Wednesday 1 April 2015

Priest urges re-think on cuts to garda numbers and station closures

Published 30/01/2013 | 16:54

THE priest who celebrated the funeral of Detective Adrian Donohoe has called for the Government to reflect on the huge cuts affecting the Garda force.

Chief celebrant Michael Cusack, rector of St Joseph's Redemptorist Church, Dundalk, told the thousands of mourners, including hundreds of senior and rank-and-file officers that everyone should think hard about the kind of policing they want.

"I think we need to look into the eyes of Caroline, look into the eyes of Adrian's parents and allow what is best within us - our humanity - to recognise what evil can do when it's allowed to flourish in a community," he said.

In the aftermath of Detective Donohoe's murder, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has already been forced to reject suggestions from within the force that the killing was in any way linked to cutbacks.

But Fr Cusack used his homily to highlight the fear and worry among people in rural areas, including his own family, with the closure of stations.

"My parents are now living in a rural community in Galway that has no police service," the priest said.

"It only ever had one guard but that one guard brought great security. Since he moved, two men in their 80s have had their heads bashed in, one left without hearing or taste for the rest of his life.

"I see it in the eyes of so many in that village that they go to bed at night in fear. Is that the way we need to treat our brothers and sisters in our care?"

Fr Cusack questioned the cuts and austerity measures affecting policing, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Shatter and other senior political figures in the congregation to pay their respects.

One hundred stations across the Garda network will close this year with 95 not being manned after this month.

Elsewhere, Garda numbers have fallen to around 13,500 and it is expected that about another 400 officers will retire this year.

Early this week, Garda Representative Association (GRA) leader PJ Stone was the first to raise the issue of station closures and wider cuts following the shooting dead of his colleague Detective Donohoe.

He claimed that younger officers were living in "fear and trepidation" while more than 60% of the force had less than ten years' service and had never before experienced the cold-blooded murder of a colleague.

Mr Shatter said at the time that the murder was nothing to do with the austerity measures being implemented within the force and that argument about cuts were for another day.

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