Wednesday, 2nd December 2015
Proactive Govt measures will make a difference

“Fianna Fáil’s hypocritical scaremongering will not help Kildare families concerned about burglaries, but proactive Government measures will make a difference in the fight against crime,” according to local Fine Gael TD, Anthony Lawlor.

“The hypocrisy of Fianna Fáil on the matter of rural crime is something to behold. They remain brazen in their attempts to score political points on this issue, capitalising on people’s fear, when it was their policies that led us to this point in the first place.

“When we look at the significant investment by the current Government in Garda Units, Garda vehicles, stations and ICT systems, the significant increase in Garda recruits and the laws being introduced to punish repeat offenders, it is clear that Fine Gael is absolutely committed to tackling rural crime.

“In Kildare for example, there was €785,835 in capital expenditure on Garda accommodation projects between 2011 and 2013. Refurbishment works will also take place at Naas Garda Station.

“New Garda cars are another important element in equipping a modern efficient police force. Thirty six new Garda vehicles were allocated to Kildare in the last four years which will be used to assist the Gardaí in their pursuit of mobile gangs and to enhance night-time public order policing. A further announcement by Minister Fitzgerald recently brings to €34 million the amount invested in new Garda vehicles nationally since 2012, marking a massive increase on the paltry €4.8 million provided by Fianna Fáil in their last three budgets. Over 640 new vehicles have come on stream since the start of 2015. Compare this to Fianna Fail’s last full year in office, 2010, when the only 50 new Garda cars were delivered.

“These investments have occurred despite the severe economic constraints that have existed as a result of Fianna Fáil wrecking our economy, a fact Micheál Martin ignores in his analysis of the situation.
“After they destroyed the economy, Fianna Fáil closed the Garda training college at Templemore in 2009 and stopped the recruitment of Gardaí. By contrast, this Government reopened Templemore, is in the process of recruiting 1,150 Gardaí and is committed to continuing recruitment at a rate of 600 Gardaí per year. Outside of Dublin, Kildare has received the highest allocation of the newly attested probation Gardaí from Templemore. Fianna Fáil on the other hand proposed only 500 Gardaí in Budget 2016 and none at all the previous year.

“Minister Fitzgerald recently confirmed to me that the new 2016 recruitment campaign for An Garda Síochána, includes a special stream for eligible members of the Garda Reserves which is really positive for those Reserve members who are ready to take the next step. The Garda Reserves are also being given increased powers, which will help to take some pressure off the Gardaí. Kildare has 32 Garda Reserves and I am encouraging them to consider An Garda Síochána as a long term career option.

“According to the Garda Commissioner there are 61,000 more Garda hours available for frontline patrols following reforms to the delivery of rural policing. Earlier this month, the Government announced a €205 million plan for investment in new and existing Garda IT systems so as to enable Gardaí to perform their work more efficiently. Fianna Fáil was in government for 14 consecutive years and Gardaí were still writing their rosters with pen and paper.

“This week the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, launched a joint strategy between An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service to fight crime. The new strategy will target serial offenders; as Minister Fitzgerald pointed out 75% of property crime is linked to 25% of offenders. Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed. We are also toughening the bail laws so as to prevent those on bail from re-offending. Those who aren’t deterred by these measures will find themselves serving longer jail sentences for their crimes.

“Instead of scaremongering on rural crime for political reasons, Deputy Martin should come up with a justice policy and consider his own party’s complete lack of investment in the Gardaí and the reasons behind that.

“He likes to pretend the economic crash never happened. Meanwhile this Government is left picking up the pieces and working to restore public services. Now that resources are starting to become more plentiful as a result of our improving economy, we will continue to ensure that people are safe in their homes and businesses and in our towns and villages across Kildare.”