Business Ploughing Championships

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Rural crime: Tánaiste points finger at Fianna Fáil government which 'shuttered' garda training college

Geraldine Gittens

Published 23/09/2015 | 16:26

Tánaiste Joan Burton has pointed the finger at the last Fianna Fail Government in connection with the rise in rural crime.

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Speaking at the national ploughing championships today, Ms Burton addressed the issue of how gardai are struggling to keep up with the wave of crime in rural areas.

She said the Government is working to tackle rural crime by training new and young gardai at Templemore Garda Training College, which was “shuttered” by the Fianna Fáil government in 2009.

“These criminal gangs are using stolen high powered cars and they’re able to cover three counties in a couple of hours in terms of opportunistic burglaries,” she told independent.ie.

“What we’ve been doing as a Government is we’ve reopened training in Templemore, so we now have 300 new guards, many of whom have been allocated to rural areas.”

“We are now recruiting for additional numbers of recruits to come into the gardai and I attended a graduation recently in Templemore, and we’ll be starting another course soon so that’s a transformation, because Templemore, from the point of view of new gardai and young gardai, was closed down and shuttered by Fianna Fáil in Government in 2009.”

Fianna Fáil's Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins labelled the comments as  'ill informed' and 'politically illiterate'.

Deputy Collins said: "The Tánaiste just reaches for the same tired old cliches and seeks to blame Fianna Fáil for the direct consequences of her Government's policy decisions. 

"She says that the Garda training college was temporarily closed at the height of the financial crisis, but failed to mention that she and her colleagues kept it closed for the last four years and has only recently started training new recruits.  During that time, they recruited into the Army, while steadfastly refusing to recruit into An Garda Siochána."

After a walkabout at the ploughing championships lasting a few hours, Ms Burton said she was fully briefed on issues which are currently plaguing rural Ireland.

“I’ve had a few detailed conversations with people around grain farming and I’ve met a lot of people I know in farming.”

“We certainly had a lot of the recovery begin in the Dublin region, spreading to Cork and spreading to Limerick and to Galway. Really what we’ve been seeking to do this year as a Government is to localise services like the IDA bringing in foreign direct investment to each county, and Enterprise Ireland is very involved with small start-ups.”

She said the Government has ensured that Enterprise Ireland is on the ground with people who want to start up businesses.

The Tánaiste commended women in rural Ireland for the contribution that they’re bringing to life and community.

“The issues are the same in urban Ireland [as in rural Ireland]. They’re around families being able to make lives for themselves and their children, employment or to start a business.”

 On negotiations for the upcoming Budget, the Tánaiste said both Fine Gael and Labour have an agreement to concentrate on the reform of the Universal Social Charge for middle-income and low-paid workers.

“We’ve got an agreement on that. We’re working on it at the moment. The amount of money that the Government will have leeway to spend on is between 1.2bn and 1.5bn, and it looks like it’ll be closer to the 1.5bn mark so we’ll be using it for the USC reform, a welfare package, and also for investment in areas like education and health.”

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