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Cars used by gardai 'old and rickety'

GARDAI say they are being forced to drive around in a rickety old fleet of cars, most of which haven't passed the NCT.

Members of the GRA have slammed the Minister for Justice after it emerged that nearly half of the garda fleet is over four years old, and unsuitable for fighting crime.

Figures released by the Department of Justice state that on May 6 the Garda fleet was 2,014, of which 957 are over four years old.

Garda Ultan Sherlock, a member of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) from Dublin said that the Minister's assertion last year that Ireland was the best-resourced police force in Europe was a "farce".

Garda Thomas Keane, of Ennis station in the Clare division, said 160 cars in the Garda division's entire 260-strong fleet were more than four years old. Of these, just 47pc passed the NCT, with 14 retested after minor work and 61 cars needing major repairs.

Garda Keane said it defied logic that the force was spending €10,000 a year repairing vehicles when new cars could be bought for €20,000.

"Until 2008 we had a fleet of vehicles in An Garda Siochana that we were proud of. With no budget for replacement vehicles, the fleet had deteriorated rapidly.

"In my district the main car has 260,000 kilometres on it. All cars in that district have an excess of 150,000 kilometres. That is a disgrace."

Minister Ahern said that there had been a "sustained programme of investment in garda vehicles" amounting to some €72m in the period 2007 to 2009.

"This level of investment has resulted in both the expansion of the fleet and the lowering of its age profile with consequent benefits to Garda members in terms of health and safety and lower maintenance costs.

He said Garda authorities were developing a request for tender with a view to purchasing more new cars this year.