The fleet of Garda patrol cars in Galway has been boosted with an influx of new vehicles in the past two years, new figures confirm.
A government backbencher says the investment in 31 additional Garda patrol cars allows Gardaí to move up a gear in its crackdown on rural crime, particularly burglaries.
Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, has confirmed in a Dáil reply to Galway West TD, Seán Kyne, that An Garda Síochána in Galway took delivery of 15 new patrol cars in 2013 and 16 new patrol cars in 2014.
The 31 additional patrol cars for Galway was part of targeted investment by the Department of Justice in its fleet of patrol cars across the country.
During that period, Mayo Gardaí received some 20 new vehicles; Gardaí in Roscommon/Longford got an additional 23 vehicles; and Gardaí in Sligo/Leitrim took delivery of 22 new Garda patrol cars.
However, the figures supplied by Minister Fitzgerald do not include the numbers of vehicles that were decommissioned during those two years.
Garda cars are withdrawn because they have reached the 300,000 kilometre mark on the clock, and they are effectively decommissioned for health and safety reasons.
Between the years 2008 and 2012, the fleet of cars in Galway had been depleted by 15%, from 93 to 79.
Deputy Kyne says investment in vehicles recommenced in 2013 under this government and will continue in 2014 and 2015.
“Gardaí need new vehicles to be able to deter and detect crime, particularly in rural areas. These new Garda patrol cars in Galway should help Gardaí fight rural crime. I welcome the investment in Garda patrol cars in Galway, and across the country. This is a positive development in what has been a difficult year for the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána. There was no investment in the Garda cars until 2012 but under this Government there was investment in 2013, 2014 and again next year,” said Deputy Kyne.
In her response to Deputy Kyne, Minister Fitzgerald said: “I am advised by the Garda authorities that an additional 438 new Garda vehicles were purchased in 2013 at a cost of €10 million. The Deputy will be aware that I recently secured a further €10 million for investment in the Garda fleet of which €7 million has been made available in 2014. This funding brings the total investment for 2014 to €11 million. The remaining €3 million will be made available for the purchase and fit out of additional Garda vehicles in 2015.
“Decisions in relation to the deployment of Garda vehicles, at Regional and Divisional level, are a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am advised that the deployment of all Garda resources is subject to ongoing review and analysis to ensure that the best use is made of available policing resources.”
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.