LIMERICK Chamber CEO, Dee Ryan has issued a call on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to deliver on his commitment to review the use of 16 Gardai in security duties at Limerick Courthouse on Mulgrave Street, which she says is a wasteful use of valuable Gardai.
“Community Policing works. Our member companies across the City and County will testify to the difference that a visible Garda presence makes in preventing crime and enhancing a sense of security for their customers and staff.”
Continuing, she added “Chamber members are reporting incidences of off-putting, antisocial behaviour and break-ins which we know and believe are completely preventable. Businesses across the region will tell you that when there are Gardai on the beat they don’t have these problems.”
Limerick’s record in terms of inner-city disorder/small crime compares very favourably with other cities and over the course of the last 10 years the county has worked hard to reinvent itself as a desirable place to live and work.
“This isn’t just an issue for retailers and the hospitality sector, although that industry is on the frontline for impact from a lack of community policing. This is a matter that could impact on the whole county’s competitiveness because it threatens to undo our improved reputation.”
“Limerick’s economy is heavily reliant on FDI – the big multinationals, across different sectors, who have chosen to make Limerick their European base. We want to enhance our offering for that sector, that’s why the Chamber supports Lead Gold office space being developed by Limerick2030, that’s why the Chamber is committed to improving our city centre experience with a transformation of O’Connell Street and that’s why public transport and air connectivity through Shannon international airport are priority projects for the Chamber.”
The Chamber CEO contends that the hard work being done by stakeholders throughout the region is undermined by the under resourcing of regional Gardai.
“Our goal is to maintain our positive Limerick image. The reality is that prior to the opening of the new courthouse on Mulgrave Street, one Garda sergeant and three Gardai were allocated to courts. Now there are four sergeants and 20 Gardai. That has inevitable consequences for Garda presence in the city and, ultimately, impacts on community policing, which is a very positive crime prevention engagement process.
Limerick Chamber believes the solution to this is to put in place similar private security contractor services at the Mulgrave Street Courthouse that exists in Dublin courts as this would free up to 16 gardai who could be deployed elsewhere.
“We are calling on Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to accept the invitation issued to him from Senator Kieran O’Donnell to attend a meeting of the Limerick’s next Joint Policing Committee as soon as can be organised. It is critical that our Limerick Community Policing be supported with more Gardai and that the Commissioner delivers on the recommendations laid out in the ‘Future of Policing in Ireland’ report which advocates for prioritisation of Gardai to core policing activities.
“Furthermore, we are concerned about the reduction in general resources to Gardai in Limerick, with up to four sergeants and 11 Gardai being sought for the traffic corps. The potential cumulative impact from both of these would divert considerable resources away from the critical day-to-day service that Gardai deliver, particularly in the way of crime prevention“.