I’ve always been outspoken on the serious issue of crime across Kildare North and how it has affected our communities and have looked at ways to stem that. On a national level as part of our policy proposals for the upcoming General Election, Fianna Fáil is prepared to take immediate and bold action to tackle the growing crime wave hitting rural Ireland. The party will put in place a seven point plan which will seek to address the crime epidemic in rural Ireland and ensure communities can live in security and without fear. As we’re all too well aware, rural Kildare has suffered considerably in this current crime wave.
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.
Recent figures released show a significant decrease in Garda numbers deployed in Kildare. The government have failed in their lack of forward planning and regard to the public safety of Kildare residents. This news comes on top of a spate of closures of Garda stations by the government which I have warned against over the last number of years. I have been highlighting crime and security concerns for some time now.
It is not good enough that Kildare has to suffer further decreases to Gardaí numbers in our county. The cumulative cuts imposed by the current government over the previous four years have left Kildare’s Garda force severely depleted. We are now drastically below the national average in regards to Gardaí to population ratio. In fact we have the lowest number of Gardaí per capita in the country. Despite three government T.D.’s North Kildare continues to receive the worst of the cuts to services imposed by Fine Gael and Labour.
Three public meetings were held in recent weeks, one in Kilteel and two in Kill, following the Garda station closure, and positive outcomes have been achieved. The meetings were organised by Fianna Fáil’s Naas Area Representative, James Lawless, to allow the community discuss the issues and explore the options.
“We have made some progress” said James “amidst concern and alarm at the outset when the village was left exposed, we have now taken steps as a community to advance measures of self-help”.