Five million policing hours a year are being lost due to cuts in force
GardaÍ are losing around five million policing hours a year as a result of the drop in the strength of the force over the past five years.
The massive shortfall in policing resources has been revealed by the Garda Representative Association (GRA).
It has calculated the hours deficit, based on an overall strength of about 14,500 in 2010 and a figure of around 12,000 this year.
GRA general secretary PJ Stone said last night: "Policing in Ireland has been stripped of resources, while political rhetoric has focused on 'streamlining' and 'efficiency'."
He said the transfer of gardaí from one location to another following the closure of 139 stations had been dressed up as if those officers had been freed from desk duties.
"This was disingenuous," he claimed.
"The figures speak for themselves. According to the Minister for Justice, some 61,000 hours of extra policing were created by the closing of this tranche of stations.
"If we accept such figures, then the closure of garda stations clawed back only 1.2pc of the policing hours lost through unreplaced retirements, resignations and incentivised career breaks.
"Closing stations proved insignificant in savings but has cost the organisation and our people greatly.
In rural Ireland, there was, he said, an underlying fear of crime that passed without reflection from the political elite.
"It is now becoming apparent that large swathes of the country were largely abandoned to 'lip service' policing," the GRA general secretary said.
He believed that many in the rural communities no longer had confidence in the Garda's ability to protect their livestock, machinery or personal possessions.