Saturday 10 December 2016

'We were promised extra officers on the Border but numbers fell further'

Paul Williams

Published 20/10/2015 | 02:30

The move by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan results from a meeting she had with colleagues of Garda Tony Golden when she invited them to speak candidly about their problems
The move by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan results from a meeting she had with colleagues of Garda Tony Golden when she invited them to speak candidly about their problems

The deployment of an additional 27 gardai to Dundalk station to beef up depleted local units has been described by rank-and-file officers as "wholly inadequate".

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Sources say that the move will not make any difference to policing along the Border with south Armagh, which they claim will continue to be practically "non-existent".

It is understood that 25 gardai and two sergeants are being sent to the district, adding five officers to each of the five units.

The move by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan results from a meeting she had with colleagues of Garda Tony Golden when she invited them to speak candidly about their problems.

Officers said a massive drop in manpower levels recently had left them stretched to breaking point.

Local rank-and-file sources say their colleagues have been left deeply traumatised by the death of Garda Golden, coming less than three years after another Dundalk-based officer, Adrian Donohoe, was gunned down by a south Armagh crime gang.

"After Adrian's murder we were promised extra people but they only stayed for six weeks before returning to their stations. Since then the numbers here actually fell further," one source said.

"Going on patrol now, colleagues are telling each other to be extra-careful out there and members' loved ones are petrified.

"The Dundalk area accounts for almost 50pc of all crime in the Northern Region, which stretches from Donegal all along the Border to Dundalk and it is taking a terrible toll on everyone.

"We wouldn't be talking about all this if it wasn't for one of our friends and colleagues being murdered, but people are saying they have had enough," the source added.

The sources described being snowed under with emergency calls and they have to deal with daily violence and car rammings.

In September, Dundalk received five new recruits from Templemore - one for each unit - but on the weekend they arrived, six local officers were injured in a series of car rammings in the town.

"In real terms, with the members out injured, the station was actually still down one body after the recruits arrived.

"The members who have come here from other stations, especially Dublin, are astonished at the level of calls and amount of violence we have to deal with here.

"The most violent offenders who put it up to the gardaí are from the North, particularly south Armagh, where they are used to going toe-to-toe with the PSNI. We are often lucky to have two members to deal with a big row and it is all wholly inadequate," the source added.

It is understood that 16 of the officers being re-deployed to Dundalk are being sent from the neighbouring Cavan/Monaghan Division, where manpower levels there are already down by 22pc.

Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association is due to seek a meeting with Garda Human Resources Management (HRM) to request that Dundalk and the Border stations receive the lion's share of the next batch of young recruits currently in training.

"If there is not a major injection of manpower then our colleagues in Dundalk will be burned out and you could see a large number being forced off work due to stress."

Irish Independent

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