Shatter's U-turn in attitude on gardai
Published 19/01/2013 | 17:00
The gardai are fighting a battle against crime with a considerable amount of success. In the past two days, we have seen the seizure of a massive haul of heroin, asset seizures against an organised crime gang specialising in nationwide burglaries and distraction thefts, and progress with inquiries into the activities of dissident republicans.
But a lot remains to be done.
Instead of congratulating the force on its victories and encouraging officers to build on them, Justice Minister Alan Shatter has erected fresh financial obstacles for them to overcome.
Earlier this month, we learnt of the shortfall in funding to pay the force up to the end of the year. Today we discover that the overtime budget has been slashed and there is not enough money to pay off the expected 400-plus personnel due to retire this year.
And when garda management have digested all of those setbacks, they are facing another dose of bad news emerging from the public sector talks that their budget is to be plundered again later in the year, resulting in another loss of almost €20m in 2013 and double that in the following two years.
In opposition, Alan Shatter was an outspoken supporter of law and order and repeatedly pressed the last government to keep the strength of the garda force at around 14,500. But now that he is in office, his fine words are not being backed up by action.
The garda authorities promised the public that closing 100 stations around the country would not result in a poorer service. But to honour that guarantee, they must be given the numbers and the financial back-up.
'Smarter policing' is the current buzz phrase, but it is meaningless without the necessary resources.