Rural areas are to be left without garda patrols as the Government fails to replace marked cars that are decommissioned, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Timmy Dooley. Figures obtained by Deputy Dooley reveal that large numbers of marked patrol cars that have been decommissioned after reaching their mileage limit have not been replaced. More patrol cars are due to be taken off the road shortly and there is no commitment to replace them.
Deputy Dooley commented, “This is a dangerous situation. I have become aware of significant reductions in the number of marked patrol cars in rural areas. This puts communities that are already isolated at further risk of increased crime.
“For instance in Co Clare, 8 marked patrol cars for uniform gardaí have been decommissioned and not replaced. This leaves 13 marked garda cars patrolling the entire county. Of those, a further 9 have already clocked up between 250,000 and 293,000 kilometres so they are now also on the brink of being decommissioned.
“All of this means the Gardaí will not be able to respond to emergency call-outs in a timely manner. It adds to the fear of many families and older people who are already concerned about the risk of crime in their communities. The visual nature of rural policing is particularly important. People feel safer knowing that gardaí are available to patrol their area and a visible garda presence dramatically reduces criminal activity. It is a fact that in East and Southeast Clare, gardaí on routine patrols have apprehended a significant number of individuals from Limerick city linked to organised crime. With a reduced number of patrol cars, the capacity for effective policing is reduced.
“This is another example of rural Ireland bearing the brunt of Fine Gael and Labour’s budget cutbacks. It raises more concerns about Minister Alan Shatter’s commitment to rural policing. He has already moved to shut down a number of rural garda stations across the country and reduce Garda numbers in smaller communities.
“This issue must be addressed immediately. While I accept the need to cut public spending, reducing the Garda presence in our communities is a retrograde step. I am calling on Minister Shatter to address the matter urgently. He must ensure the necessary resources are provided to retain the current level of marked patrol cars in operation in each community.”