DEPUTY Pat the Cope Gallagher has called on the Minister for Justice to immediately improve Garda numbers within the Donegal Division.
If follows confirmation that Garda numbers in the county fell from 488 Gardaí on the 1st of January 2009 to 387 Gardaí as of the 31st of August 2016 – a decline of 101 Gardaí in seven years within Donegal.
Pat the Cope stated that the content of the reply from the Minister to his recent Dail question on the matter was shocking and revealed such a stark decline in Garda numbers within the different Donegal Districts as well as the closure of the Glenties District.
“All the Donegal Districts bar one have experienced decline in Garda numbers – Letterkenny District declined from 191 to 156, Buncrana District declined from 91 to 70, Ballyshannon District declined from 99 to 95, with the closure of the Glenties District it meant a nett loss of 58 Gardaí to the Donegal Division. Only Milford District recorded an increase in numbers – from 56 Gardaí to 66 Gardaí within the seven year period albeit the area Milford cover doubled with the closure of Glenties District during that period.
“Within the same period as the decline in Garda numbers, we as a county have experienced a rise in rural crime, anti-social issues and with many of our communities actively lobbying for increased Garda presence in order to counter act crime and the growing menace of drugs within our neighbourhoods,” Deputy Gallagher said.
The veteran Fianna Fail TD suggested that the present situation is now at crises level within the Donegal Division with 101 less Gardaí now serving the people and communities of Donegal.
“I am challenging the Government to put in place a programme which will restore Donegal Garda numbers over the next three year period, to reinstate the Glenties District and to properly equip and resource the Gardaí within the county.
The rural decline which flourished under the last Government must now stop – rural areas must come first in order to reverse the decline experienced over the past number of years. Rural communities have real and genuine fears regarding security and policing, the closure of Garda Barracks and less Gardaí are only adding to those fears, the new recruitment programme for Gardaí must address the decline in Garda numbers within Donegal and it is only the Government that can as a policy reverse the decline,” Deputy Gallagher said.
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