The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has emerged as a major threat to community policing and An Garda Síochána, according to Fianna Fáil’s Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins.
Deputy Collins has expressed alarm at reports that numbers in the force will be reduced by 1,400 this year – the lowest level in more than a decade.
“The political decisions made by Alan Shatter will bring the garda force a decade back in time and put communities across the country directly at risk,” said Deputy Collins.
“The Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan last year stressed the need to maintain the force at a minimum of 13,000 in the interest of public safety.  But Minister Shatter still went ahead and slashed the garda payroll by €35 million, forcing garda management to look at reducing numbers in the force by over 1,400 this year.
“This is alarming.  Such drastic reductions in such a short period of time will throw the force into disarray and reduce community policing to dangerously low levels. Equally alarming is Minister Shatter’s dismissive approach to all of this.  People are genuinely baffled at what happened to the tough-talking law and order opposition spokesperson.  He has turned into a highly destructive Minister, pursing dangerous policies that fly in the face of the public interest.
“I am calling for a special meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice at the earliest possible opportunity to bring urgent clarity to what is an issue of national importance. We need to hear from the Justice Minister and the Garda Commissioner once and for all what basic staffing levels will be maintained in An Garda Síochána this year and in the lifetime of this Government.”