Fianna Fail Dublin European election candidate, Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick, today expressed serious concern over the disclosure that An Garda Siochana is facing an unprecedented manpower crisis.
She said the incentivised career break now on offer to gardai combined with uncertainty over the back filling of a number of key vacancies at senior officer level in Dublin policing districts could lead to a further paring back of manpower and resources at a time when crime, particularly gun-related attacks, was increasing.
Cllr Fitzpatrick, who is Chair of the Dublin City Council Central Area Joint Policing Committee, said any further erosion of Garda numbers must be strongly resisted because it would send out the wrong signal to criminals and leave vulnerable communities more exposed.
Cllr Fitzpatrick, a member of Dublin City Council for the last ten years, added: “Even as it is Garda resources are seriously stretched in Dublin. The reality is that we cannot afford any further loss of manpower through offering attractive career breaks. Another area of concern in Dublin is that a number of senior officers have recently retired or are due to do so in the near future. These key positions must be filled without delay so that no break is allowed to occur in the chain of command and leadership in the fight against crime in these areas of Dublin. Unfortunately, the position at present is that it is not until after the officers have retired that the replacement recruitment process gets under way. This does not allow for any overlap or the orderly transfer of knowledge, experience and responsibilities which are all crucial elements in law enforcement and tackling crime.”
She said it was particularly worrying that any weakening of garda manpower should take place at a time when the lives and safety of innocent people are increasingly being put at risk by the rise in gun-related crimes in residential areas where people live and work.
Cllr. Fitzpatrick said instead of a weakening of manpower what the Gardai needed was to be provided with adequate resources to increase their presence on the streets and the roll-out across the rest of Dublin of the Small Area Policing initiative which has been highly effective in restoring good Garda-community relations in the parts of the city where it has been implemented.
“Gun crime has now become a major problem in Dublin with the number of murders and assaults on the increase”, Cllr Fitzpatrick said. “What makes these crimes all the more sinister is that a growing number are taking place in residential areas where people live and work and where parents are raising families. These escalating tit-for-tat gangland murders and attacks are no longer taking place in back lanes or remote fields but in housing estates and residential areas where law abiding citizens are exposed to the risk of getting innocently caught up in life threatening situations. Just last weekend the gun attack was outside a crèche where young children were being left off and collected. The fact criminals are brazen enough to carry out the attacks in residential areas clearly indicates that those who are perpetuating the crimes believe they can act with impunity and that is a direct result of the inadequate Garda presence in these communities”.