THE street riots and looting witnessed in Dublin last Thursday night (November 23) – in scenes deemed the most violent in modern times – could happen in Limerick.
That’s according to Labour Party councillor Joe Leddin, who points out that the country has 500 fewer Gardaí today than in 2010, despite an increase in population.
“Morale within the Gardaí is at an all-time low and piecemeal resources and budget top ups whenever there is a serious incident or riot is not acceptable,” Cllr Leddin told the Limerick Post.
“We need to restore the role of the Gardaí to one that offers good pay, working conditions, and career pathways. We need to ensure that a career in An Garda Síochána is attractive and rewarding. Anti-social behaviour is rampant across our city. Drug dealing, street begging and harassment, gurriers on quad bikes intimidating pedestrians and motorists is common place.”
Visual policing, the City West representative believes, offers people and traders peace of mind and a sense of security in the city and communities. He also takes the view that a substantial increase in Garda numbers of approximately 2,000 requires significant change in pay and conditions.
“We have seen how society effectively broke down in large housing estates when drugs and gangs controlled and destroyed peoples lives,” Cllr Leddin declared.
“Today, Limerick is a multicultural city with over 100 different ethnicities living and working here. We have no publicly-owned community facility in the heart of our city to help and encourage different ethnicities to meet as neighbours.
“It is frustrating that we find ourselves slipping back into a scenario whereby these criminals and thugs now openly confront our Gardaí and have no fear of reprisal.
“Calls to me as a local councillor to report anti-social behaviour are now daily and, if Government do not resource An Garda Síochána that will see a return to daily visible patrolling on our streets and in our communities, then we cannot but expect further outbreaks of extreme violence as seen in Dublin recently,” Cllr Leddin warned.