Meath West General Election candidate Cllr Shane Cassells has criticised the Government for allocating only 5 new Garda recruits to County Meath.

Councillor Cassells said, “The latest figures made available to Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins shows there were 278 gardaí attached to Meath in February this year, down from 314 in April 2010. The loss of 36 gardaí to police our communities cannot be undone with an additional 5 garda recruits.

“It is extremely important that Garda recruitment and the training of new officers is continuing but I think the Government needs to ramp up its efforts in this regard. The strength of the garda force nationally is now around 12,500 and there are a further 1,498 officers eligible to retire this year. This would leave the force at a seriously diminished level.

“I think many people in Meath will be at a total loss to understand why it took this Government until late last year to recognise the need for more recruitment and to finally take action.

“Under Fine Gael and Labour we have seen crime rates rise while Garda resources have been consistently cut year on year. Many people recognise the urgent need to get more gardaí into our communities; however the level of Garda recruitment undertaken by the Government to date will barely cover the number of officers retiring from the force each year.

“News emerged this week that we in Meath are only to receive 5 new recruits from Templemore. This is hugely disappointing and a cause for real concern. It will be impossible for the gardaí to retain a robust community policing model so long as they are starved of resources and manpower.

“Fianna Fáil’s priority is to restore the strength of the Garda force to 14,000. I do not believe we can have an appropriate and safe domestic policing and security strategy in place for all our communities for Meath and around the country without restoring garda numbers to this critical level.

“This Government needs to wake-up to the looming crisis further Garda retirements will have on the force and up the numbers in recruitment and training as a matter of urgency.”