Policing issues raised with Commissioner

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Senator Kieran O'Donnell addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.

ISSUES relating to policing reform in Limerick were raised with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at a sitting of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality earlier this week.

Limerick Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell used the opportunity to call for the re-deployment of Gardaí from non-core security duties at Mulgrave Street Courthouse back to frontline policing.

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He told Commissioner Harris that there is an immediate need for private security firms to take over these security services.

“This is already in place at the Dublin Criminal Court of Justice as well as the Four Courts and clearly would have the positive impact of releasing up to 22 members of an Garda Siochána to frontline duties. These Gardaí could be posted not just in the city centre but also into areas like Castletroy, Annacotty, Dooradoyle, Raheen and Mungret,” Senator O’Donnell said.

“I would not expect the full redeployment of all 22 Gardaí, but, we should see at least 16 extra Gardaí on the streets of Limerick, which is what the public and business community are looking for.

“This is all about the efficient use of Gardaí for frontline duties and it forms a key element within the future of policing report,” he added.

Commissioner Harris, said he “wholeheartedly agreed” with Senator O’Donnell regarding re-deployment of Gardaí from non-core duties.

“Gardaí are too precious a resource to be doing a function that can be successfully undertaken by private providers of a security function. It is not to say we abandon the courts,  if there is a particular threat, we would obviously be there as well, that is very clear,” he said.

The Commissioner committed to providing a detailed written follow-up response to Senator O’Donnell who then highlighted the need for new Garda stations to be located in large growth areas like Castletroy.

“Castletroy is quite a distance away from Limerick City. It is very strategically exposed with the motorway and we have a very strong argument on the need for a new Garda station to be based in the area.

“The Future of Policing in Ireland report states that ‘decisions on the ideal numbers of either districts or stations should be made by the Garda Commissioner’”, he pointed out.

Commissioner Harris confirmed that there will be a case for additional stations in the next five to ten years.

“An Garda Siochána have complicated delivery ongoing in terms of its policing review. At the same time there is a case for new Garda stations in areas which are set to grow, with many areas set to grow exponentially,” he explained.

Senator O’Donnell said that he would be requesting Limerick’s Joint Policing Committee to extend an invitation to the Commissioner to attend the first available meeting.

Commissioner Harris indicated that he would be receptive to such an invitation.