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Sunday 23 July 2017

Warning that new motorway fleet will only scratch surface

GRA president Dermot O’Brien
GRA president Dermot O’Brien

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

The representative body for rank-and-file gardaí described the announcement of 260 new vehicles as "piecemeal" and issued a stark warning that the rural crime crisis is worsening.

The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that more than €5m is being set aside to purchase a new motorway patrol fleet aimed at tackling the scourge of burglary gangs.

The fleet - which consists of Audis, BMWs and paddywagons - are due to be on the road by the end of the year, according to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

A significant number of the vehicles will also be provided to rural communities which are struggling to cope with a recent spate in criminal activity.

But the announcement sparked a lukewarm response from the GRA.

While welcoming the details of the fleet, the body accused the Government of treating the force and its members as a financial imposition and said the scale of the crisis merited a more wholesale reaction.

"These are essential pieces of equipment that the Government should be giving us to do our jobs," GRA president Dermot O'Brien said.

Thankful

"We shouldn't have to be coming on the national airwaves or print media to say that we welcome it.

"Why should we be thankful for the equipment we need to do our job?

"These 260 new cars are essential pieces of equipment that the Government should be providing us to do our job.

"The Garda Síochaná is an investment over time. The country was in a difficult situation, but that has come home to roost."

But Ms Fitzgerald said the investment "is proof positive of this Government's determination to ensure that the Gardaí have all the necessary tools at their disposal to tackle the scourge of highly mobile criminal gangs and to disrupt crime, particularly burglaries, across both rural and urban communities".

"This investment will support gardaí to carry out more visible and responsive patrols of motorways and rural communities, increased surveillance of criminal gangs and enhanced night-time public order policing in our cities and provincial towns."

In a statement, the Department of Justice confirmed it would allocate an extra €5.3m for a new fleet of garda vehicles, which is in addition to the 370 new cars the force received already this year.

The funding is in addition to the €29m invested in garda vehicles since 2012.

Irish Independent

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