An alarming spike in burglaries and violent crime has left communities in west Dublin “scared going to bed at night” according to local representatives.
More than 100 people attended a public meeting in Castleknock last week, where they heard that the number of nightly break-ins left some residents living in fear.
Households are installing additional security measures including CCTV cameras and dead locks to deter what gardai suspect is an organised crime gang targeting the area.
Neighbourhood Watch organiser Jim Jackman told Dublin Gazette: “I was stunned at the level of robberies. People don’t know what to do.”
He said while WhatsApp groups worked well, the fact that there is one garda station serving a population of 175,000 people – compared to five in Cork – was the real problem.
Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers said: “Gardai patrolling housing estates shows communities have seen anything but law and order.”
He added: “People are living in fear because of the increase in crime. Additional high-visibility patrols and plain clothes gardai have now been put in place in the areas affected.”
“However, we need more long-term thinking to properly address these issues, rather than responding with these short-term emergency measures.
“What is needed is a structured approach and to see the number of gardai increased to 16,000.
“Gardai are facing major difficulties trying to police while understaffed, under-resourced and under pressure.”
Earlier this month, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wrote to residents in Castleknock informing them that he had voiced his concerns to gardai over the number of break-ins.
In one aggravated burglary, a woman had a screwdriver held to her throat. Detectives believe the same gang may be behind most of the burglaries.
The public meeting in the Castlleknock Hotel heard complaints from several people who said they could not get through to Blanchardstown Garda Station by phone.
Aontu’s Edward McManus, who organised the meeting, said: “People are genuinely afraid. There is a very real fear that gardai are just ‘firefighting’, as the point was made that the population of the area is expected to reach nearly 200,000 people within the next 10 years.
“Blanchardstown [Garda Station] is unable to cope as it is. People are complaining that they can’t get through on the phone, and if they go in person, often there are 10 to 12 members of the public waiting for ages while one garda attempts to deal with them.
“This station is simply not able to cope. There is one dedicated garda car to serve the whole area on Sundays. This can’t be allowed to continue.”