Labour councillor calls for boost in community policing in Limerick

Limerick Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan

LABOUR Party councillor Conor Sheehan is calling for an increase in community policing in Limerick.

The City North councillor was speaking ahead of a Labour motion in the Seanad calling for a significant increase in policing numbers to tackle pressing concerns in local communities.

“Sufficient Garda presence is crucial to the wellbeing and safety of our communities. Community policing model is a partnership-based, proactive, problem-solving style of policing, focused on community engagement, crime prevention, and law enforcement and we need more of it,” Cllr Sheehan said.

“Fine Gael have been in charge of Justice for 12 years and Garda morale is on the floor.  We’ve heard from a worrying Garda Representative Association survey that there is a worrying culture of bullying, stress, and mental burnout within the organisation. There are also far less community Gardaí active than there were a year ago.

“There are 585 Gardaí allocated to the Limerick division, which is the lowest number in five years. With the recruitment and retention crisis in An Garda Síochána, I am worried that number will continue to decrease year on year,” he added.

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According to Cllr Sheehan, the issue of adequate community policing is constantly coming up when he is knocking on doors in Limerick. It is imperative, he believes, that government properly resource community safety partnerships to enable them to fulfil their potential and intent.

The Labour councillor further called for an increased number of juvenile liaison officers to provide essential support for young people engaging with youth diversion programmes.

“Early intervention is key to breaking the cycle of youth offending and fostering positive outcomes,” he said.

“Last year, the total strength of An Garda Síochána declined, reaching the lowest level in five years. We know 164 Gardaí resigned from the service compared with 26 a decade ago. This is a 50 per cent increase on the previous year, a six-fold increase on 2016, and Fine Gael are failing to address the issue. Fine Gael’s inadequate response to this crisis is unacceptable. We demand immediate action to address this issue.”

“We need to re-establish small policing areas and significantly increase the recruitment of community focused Gardaí who are tasked with building relationships in local communities.”