Donegal North East Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue has expressed serious concern about the drop in garda numbers in Co Donegal and the Justice Minister’s “fresh attack” on rural garda stations, at a time when the rate of burglaries in border counties is on the increase.
Deputy McConalogue was commenting after Bridgend post office was raided again this week – the second time in less than a year.
“In 2010, there were 473 gardaí in Co Donegal and this number to 457 in just one year. In addition to this, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has embarked on policy of closing and downgrading a number of rural garda stations across the country,” said Deputy McConalogue.
“Minister Shatter has already shut down 39 rural garda stations this year and reduced the operating hours of dozens more. He has since indicated that he intends to close more, and is now reviewing small garda stations in rural areas around the country. There is no doubt that Donegal will once again be in the firing line.
“The fact that this attack on community policing comes after we have already seen such a significant number drop in garda numbers in Donegal is simply unacceptable. While I accept the need to bring spending under control, the consistent agenda of this Government has been to target rural communities for the bulk of cuts to services. Communities in Donegal are feeling more isolated and vulnerable as a result.
“All of this has already led to an increase in burglary rates particularly in border counties. Minister Shatter’s policy essentially has the effect of inviting criminals to target vulnerable communities. We are seeing a pattern of criminals travelling to certain areas that are less protected, leading to a rise in burglaries in these areas.
“This has to stop. A strong visible garda presence in our communities is essential if we have any hope of tackling crime rates.
“I am calling on Minister Shatter to review garda numbers in border areas. The Minister has so refused to listen to the genuine concerns about safety in rural communities. It’s time for Donegal Fine Gael TDs Joe McHugh and Dinny McGinley to stand up for their constituencies and talk some sense into their colleague Alan Shatter.”