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Gardai reject Gaybo's patrol shortage claim

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Gay Byrne

Gay Byrne

Gay Byrne

GARDAI have defended their road policing levels in the wake of criticism from road safety tsar Gay Byrne that drivers are "taking chances again".

Chief Superintendent Michael O'Sullivan of the Garda National Traffic Bureau denied that there is a shortage of gardai on patrol.

"We've committed huge resources both from a district and divisional level and divisional traffic units," he said.

"There is a large amount of mandatory alcohol checkpoints and other checkpoints and speed checks and 'Go Safe Vans'. So there are huge resources committed to the roads."

 

Chances

Gardai launched Operation Slowdown over the bank holiday weekend in an effort to reduce speeding on our roads.

Chief Supt O'Sullivan was responding to claims by Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman Gay Byrne that drivers are "taking chances again" because insufficient numbers of gardai are on patrol.

The broadcaster criticised the absence of gardai on the beat, saying they are not being given adequate resources and manpower. He said the perception now was that garda enforcement was down, due to depleted resources for the force.

"The gardai are just not on the streets, not on the ground. And once that perception takes hold, people start taking chances," he said.

Last year Justice Minister Alan Shatter rebuffed a plan by the RSA chairman to boost coffers by allowing the force to keep €30m in traffic fines.

Meanwhile, research by the Automobile Association (AA) has found that almost three quarters of Irish motorists believe the presence of gardai on the roads has dropped.

In a poll of more than 20,000 drivers, some 72pc said they felt there were fewer gardai than 12 months ago.

 

Killed

The new statistics come as the number of people killed on the roads this bank holiday weekend rose to five yesterday, when 85-year old James O'Brien, of Castledermot, Co Kildare, died following a crash near Athy, Co Kildare on Friday.

There were 162 deaths on Irish roads last year, the lowest since records began.

But statistics so far for 2013 show road deaths up by 18pc.

High enforcement has been a key factor in cutting fatalities over the past six years.

The AA's Conor Faughnan said Ireland has been "a road safety success story recently".

"But it is essential to keep up the momentum," he added.

The AA called on the Government to make sure that adequate resources are provided to the Garda to ensure that road safety strategy is not allowed to drift down the priority list.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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