Friday 23 March 2018

Capital is one of the areas worst hit by garda cuts as crime soars

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has argued that the force should not drop below 13,000 members
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has argued that the force should not drop below 13,000 members

Philip Ryan Political Correspondent

THE southside of Dublin city centre is one of the areas hit worst by garda cuts despite a shocking rise in crime in the capital, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Exclusive figures show the Dublin Metropolitan South Central Garda Division - which covers Pearse Street, Kevin Street and Donnybrook garda stations - had manpower slashed by 18pc in the past five years.

The strength of the force in this division was reduced by almost 150 gardaí, while crime sky-rocketed almost 30pc.

The division is responsible for security in Leinster House and resources are also regularly allocated to police demonstrations at the Dáil.

Garda numbers stabilised in 2014 so the effect of the drop in numbers would have been felt by the end of 2013, which is the last full year crime figures were recorded.

The Dublin East Division, which covers the affluent areas of Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire, saw garda numbers cut by 19pc, as did Dublin North, which takes in Balbriggan, Coolock, Santry and Ballymun.

Central Statistic Office information for these divisions show figures for crimes such as murders, rapes, assault and burglaries have surged since 2010.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald's local division, Dublin West, was cut by 13pc or 102 gardaí.

Store Street garda station in the heart of Dublin city centre was worst hit, losing 22pc of its gardaí over five years.

Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesman Niall Collins, who was given the figures by the Department of Justice, condemned the Government's "slash and burn strategy" on garda resources.

"Those living and working in Dublin are seeing an increase in burglaries, petty crime, anti-social behaviour and drug related crime in every single area of the city. There is absolutely no doubt that this is a direct result of garda cuts," Mr Collins told the Irish Independent.

Nationally, the Cavan/Monaghan Division saw the biggest drop (22pc) in garda numbers between March 2010 and January 2015. Numbers in Bailieboro garda station - which was the centre of the garda whistleblower controversy last year - dropped by 14pc during this period.

However, CSO figures show rates of crime against persons and property in the area dropped by almost 30pc between 2010 and 2013. Figures for last year are currently unavailable since the Garda Inspectorate raised concerns about garda statistics.

The Cork North Garda Division fared best nationally, losing just 2pc or six gardaí during the years of recession and austerity budgets.

The neighbouring Cork West Division, which covers Bandon, Clonakilty and Bantry, was hit with a 13pc cut. Both divisions experienced increases in crimes.

The Laois/Offaly division was cut by 17pc despite crime rates soaring by the same number during the period.

The number of gardaí in the force currently stands at 12,799, with 99 new graduates this week. Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has argued it should not drop below 13,000 members.

Irish Independent

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