Niall Collins: Having officers on Facebook is of little comfort to the elderly
A tangible link between local communities and the people who protect them is vital in crime fight
The most basic duty of any state is to provide for the safety and security of its citizens. However, on Budget day, Justice Minister Alan Shatter arguably betrayed this fundamental role as he attempted to quietly announce the news that he is to close an additional 100 garda stations across the country, on top of the 39 that have already gone. He has talked about redeployment and greater use of Twitter and Facebook, but the spin is convincing no one.
The basic security infrastructure of the State, a garda station in the local community, is being systematically stripped away from communities across Ireland. While he sat on the opposition benches, Shatter styled himself as the champion of law and order and declared that criminals would be "toasting" a modest reduction in garda numbers.
This Christmas, thanks to his assault on the garda infrastructure, they will be toasting the complete transformation of Alan Shatter from the law and order candidate into a minister that's dismantling a community safety network that has taken generations to build.