Sinn Féin’s Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan has expressed his deep concern at the 48% decrease in Community Gardaí in recent years.
The Limerick City TD said: “The number of Community Gardaí in the force has fallen from 73 in 2010 to only 38 in 2017. This is shameful and shows that this Government and its predecessor have had and continue to have absolutely no interest in investing in Community Policing. It is clearly leading to a poor Garda response and leaving residents feeling deserted and let down.
“The last number of weeks, since Christmas have seen a huge spike in anti-social behaviour in parts of the City In parts of Thomondgate we see, every night, gangs of 50-60 young people with often more than 100 congregating playing loud music, drinking and taking drugs. They are causing huge stress, fear and annoyance to local residents many of whom are elderly.
“The decline in Community Gardaí is especially stark in some divisions across the state with Limerick particularly affected seeing a drop from 73 to 38.
“These figures follow from recent figures which showed other reductions, that in 2007, there were 330 Gardaí in the Henry Street District, today there are only 307. Similarly the Roxboro Road Garda District has dropped from 134 to 128 despite the Fitzgerald report in 2007 saying Limerick will need “a minimum of 100 additional Gardaí.’
“I know from working with designated Community Gardaí that the difference a good community Garda can make to an area and to individuals and families is huge. Community Gardaí can build up relationships and trust with people at risk of offending, particularly young people, and direct them in a more positive direction, such as through the Garda Youth Diversion Projects.
“They also improve public confidence in policing locally.. I have seen myself the difference that Community Gardaí can make in various local community and voluntary groups there are involved in Limerick.
“Failing to make these kinds of investments could undo the good work that was built up, particularly in disadvantaged communities, over many years.
“It is increasingly clear that successive Governments have zero interest in Community Policing and is unwilling to invest in it. The fact that the number of Community Gardaí has fallen off a cliff, and indeed is still falling, is proof of that. It is scandalous. The Minister needs urgently to start addressing these decreases, people deserve better policing and to feel safe in their own homes.” He concluded.
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