A SPECIAL garda taskforce in every county is needed to clear over 32,000 outstanding arrest warrants, a Limerick TD has said.
Figures provided by the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee show that there were 32,564 outstanding warrants nationally at the start of this year.
The figures suggest there is a hole in garda resources, according to Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue.
“We haven’t got enough in our garda force, we haven’t enough of a targeted police force, and these figures are gong to be higher due to COVID-19, because all of our garda resources have been put into manning roads and COVID patrols,” said Deputy O’Donoghue.
Almost two thirds of the country’s outstanding warrants (21,343) relate to the Dublin Metropolitan Region, while Cork had the second highest number (1,509), followed by Limerick (989), Cavan/Monaghan (892), and Kildare (868).
“The only way we can deal with this issue is a garda taskforce, and every county should have (one) to deal with the issue, set up specifically to deal with especially the more serious warrants involving hardened criminals that are not appearing in the courts, not turning up, and are not being dealt with properly.”
“It’s taking years upon years for people to be brought in front of the courts for serious crimes, but for minor offences, such as a speeding ticket or parking tickets, or whatever, they’re been put through the courts, and the more challenging cases that are putting communities at risk are not getting the priority that they need, and the reason being that we don’t have a large enough garda force.”
Deputy O’Donghue said criminal were focussing on rural areas “because they know they have a wider area and they’d want to be unlucky to be caught because the resources are not in the counties”.
“Its not the garda’s fault, it’s the same as everything else in this country, the investment is towards the Dublin area and highly populated areas, and when you work out along the regions of all those counties like Limerick, we are getting crumbs; we are not getting the garda resources that we need, we are not even getting the garda vehicles that we need, and gardai are not getting up to date equipment.”
Deputy O’Donoghue described the amount of outstanding warrants as “frightening” and he urged the Minister for Justice “to prioritize the arrest of these individuals”.
In a written response to the Limerick TD, Minister McEntee said “the Garda Commissioner is, by law, responsible for the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including the allocation of Garda resources in respect of identified operational demands; as Minister, I have no direct role in these decisions”.
“As the Deputy will appreciate, difficulties in relation to the execution of warrants, including bench warrants, are a long-standing issue for many police services around the world; notably relating to persons actively seeking to evade detection and where limited identification information might be available to support enforcement. I am assured, however, that An Garda Síochána execute warrants as expeditiously as possible, giving priority to the execution of warrants relating to serious crimes.”