Fitzgerald comes up with stats for fall in break-ins
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has finally produced figures to back up her claim of a drop in burglaries.
Last week, the embattled minister claimed the fight against burglary was being won but was unable to provide any statistics to support her claim.
Suddenly, at her party's Ard Fheis at the weekend, she revealed new figures suggesting the number of burglaries is down 34pc since gardaí set up Operation Thor. She said Fine Gael have "always been the party of law and order".
The minister defended the efforts to tackle crime, saying gardaí were now prepared for the digital era and paperwork had been cut down so they can spend more time on the beat.
Ms Fitzgerald now says she has been briefed on the provisional figures by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.
The minister said she was told that since Operation Thor began last October, the number of burglaries nationwide dropped by more than 2,300 cases, to 4,449 instances from 6,776 over the same period in 2014/2015.
"It's still too many but these provisional figures show a reduction of 34pc in that period," Ms Fitzgerald said. "It's important to recognise that when the gardaí focus on this area [and] put the resources into place, we are getting the results. It's because we've given them the resources and will continue to do so, so that we can confirm that downward trend and deepen that downward trend."
Official statistics show a year-on-year rise in burglaries of 6.2pc to the end of September 2015. Figures for the last three months of the year won't be published by the Central Statistics Office until March.
Ms Fitzgerald's officials pointed to a 6.8pc reduction in the number of burglaries between July and September last year, compared to the same three months in 2014.
The minister has for the first time revealed the provisional analysis of Operation Thor. The anti-burglary initiative has seen more than 8,000 additional patrols by gardaí and around 11,700 checkpoints. There have been 496 arrests since November, mainly relating to burglary, Ms Fitzgerald said.
The minister was speaking at an Ard Fheis session entitled 'More Gardaí, Tougher Sentences'.
The minister pledged to recruit new gardaí at a rate of at least 600 a year until numbers are back to 14,000 "and beyond".
She that 1,300 new Garda vehicles have been bought since 2012.