Deputy Charlie McConalogue and Fianna Fáil Councillors Paul Canning, Gerry Crawford and Patrick McGowan have met with Superintendent Michael Finnan and Inspector David Kelly in Letterkenny to highlight community concern about crime and policing in border areas.
In a joint statement, the Fianna Fáil representatives commended the Gardaí for their recent work in making arrests following a number of burglaries in the Lifford, Raphoe, Manorcunningham and St Johnston areas.
However, they re-iterated their belief that additional resources must be allocated to border areas in order to deter crime in the county.
“The local Garda force must be commended for their work in the investigations following recent burglaries in East Donegal. However, as a party we feel that the drop in Garda numbers in the County is making it more difficult to have the level of Garda presence needed in border areas to prevent and deter criminal activity. As Garda numbers have fallen, instances of serious burglaries have increased. This is not a co-incidence.”
Backing up the party’s calls for additional resources, Deputy McConalogue has outlined figures released to him in Parliamentary Replies from the Minister for Justice showing the sharp decline in the force over the last number of years
“In 2008, the Donegal force was at an all-time high of 488 personnel. As of June 2014, there were 404 personnel. Through the same period, eight stations have been closed across the County and many Garda stations are left struggling for essential resources such as enough Garda cars to enable them to effectively police local areas.
“Many Garda Stations are also struggling to reliably open for advertised public office hours as the staff numbers are not always available. The loss of 84 guards over six years means a real drop of visible presence and policing on the ground and the Minister must work with the Garda Commissioner to ensure that additional resources are allocated to our County.
“While the Gardaí in the County are doing their best with the resources they have it is absolutely clear that the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald must urgently take action to bring forward Garda recruitment and bring about an increase in Garda numbers in the County and in border areas,” concluded the Fianna Fáil representatives.