Fitzgerald under fire over policing claims

by Alen McMahon

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald has come under fire for claiming gardai are winning the war on crime in Dublin Mid-West – and accusing detractors of “scaremongering for political gain”.
The Tanaiste released a statement citing the weapons seizure in Rathcoole as an example that “gardai are making real progress”.
She made no reference to the four brutal murders on her doorstep in the past four months.
Rejecting her claims, Cllr Mark Ward (SF) said: “I would like to invite the Minister to walk with me through the most affected areas in Clondalkin and meet the residents and hear their concerns.”
Deputy John Curran (FF) said detective numbers were down 20%, adding: “It’s inexcusable given the outbreak of violent crime that we do not have a greater number of detectives to protect our communities.”
Accusing local politicians of scaremongering, Minister Fitzgerald said: “I am absolutely committed to ensuring visible, effective and responsive policing throughout our communities to prevent crime.”
She said funding had been provided for an additional 800 garda recruits this year, adding: “Garda numbers in Dublin Mid-West are increasing and will continue to increase.”
She also praised the new Garda Special Crime Task Force and the Armed Support Unit for their role in tackling organised crime, including the seizure of drugs worth €37.5 million at Dublin Port.
However, Cllr Ward said this held little comfort for the local community.
He told The Gazette: “Whilst I welcome the weapons seizure this does not have any impact on the day-to-day lives of residents of Clondalkin and Lucan.
“The reality is that garda numbers have to increase as they have been decimated by years of austerity cuts.”
He said the addition of five new recruits to the metropolitan division was welcome – but they were inexperienced, and would take time to find their feet.
He added: “In relation to the Minister saying that politicians are scaremongering for political gain, this belittles the constituents who have to live with the increase in anti-social behaviour in their area.”
Deputy Curran said garda numbers had not returned to their 2012 levels.
He added: “Given the most recent criminal activity, local gardai are essential on the ground in communities so that people feel safe, and are safe.”

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