A Galway TD has said the new Garda regional HQ building opposite GMIT is ‘hollow’ because of a lack of officers available to staff it.
Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF) said the West of Ireland is being neglected in allocations of new Garda recruits.
She slammed the Government’s approach to Garda allocations as figures from the Department of Justice revealed that County Galway received just 36 new Garda recruits between January 2015 and January 2019.
“I have been calling for an increase in our Garda force for some time. This Fine Gael Government has abandoned rural Ireland. The effects of their policies have a detrimental effect on my constituency as our Garda force is drip-fed new Garda personnel over the past four years.
“In rural Ireland, people can feel vulnerable and their concerns increase when they do not notice a Garda presence in the area,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
The TD for Galway East said as a member of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC), she was aware of the dearth of Gardaí in the Galway Division.
“To be fair to the Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, at every JPC that I have attended in the last five years, as a TD and as a councillor, he brings up the lack of Gardaí at every quarterly meeting – the man is operating on an absolute shoestring.
“The figures make for alarming reading. Only 36 new recruits have been assigned to the Galway Division since 2015. This is far from good enough,” she said.
Deputy Rabbitte said there was a total of 789 Garda recruits who passed out of Templemore in 2018 – and only 16 of those were allocated to Galway.
“I know there is a lot going on in Dublin and there has to be a focus there, but there also has to be a regional balance.
“This Government doesn’t understand anything that goes on beyond the Pale,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
Due to the lack of bodies, Deputy Rabbitte said a Garda stationed in Portumna was expected to cover everywhere from ‘Banagher Bridge out to the sea in Kinvara’ – something she said was unacceptable.
Furthermore, she said the new Divisional Headquarters at Murrough in Galway City was a ‘great investment’, but the four-storey building was ‘hollow’ due to the lack of Gardaí available to staff it.
“There have been great specialist units set up there like the Protective Services Unit [for the victims of sexual assault], but they pull sergeants and Gardaí into work in those and they’re not being replaced,” said Deputy Rabbitte.
This was a problem right along the Western seaboard and something that required the immediate attention of the Minister for Justice, she continued.
“There is a major lack of resources in the Western region. Despite having a new Divisional Headquarters in Galway, we have no Garda dog unit and low Garda levels. In the wider region, Mayo has only received 18 new recruits since 2015, and in Roscommon-Longford, only 18 were assigned.
“I will be raising my concerns with the Minister for Justice to ensure the western region gets its fair share of security resources,” said Deputy Rabbitte.