Fianna Fáil moves motion on garda resources

Wednesday 30 January 2013 11.55
Niall Collins said people up and down the country are suffering the effects of the withdrawal of services
Niall Collins said people up and down the country are suffering the effects of the withdrawal of services

Fianna Fáil has moved a private member's motion on garda resources in the Dáil.

The party's justice spokesperson Niall Collins said that the fashion and manner in which Minister for Justice Alan Shatter announced the closure of 140 garda stations on Budget day was cowardly.

Mr Collins said that the Justice Minister views garda stations as just bricks and mortar, unnecessary bricks and mortar, ignoring their value to local communities.

He said that people up and down the country are suffering the effects of the withdrawal of services and now the Government is trying to remove the presence of An Garda Síochána.

Mr Collins asked why the minister would not tell the truth about how many gardaí will be left in the force after the cuts.

He told the Justice Minister that he was reducing the gardaí to a glorified neighbourhood watch scheme and accused him of being totally detached from how people were feeling in communities.

Citing a rise in crime, Mr Collins said there was a severe absence of Fine Gael support in the Dáil and told Minister Shatter that he was probably the only man in Fine Gael who believes in his own policy.

Minister Shatter said many tributes were paid in the Dáil to Det Garda Adrian Donohoe following his death on Friday night.

The minister said it had been suggested to Fianna Fáil that the debate should, as a mark of respect, be postponed until after the funeral had taken place.

"I think that there will be general disappointment that Deputy Martin has allowed a situation develop where, when leadership was required, all that was forthcoming was what many will see as ill-timed opportunism and politics as usual," he said.

He accused Fianna Fáil of "breathtaking hypocrisy" and airbrushing the Fianna Fáil-led government's National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 published on 24 November 2010, which would have resulted in devastating cuts in garda services.

The minister said he had secured €2.243bn in 2012, which was €118m more than the Fianna Fáil allocation of €2.125bn.

For 2013, he said he secured funding of €2.2bn, which was €191m more than the Fianna Fáil allocation of €2.009bn.

Mr Shatter said by implementing crucial reforms he had succeeded in maintaining essential frontline policing services and purchasing additional vehicles for the garda fleet.

While staying within budget, he said the Government was able to maintain 13,430 members in the force, some 80 members more than Fianna Fáil envisaged.

He said: "Moreover, by freeing members of the force from unnecessary desk jobs by the closure of garda stations, which the Garda Commissioner advised had no operational significance, an additional approximately 160 gardai were freed up for frontline services."