The opening of the new Gort to Tuam motorway has resulted in a huge increase in crime – with criminals now enjoying speedier access and getaways.
And that has led to calls for Garda motorway patrols to be intensified before the situation gets out of control.
Over just one weekend alone since the motorway opened, there were 42 thefts from vehicles in the Western District – twice the normal number.
The Garda Representative Association, which represents rank and file members, said that the new motorway had created a lot more problems for the force.
They say that areas like Athenry and Tuam – now more accessible – have become easy targets for travelling gangs of criminals.
Last weekend, Tuam Gardaí seized cars belonging to travelling criminals who they believe were intent on illegal activity in the area.
Garda Dermot O’Brien of the Garda Representative Association said that the opening of the new motorway had presented criminals with an easy access to the West of Ireland.
He said that the number of burglaries that had taken place had increased two-fold since the motorway opened.
“It has just made the West of Ireland even more accessible and it is something that the Garda hierarchy has to address as a matter of urgency,” Garda O’Brien added.
The matter is to be raised at next week’s public meeting of County Galway’s Joint Policing Committee which will be held in Maam Cross.
Local public representatives are to ask the Garda authorities about what measures are being taken to combat the easy access criminal gangs now have as a result of the new motorway.
The Garda authorities have now been urged to mount more motorway patrolsin an effort to detect travelling gangs of criminals who are utilising the motorway network to get to and from Galway in the quickest possible time.
“Motorways are great but they do present criminals with the easiest possible access route to the likes of Tuam, Athenry, Loughrea and Ballinasloe. It has become a major problem,” Dermot O’Brien added.
Meanwhile, Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon agreed that there had to be more patrols on the motorways approaching Galway.
“It is not acceptable that there are criminal gangs coming to Galway as a result of the motorway. They have to be stopped in their tracks.
“The provision of the Gort to Tuam motorway and Tuam bypass has been a great asset but for it to be utilised as a means for criminal gangs to access the West is not acceptable.
“This is a matter I will be raising with the Minister for Justice as the last thing we want are criminal gangs descending upon us,” Minister Cannon added.