A SINGLE garda patrol car has been left to serve a population of more than 15,000 people due to a lack of funding.
People in North Wicklow have reacted angrily to the decision this week to force garda stations in Greystones and Newtownmountkennedy to use one car between them.
The patrol car serving Greystones was taken off the road last month after it clocked up more than 300,000km.
Due to a clause in the contract between An Garda Siochana and car manufacturer Ford, all cars that reach the 300,000km milestone must be taken off the road.
It has now emerged that the patrol car used by gardai based at nearby Newtownmountkennedy will be sent back and forth to Greystones.
More than 15,000 people reside in the two towns, as well as surrounding areas such as Newcastle and Roundwood.
Labour councillor Jimmy O'Shaughnessy told the Herald the decision was "outrageous".
"We are talking about two sizeable towns and surrounding areas not even having their own dedicated squad car. This is putting people at risk.
"There has been a spate of robberies in the county in the past week alone and we are very concerned that criminals will target homes knowing gardai aren't able to patrol the area."
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said that the decision signifies Ireland's "under resourced" police force.
"Patrol cars that are deemed unsafe should be immediately replaced with new vehicles to maintain a first class service to the public", a spokesperson said.
"Gardai should be properly and effectively resourced."
A Department of Justice spokesperson said: "A car allocated to Greystones Garda station was recently withdrawn from service. However, the minister has been informed that there are currently three cars allocated to Greystones station (one marked and two unmarked).
"Garda authorities have reported that the current arrangements are making the best use of available resources."
Gardai in Cork made a plea for extra funding last year after it emerged seven of its fleet would have to be taken off the road in the space of five months.
The GRA has described the decommissioning of cars as a "serious and ongoing" problem.