Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins TD has described the revelations regarding Alan Shatter’s new national policing strategy as ‘a complete betrayal of people in vulnerable communities across the country.’ He also dismissed suggestions of replacement Garda ‘clinics’ and new social media gimmicks as having more to do with the Minister’s PR strategy than a credible security strategy.
Deputy Collins commented, “The full scale of Alan Shatter’s cynicism is now coming into clear focus. The Minister who successfully styled himself as the guardian of Garda services in order to achieve power, is emerging as the Minister for Justice with the most destructive impact on Garda services in the history of the state.
“A security network that was built up over generations, to protect and serve the most vulnerable communities across the country, is being dismantled in a period of months by the man who hysterically condemned relatively modest cuts by the last Government and promised more Gardaí, more investment, more training.
“The way in which this news was broken is further evidence of the Minister’s cynicism. Instead of a clear and honest statement about an additional 80 station closures where he can be questioned and examined, we see a leaked briefing with the devastating news of mass closures dressed up in meaningless PR claims about Garda ‘clinics’ in the local youth club.
“In a further insult to people’s intelligence, communities facing closure are told not to worry – the Minster is asking the Gardaí to look at greater use of social media. Telling an isolated pensioner who’s deeply and genuinely concerned about her local station closing to ‘tweet the Gardaí’ or to ‘Find them on Facebook’ will give very cold comfort indeed. Social media can play a useful role in community alert schemes, but it is not a substitute for proper local Garda services.
Collins continued, “The Minister’s response to a real financial challenge is short term and short sighted. I know from contact with Gardaí across the country that the costs associated with maintaining many of the stations he proposes to close are minimal. When contrasted with the sense of security they provide residents and the sense of community they represent, it is clearly money well spent. When a station is closed and disposed of, the small financial gain lasts for a year, but the station is gone forever.”
Note to Editor:
· In December 2010 Alan Shatter said: “We presently have 14,500 members of An Garda Síochána and it is of crucial importance that the number be maintained”. (Dec 7th 2010) He said that a reduction would “obstruct the battle against crime” and that it would see “drug gangs and their leaders” drink “a celebratory toast to thank Dermot Ahern.”