Jim Cusack: Lack of back-up for gardai allows roaming gangs to strike at will
THE planned closure of 100 garda stations, on top of the 39 announced last year, may have grabbed the headlines but gardai say it is the depletion of the fleet of vehicles which is the main contributory factor in the rise of rural crime.
Entire rural garda divisions covering large areas with populations of more than 100,000 may have as few as five cars available between 2am and 7am, the time when many of the robberies and home invasions are taking place. Budgetary cuts mean that although the Government has said that €3m would be spent next year on buying 170 new cars, gardai say that 600 cars have been taken out of commission this year because of age, high mileage or damage.
Gardai also say that their job in rural Ireland is increasingly dangerous at night due to the lack of "back-up". Support in Dublin and other cities' may be only minutes away but in the heart of rural Ireland, it might be two hours.