THE DEPARTMENT of Justice has written to Balbriggan Town Council to clarify the number of Garda officers assigned to the Balbriggan district in response to a debate at the town council earlier this year where the Minister for Justice was attacked for policing cut backs.
Before the town council went on its summer holidays a heated debate raged in its chambers about the policing resources available in Balbriggan. Cllr. Sean Brown (NP) launched a scathing attack at that meeting on the Minister for Justice over cut backs in policing in North Fingal. Cllr. Brown labelled Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter T.D. as 'arrogant', 'aloof ' and 'out of touch' with the daily realities of policing in a stinging condemnation of cuts in policing and how they are affecting the fight against crime in Balbriggan and around north Fingal. He said that the closure of rural Garda stations, including one in Rush, was 'an appaling decision' and was evidence that the 'minister's experience in criminal law is zero'.
Cllr. Dermot Murray (FF), who raised the issue, complained that the local force did not have the tools and equipment to fight criminal gangs that had invaded Balbriggan leading to a major spike in burglaries in the town earlier this year. On foot of the debate, the town council wrote to the Department of Justice, seeking clarification on the number of Garda personnel working out of Balbriggan Garda Station.
The reply to that letter has recently been released into the public domain and gives a breakdown of the Garda numbers operating in the district which encompasses not only Balbriggan, but much of north Fingal. The letter from the Minister for Justice's private secretary, Damien Brennan, states: 'Specifically in relation to Balbriggan, the minister has been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Balbriggan Garda Station on 31 May, 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 68.' The letter explains: 'Balbriggan Garda Station forms part of the Balbriggan Garda District in the dub in Metropolitan Region (D.M.R.) North Garda Division. ' The personnel strength of Balbriggan Garda District and D.M.R. North Garda Division 92 and 762 respectively. There are also 66 Garda Reserves and 43 civilians attached to the D.M.R. North Garda Division.
' These resources are augmented, when appropriate, by Gardaí from national units such as the Garda National Drug Unit and the National Bureau for Criminal Investigation.' The Department of Justice correspondence says that the allocation of resources within the force is a matter for the Garda Commissioner but says: 'Garda management closely monitors the allocation of resources, in both terms of personnel and equipment, in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a district, divisional and regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.'