Tuesday 27 September 2016

Lack of resources helping dissidents, warn gardaí

Greg Harkin

Published 09/03/2016 | 02:30

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Years of cutbacks to Garda numbers in Border counties is an aid to terror groups, officers have warned.

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Dissident groups are planning a number of attacks in the North over the coming weeks, the PSNI has said.

It follows a bomb attack in east Belfast in which a prison officer was hurt.

But the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has warned that a lack of resources in Border counties could aid the terror groups. On some nights just a handful of gardaí are on duty along the Donegal border with Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

"Frustration about lack of resources is turning to anger about the dangers they are exposed to," said a GRA spokesman.

"Successive governments have decimated policing to a level where it is barely functioning and staffing levels are so low that members fear for their safety.

"Cross-Border criminals, drug dealers and terrorists are out there and our members feel they are being put at risk by being exposed to them without adequate back-up from either uniformed or armed colleagues."

We have learned of some gardaí working extra hours for no extra pay in an effort to tackle the criminal gangs.

While the last Government reopened the force's training facility at Templemore, garda chiefs say it will take years for numbers to reach levels seen seven years ago.

This is being backed by GRA representatives along the Border who warn that gardaí retiring will outnumber those being recruited.

The organisation's Donegal representative, Brendan O'Connor, warned: "While some new recruits are being located in Donegal, the fact is they are only replacing gardaí who are leaving the force, and as a result there is no actual increase in numbers.

"In fact the opposite is true. It is not even making up for the outflow."

He said the number of gardaí in rural areas was also being hit by a lack of resources in the county's four district headquarters.

"Gardaí are being brought in from rural stations into the larger stations to cover gaps there," he warned.

"We welcome new recruitment to An Garda Síochána, but that rate of recruitment will not replace what we have lost. It will be a long time before we get back anywhere near the numbers required for an effective police service."

The PSNI is on the highest state of alert, fearing terrorists will use the 1916 Rising events to carry out more attacks.

Irish Independent

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