I join everyone in the House in sympathising with the family of the late Garda Adrian Donohoe, particularly his wife Caroline and her young son and daughter, and his colleagues in the Garda force. I sympathise also with their friends and comrades and the wider community. Adrian’s loss has been deeply felt across the country in recent days. It will be deeply felt within the Garda force and Adrian’s community for a very long time.
Coming from the part of the country I come from, I know only too well the danger that gardaí must endure, very often on a daily basis. In Donegal in the past three years, two gardaí, Garda Robbie McCallion and Garda Gary McLoughlin, were lost. Only the weekend before last, there was an incident in the county in which a Garda car was rammed while in the process of making an arrest, once again highlighting the dangers that many gardaí must encounter daily. We owe them a great debt of gratitude for that.
As has been rightly pointed out, this motion predated the death of Garda Donohoe. It is based on the fact that crime has been escalating recently. I refer in particular to burglaries, no more so than in my county. From November to January, there were several cases. In November, Phyllis McGee, a 78-year-old lady from Pettigo, was burgled. On 5 January, a 96-year-old from Buncrana, Margaret “Greta” Lilly, was burgled. On 7 and 8 January, a number of homes were ransacked in the Raphoe-Convoy area. On 12 January, Phyllis McGee was again targeted. On 14 January, Eric and Jim Steele of Manorcunningham were targeted, and they, too, were targeted for a second time. On 16 January, John Gallagher, from outside Buncrana, and Bernie Doherty, an elderly lady from Ture, were targeted. The Minister’s response has been grossly inadequate.His response to that since taking on the role of Minister for Justice and Equality bears no resemblance to his performance here on the Opposition benches when he was the Opposition spokesperson. Back then the Minister could not tell the people loudly enough that if they just let him at it the country would be a safer place and how we would do the devil and all. Unfortunately, his performance since then bears no resemblance to the politician he was in opposition, and the same can be said for many of his Cabinet colleagues. If a modern day novelist was to do a retake on the George Orwell classic he or she would not have to create too many fictional characters to put a book together such has been the change in nature of many of the people in the Cabinet from what they were previously.
I ask that the Minister stop draining the resources from the Garda and that he gives its members the equipment and the finances they need to do their job on a daily basis. I ask that instead of describing Border areas in Donegal as not being a special case and burglaries as unfortunate, which is the word he used recently to describe them, he would deploy the resources required to ensure our communities are kept safe.