It was announced recently that 5 new garda recruits were to be allocated to Kildare. The latest figures made available to Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins shows there were 300 gardaí attached to Kildare in February this year, down from 324 in April 2011. The loss of 24 gardaí to police our communities cannot be undone with an additional 5 garda recruits.
It is extremely important that Garda recruitment and the training of new officers is continuing but I think the Government needs to ramp up its efforts in this regard. The strength of the garda force nationally is now around 12,500 and there are a further 1,498 officers eligible to retire this year. This would leave the force at a seriously diminished level.
I think many people in Kildare will be at a total loss to understand why it took this Government until late last year to recognise the need for more recruitment and to finally take action. Fianna Fáil has long highlighted the need for additional garda recruitment to be undertaken to help bolster local policing across the country. Unfortunately the scale of recruitment outlined by the Government to date lacks ambition and will barely cover the number of gardai retiring each year.
Under Fine Gael and Labour we have seen crime rates are on the increase while cuts to Garda resources have become more pronounced year on year. News emerged this week that we in Kildare are only to receive 5 new recruits from Templemore. This is hugely disappointing and a cause for real concern. I believe this is a breach of trust to shut down Garda stations on the promise of new Garda rosters and then take away those precious Garda numbers when they are most needed to fill the gap
Fianna Fáil’s priority is to restore the strength of the Garda force to 14,000. I do not believe we can have an appropriate and safe domestic policing and security strategy in place for all our communities for Kildare and around the country without restoring garda numbers to this critical level.
Having worked with local Community Alert Schemes in Ballymore Eustace, Kill, Sallins and elsewhere I have seen how communities have come together to alleviate the fear of crime in their neighbourhoods. I would hope this increase in numbers also serves to ease that fear in the coming months.
This Government needs to wake-up to the looming crisis further Garda retirements will have on the force and up the numbers in recruitment and training as a matter of urgency.