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17/09/2021

Local TD says communities are paying the price for under investment in Garda numbers

Local TD says communities are paying the price for under investment in Garda numbers

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD and spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD have called for additional resources to be allocated to frontline and community Gardai in the wake of increased random attacks and instances of anti-social behaviour.

Deputy Kenny has written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to highlight the lack of resources, while Deputy Ward noted that next month marks one year since the government parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens voted down his motion to increase community policing.

Deputy Kenny said: "We are constantly hearing about mounting anti-social behaviour across urban areas and cities.

“The recent reprehensible attack on one of our Olympians, Jack Woolley, has brought the issue into the mainstream but that incident did not happen in a vacuum.

“It is not just random attacks and it is not just in Dublin city centre. It is right across our communities.

“Across our suburbs and urban areas, we are being told about organised street fights, serious assaults and muggings, and open drug-dealing and drug use.

“There is a clear correlation between this behaviour and the low presence of frontline Gardai in our communities, which is a direct result of years of underinvestment by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“I have written to the Garda Commissioner to highlight the anti-social behaviour that is being raised with me, the concerns people have about low Garda presence, and to discuss a reallocation of resources with him.  

“There is an awful lot of hand-wringing from government but very little action. The Minister for Justice must intervene to ensure that frontline Gardai have the resources they need to tackle these crimes.”

Deputy Ward added: “We are now seeing the government's under-resourcing of community policing coming home to roost, and it is our most underprivileged communities who are paying the price.

“We had the Labour Party Dublin Lord Mayor telling the media this week that the reports of serious crime have dropped – how out of touch can someone be?

“When the Dáil returns next month, it will mark one year since the government parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens clubbed together to vote down Sinn Féin’s motion to increase community policing.

“The knock-on effect of their negligence is clear - an increase in illegal activities due to decreased policing presence.

“We have seen an increase in open drug-dealing and anti-social behaviour, and there is now a real sense of anxiety and abandonment across our communities.

“People are telling me that they are living in fear, and that they do not feel safe using public services and community facilities, such as local bus services, sports pitches and public parks.

“We are over two months away from Halloween and parts of my area are already under siege from the nightly barrage of fireworks.

“In the Programme for Government published last year, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens made a commitment to ‘prioritise visible policing in both rural and urban communities’ and ‘remove Gardaí from administrative, technical and other non-core duties to allow them to focus on policing matters’.

“Well actions speak louder than words. It is time they were true to theirs and started protecting our communities.”

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