Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has this week hit back at claims made recently by Independent TD Shane Ross, who said that criminals have been having a “field day” since the closure of Stepaside Garda Station eight months ago.
Minister Shatter has said the local area has seen a drop in the number of burglaries since the closure, as well as seeing an increase in gardai on patrol in the area.
He says the number of burglaries in the locality fell by 31% this year in the period from March – when Stepaside Garda Station closed – to the end of October, as compared to the same period in 2012.
The minister said that road and traffic offences have fallen by 72%, dangerous driving offences by 54% and controlled drug offences by 22%.
He said a spike in the number of theft and related offences and damage to property is related to the targeting by thieves of cars in Ticknock Forest and this problem is being specifically addressed by the gardai.
Speaking to the Gazette, chairperson of the Fernleigh Residents Association Vincent Keaveny claimed that an article carried in this newspaper recently contained “sensational rhetoric”.
“At no stage have there been any violent attacks on residents or children in the estate. There has however been one incident of a non grievous nature but of concern to local residents,” he said.
Minister Shatter said he was very aware of the genuine concerns expressed by people locally in relation to the closure of Stepaside Garda Station.
He added: “I hope that the reductions in most types of crime and, in particular, the very significant 31% drop in the number of burglaries in the area since the closure will help to allay those concerns,” he said.
“I am informed by An Garda Siochana that closing Stepaside Garda Station has resulted in more gardai on patrol in the area, engaged in frontline policing instead of working behind desks.”
Minister Shatter says “great credit” is due to the Garda for their success in targeting crime, not only in Dundrum, but also nationally. He also stated that despite the substantial reduction in burglaries and other offences, there are some people in the local constituency who have been the victim of a burglary or a crime of some nature.
“It is sadly a fact that, no matter how great the professionalism of the gardai, there will always be bad people who do bad things and we will never bring an end to all crime. However, I regard it as unfortunate that there are some individuals who, for their own personal political advantage, choose to ignore the gardai’s successes resulting from the strategy they have adopted and who have a vested interest in spreading fear and worry for their own electoral benefit.
“I have always followed the simple principle, throughout my engagement in politics, never to mislead people and to honestly present the real facts, whether it is to my political benefit or detriment. I would urge others to do likewise in their engagement with the people of South Dublin.”
Meanwhile, Fernleigh Residents Association has set up a sub-committee to monitor further incidents and open a communication network for all residents to access any incidents reported to local gardai.
The Gazette contacted Deputy Shane Ross who declined to comment.