Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil reveal a dramatic reduction in garda numbers in divisions across the country over the past 5 years.
The figures were eventually released by the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald this week after 5 months of Parliamentary Questions from the Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins. Minister Fitzgerald finally handed over the information this week after Deputy Collins was forced to make a complaint to the Ceann Comhairle about the Minister’s attempts to frustrate parliamentary procedure.
The figures show that every garda division has seen a cut in garda numbers since the Fine Gael/Labour Government took up office. Dublin has been particularly badly hit, with garda numbers slashed across the board. In the Dublin Metropolitan Region North numbers have been cut form 832 in March 2010 to 678 in January 2015. In DMR South Central numbers are down from 784 to 640 in the same period. Most Dublin Garda Divisions are now operating with 100 less Gardaí than they were five years ago.
The Cavan-Monaghan division has also seen dramatic cuts, from 413 gardaí in March 2010 to just 322 in January this year. This is in addition to the Government’s decision to shut down the only garda drugs unit in Cavan-Monaghan.
Deputy Collins commented, “These figures are proof of the slash and burn of community garda resources undertaken by Fine Gael and Labour since taking up office. It is now abundantly clear why Minister Fitzgerald spent 5 months trying to avoid my attempts to make this information public.
“It is completely unacceptable that our capital city and surrounding area has seen such dramatic cuts to garda numbers. Those living and working in Dublin are seeing an increase in burglaries, petty crime, anti-social behaviour and drug related crime in every single area of the city. Visible drug dealing and related public disorder is plaguing Dublin city centre. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a direct result of garda cuts. The spike in crime levels is not being reflected in the official crime figures as the local gardaí are so stretched beyond their limits that they simply don’t have the manpower or resources to investigate all the incidents in their areas.
“The Government has been attempting to downplay the crime crisis and hide behind official crime figures. I have spent the past three years saying that gaping holes in frontline policing are leading to a spike in crime levels. Over the past number of months, I have held a number of public meetings on crime across the country and every community I visit identifies rising crime levels as a top concern, with far too many people saying they feel more vulnerable than ever in their own homes.
“The Government can no longer dismiss these concerns. These garda figures must act as a wake-up call to Fine Gael and Labour who have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to the safety of our communities. They have taken our police force, which took decades to build, in completely the wrong direction. An Garda Síochána is being undermined and community policing is being dismantled.
“I want to know what Minister Fitzgerald intends to do now to address the gaping holes in our garda force. Hiring 200 additional gardaí is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s needed. I am calling on the Minister to commit to increasing garda levels to 14,000 and maintaining that level.”