes raise a lot of concerns in communities, including here is Louth, because of the huge impact they have on the victims.  The fear of violent burglaries, of gang activity and drugs is very prevalent in border regions in particular. Now is not the time to dismantle community garda resources – it’s the time to support local gardaí and invest in community safety.”