Fianna Fáil TD for Wicklow Stephen Donnelly and Cllr. Gerry Walsh have called on the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to ensure that Wicklow receives an increased allocation of new Gardaí when a new tranche of trainees graduate later this year.
Deputy Donnelly made the comments after attending a meeting organised by Feet on the Beat, a group set up in light of increased crime in the Kilcoole area.
Deputy Donnelly said, “Just 10 additional Gardaí have been allocated to Wicklow since training resumed in 2014. This is an abysmal number considering the fact that just under 1,000 new Gardaí have graduated from Templemore in that same period. To make matters worse, some 32 Gardaí have left the Wicklow Division over the last 18 months, meaning there has been a net loss of 22 Gardaí in the county.
“This meagre allocation coincides with the closure of local Garda stations, cuts to personnel and a reduction of services across the county. It comes as no surprise that as a result of these harsh cuts we have seen a significant increase in burglaries in recent years, particularly in areas such as Bray, Greystones and Kilcoole.
“There is no doubt that Wicklow has suffered as a result of the Government’s refusal to allocate significant resources to the county. The strength of the force locally currently stands at 295, a marked drop from the 365 officers stationed in the county in 2010. The population of Wicklow has also grown over the same period of time, so the Gardaí have to do more with fewer resources.
“We need to see more Gardaí on the streets and in our towns and villages. Visibility plays a huge part in deterring crime and easing the fears of local people. Fianna Fáil secured a commitment under the Confidence and Supply Arrangement for increased Garda recruitment. I’m calling on Minister Flanagan to ensure that Wicklow receives a substantial allocation of personnel once the new recruits graduate.”
Cllr. Walsh Commented, “The Crime Prevention Officer gave a very informative presentation on security advice for Kilcoole residents which was well received.
“As a member of the Joint Policing Committee and a former Garda sergeant, I am acutely aware of the issue. I raise it regularly at this forum. It’s important that the people of Greystones feel secure. That means having the visible Garda presence in the Greystones District.”