LOUTH TDs Peter Fitzpatrick and Gerry Adams have both released shocking figures relating to lack of Garda resourcing in County Louth.
Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick has questioned the level of policing in the county, and has raised the issue with the Mininster for Justice Alan Shatter.
Minister Shatter has come under fire in recents months do the closure of 95 Garda stations across the State, and his standing among rank and file Gardaí is at an all time low.
Deputy Fitzpatrick told the Dáil: “Minister, I doubt if you are aware of the real and discerning problems that exist. The reason I doubt your awareness is that if you were wise to the situation, there is no way that you as a Minister of Justice would allow such a situation to exist. “Minister in an area from Omeath through Carlingford and Dromad to Hackballscross, a distance of some 45 kilometres, how many Gardai and patrol cars do you think are policing these areas at night? Minister the sad fact is that in what is arguably the most volatile stretch of border in this state with some 36 crossings, rife in terms of criminal and dissident activity, there is the princely sum of ONE patrol car and TWO Gardai. Yes Minister in an area as volatile as this there is one uniformed patrol car and two Gardai to patrol the entire border area from Hackballscross to Omeath. Minister quite simply, this is not acceptable.
“In the Dundalk area including Blackrock, there is also one uniform patrol car to cover this area with a population of 45,000. Again this is not acceptable. “The situation is reaching crisis level. Please do not allow all the good that has been achieved to unravel. In order to achieve an acceptable level of policing in the Dundalk area, the following personnel is required to replace personnel who have retired or have been permanently transferred; 2 inspectors, 3 Sergeants, and 26 Gardai. In addition, nine official vehicles have not been replaced comprising of 3 marked uniform patrol cars and 6 unmarked cars. “These are savage reductions in resources in an area and in a time when they are vital. We have all too recently seen the carnage and devastation that the unlawful activities of ruthless criminals can cause. I do not wish to rake over the horrific death of my friend, Detective Adrian Donohoe, but Minister if ever there was a time to act and stand up and be counted it is now.
“In Dundalk there is only one uniformed patrol car to cover a population of 45,000 people including Blackrock. It is very very serious. Ministers are you prepared to allow all the success in the region be lost? I know Minister that you don’t want the gangsters, smugglers, oil launders, criminals and dissidents succeed?”
Meanwhile, Deputy Gerry Adams and councillors Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran, met senior Garda for North Louth in Dundalk on Friday.
The Sinn Féin delegation raised a concern over Garda resources. In a Parliamentary Response to Teachta Adams in January the Minister for Justice had revealed that last year there was a drop of 21 in the number pof Garda based in Louth. They number of Garda dropped from 311 to 290 with Drogheda and Dundalk taking the brunt of the loss.
The Garda also have only one car to cover the area between Culloville and Omeath. If this is called to another area then there is no Garda vehicle covering this border area. This is a cause of concern for those living in the area.
Adams said: “The people of north Louth deserve the same level of police support and protection that would be the accepted norm in urban areas. The Garda clearly require additional resources to achieve this.”
The meeting discussed the Garda investigation into the killing of Garda Adrian Donohoe; Garda resources in the region, including cuts to Garda numbers; fuel laundering; and community policing in north Louth.
The Louth Deputy said:“I made clear to the Garda representatives Sinn Féin’s support for their efforts within the region and in particular their investigation into the killing of Garda Adrian Donohoe.
“I want to specifically appeal again for anyone with any information about the killing of Garda Donohoe to bring that forward to either the Garda or the PSNI.”
The delegation also raised the issue of fuel smuggling and fuel laundering.
“Fuel smuggling and laundering costs both states on this island a significant amount of revenue each year. However, the sludge that remains after the laundering process is complete poses a particular environmental threat, as well as an additional and expensive cost to Louth County Council.
They expressed their concern at the lack of convictions following the discovery of fuel laundering plants.
The meeting also discussed community policing which the Garda acknowledged their continued commitment.