Tuesday 23 January 2018

Howlin backs New Ross Standard over front page garda numbers story

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin
The front page of last week's New Ross Standard
Ingrid O'Brien

David Looby

The Labour party leader has backed the New Ross Standard over its decision to run a front page story highlighting the manpower crisis in An Garda Siochana in the district.

In the article the local Garda Representative Association representative described the lack of manpower as 'craziness', highlighting how there are often only two gardaí on duty at weekends for the district, which stretches from Ballywilliam to the Hook and from Duncannon to Wellingtonbridge.

A statement issued by New Ross Labour to this newspaper on Thursday night stated: 'New Ross branch of the Labour Party wish to express their condemnation of the headline in last week's New Ross Standard. Frequently we urge people not to advertise their upcoming holiday on social media for fear of drawing unwanted attention to their absence - an open invitation to burglary. How disappointing therefore, to see the New Ross Standard advertising the absence of Gardai in New Ross last weekend. Does the New Ross Standard believe only "good" people read their paper?'

Deputy Howlin said it was perfectly legitimate for the New Ross Standard to highlight deficiencies in any public service 'particularly when this is essentially a central decision on the number of people to be deployed.'

He said he has repeatedly raised the the issue of the lack of manpower in districts with the new garda policing authority.

'The deployment of gardaí is done in a very ad hoc basis; put bluntly it's often done on the basis of pressure rather than on a formula for fighting crime and on best international practice.'

Describing the issue as very important, Deputy Howlin said it is vital that there are adequate garda personnel available to protect the law abiding citizens of the New Ross district.

'I perfectly understand the concerns of the local Labour branch and the reality that the paucity of gardaí can be exploited, but the solution is not to hide the fact rather to ensure that adequate gardaí are allocated.'

He described burglary as one of the most invasive crimes as it violates people's sense of their own home and has a very long term effect far beyond the loss of the items stolen.

'Often it's only a small number of individuals involved who are known to guards so smart policing and intelligence led operations and monitoring is needed as the likelihood of a burglar being caught red handed is slim. More personnel is needed for this.'

The Labour party leader encouraged all branches of the party to be alert to local issues, adding that it was a matter for the branch themselves to issue statements and that he wouldn't 'second guess them'.

New Ross Standard

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