Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has strongly criticised the Government for failing to address growing incidents of crime.
Deputy Aylward made the comments following the revelation that the Government saved just over €500,000 from the closure of 139 Garda stations across the country.
“The fact that the Government has made a negligible saving as a result of the closure of Garda stations is the clearest sign yet that their strategy for dealing with crime is in disarray,” said Deputy Aylward.
“Fianna Fáil pointed out time and time again that dismantling the network of Garda stations across the country would only lead to an explosion in crime. Unfortunately Fine Gael and Labour didn’t take on board the serious concerns that people had regarding the closure of Garda stations. Now we are paying for that short-sighted decision as burglars are taking advantage of the lack of Garda presence in communities, especially in rural Ireland.
“I’m not surprised at all that the closure of the Garda stations in communities such as Inistioge, Johnstown and Ballyragget has led to increased crime. It is common sense that if you close down the centre of police activity in a community then people will take advantage of this. The question has to be asked, why did the Fine Gael and Labour insist on the closure of these stations when they knew it would lead to nothing but negligible saving?
“Towns across the country feel increasingly isolated and more vulnerable to criminals. The closure of rural garda stations in some cases accelerated the decline of communities as the private sector took its lead from the government’s decision to withdraw state services. We have seen Garda stations, post offices, banks, court houses, libraries and many more centres of community activity close down under this Government. Fine Gael and Labour have little regard for rural Ireland.
“Fianna Fáil believes the strength of the Garda force has fallen to a dangerously low level and with more Gardai retiring every year we need to ramp-up recruitment. This has not been a priority for the government. The number of Gardai the Government is planning to recruit will barely cover the number of annual retirements. It’s time Fine Gael and Labour took on board the concerns that communities in Kilkenny have regarding crime. We need to ensure the Gardai are adequately resourced so that they can do their job,” said Deputy Aylward.