73 per cent of people feel State is failing gardai
Results of Sunday Independent/ Millward Brown Poll, Feb 16-28, 2013
THEY no longer have the support they need from the State, but when it comes to the support of the people they are called upon to protect, the men and women of An Garda Siochana are still holding their own.
They're the two key conclusions to be drawn from the latest Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll when it comes to our national police service.
Asked if they believed An Garda Siochana is being sufficiently supported by the Department of Justice to do its job, an overwhelming 73 per cent of those surveyed said they did not.
But while support from the State for the gardai may be suffering as a result of the Government's relentless austerity drive, the people of Ireland still have faith in the service they provide.
Asked if they felt confident in the ability of the gardai to protect the area where they live, 56 per cent of those polled said that they did, 40 per cent said they did not, while the remaining four per cent said they didn't know.
A closer examination of the 56 per cent who expressed their confidence reveals a significant difference of opinion on the issue between urban and rural dwellers.
According to the poll, confidence in the ability of gardai to protect their locality is noticeably higher amongst those living in Dublin with a massive 74 per cent expressing their satisfaction.
The figure falls off slightly for other urban dwellers around the country, but remains high at 65 per cent.
While it is difficult to pin down precisely the reasons for confidence in the service provided by gardai being so much higher in urban areas, critics of Justice Minister Alan Shatter will invariably blame his recent decision to close upwards of 100 rural stations for the erosion in confidence outside of Dublin and Ireland's other cities.
And while 40 per cent of the poll's respondents said they weren't confident in the ability of the gardai to protect the area they lived in, that lack of confidence is higher again amongst farmers, with 62 per cent of this community expressing their dissatisfaction.
Rural dwellers, generally, are clearly worried at the level of protection afforded to them, with 54 per cent of those living outside of Dublin and other urban centres expressing concern at the ability of the gardai to protect their communities.
Ireland's older generations would appear to have the most sympathy for An Garda Siochana's efforts to maintain an effective policing service, with 79 per cent of those over the age of 65 believing the Department of Justice isn't sufficiently supporting the force. The figure falls off only slightly to 77 per cent amongst poll respondents aged between 55 and 64.