Spike in Violent Crime No Surprise When Garda Numbers and Morale are on the Floor – Tóibín
Aontú Leader and Chair of the Safer Meath Campaign Peadar Tóibín has challenged the government to start to provide a Garda force capable of fighting the spike in violent crime. Speaking in advance of a public meeting in Meath tonight on the increase in crime and antisocial behaviour an Teachta Tóibín stated:
“Its of no surprise to anyone that violent crime is on the increase. Garda numbers and morale is on the floor. The number of Gardaí has fallen for each year that Minister Helen McEntee has been Minister for Justice. In 2020 there were 14,628 Gardaí in the state. In 2021 the strength of the Gardaí fell to 14,369. In 2022 the strength of the Gardaí stood at 14,283. And the latest figures we have show just 13,892 gardaí employed across the state. Ireland has one of the lowest numbers of police per capita in EU. Every year hundreds of Garda are being attacked. Every year hundreds of Gardaí are resigning and retiring. Garda morale is on the floor. Recruitment to Templemore has collapsed”.
“My own county, the Minister for Justice’s own county of Meath his worst hit in terms of Garda numbers. Meath has just one Garda for every 703 people. This compares with the national average is one garda for every 371 people. Indeed Waterford has more than double the Meath figure at one officer for every 337 people. In all of this time the population has been increasing significantly”.
“Many citizens are in fear in towns and cities, not just at night time, but even in the middle of the day. In my home town just last week construction workers going about their everyday work where attacked by men with a hammer and with a shovel in the middle of the day. In towns in my county restaurants are closing earlier in the evening for the fear of attacks and violence. Children are being mugged for money and their phones on the way home from school. Lanes off main streets are off limits due to open drinking and drug taking. Communities, especially in working class areas feel under siege due to the increase in crime and anti-social behaviour. Sexual assault has doubled in 10 years. Rape has doubled in 10 years. Serious unprovoked attacks are now common place”.
Figures released by the CSO show significant increase in violent crime, robbery and thefts. But the reality is even worse. The understaffed Garda force are not even getting to the crimes that are happening. On a Saturday night there may be only 6 Gardaí on duty in the whole west part of county Meath. From Enfield to Oldcastle to Nobber there is often only one Garda in both Trim and Kells stations and one Garda car in each area staffed by two Gardaí in each car. The nearest back up Garda could be over 40 minutes away. On a given Sunday from Enfield to Clonard to Athboy there may only be five Gardaí on duty. If there is an arrest, there may be only 3 Gardaí in stations, not enough to even answer the phones”.
“Its beyond time that the Minister for Justice started to focus on what is the key element of her portfolio, justice and law and order”.