Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has expressed disappointment with the Justice Minister after he failed to make firm commitments to assign additional Garda personnel to the border region.
Deputy Brendan Smith had called for additional personnel and resources for the Cavan-Monaghan division in light of a series of high profile burglaries across the two counties, as well as to provide extra support to officers on the ground to deal with the fallout from Brexit.
“The latest figures provided by Minister Charlie Flanagan reveal there are now 344 Gardaí working across the Cavan-Monaghan division, which is still well below the 391 assigned to the region in 2010. While there have been marginal increases in personnel numbers since 2015, the force facing significant staffing issues in the area”, explained Deputy Brendan Smith.
“There have been a number of high profile burglaries in Cavan over recent months. There were two particularly violent incidents in Ballyjamesduff in April, which saw two elderly people threatened by thieves who went on to steal cash and jewellery. The brutal nature of these crimes has increased fear levels among the local community, and particularly older people living there. What’s worse is that these crimes are not stand alone. They are happening right across the two counties.
“One of the biggest issues facing Gardaí working in the division is the large geographic area that they have to cover. The closure of rural Garda stations has had a huge impact on the ability of officers to get to an incident quickly. Many now have to travel long distances from urban stations.
“I am also concerned by what appears to be a lack of planning for additional resources for the border region to cope with the impact of Brexit. We are now less than a year away from the British withdrawal from the EU and there appears to be no definitive plan to assign additional Gardaí to the district. The Cavan district alone has 80 km of a border with County Fermanagh. There are around 21 official crossings and there are unofficial crossings as well. This will have a major impact on policing in the region.
“While Minister Flanagan has outlined his plans for a national force of 21,000 personnel by 2021, I am concerned about a lack of specifics for the border region. We cannot become complacent about the importance of a strong Garda presence, especially in the context of Brexit, and I will be continuing to press the Minister on his plan for the division”.