Garda Commissioner to meet policing committee today

GARDA Commissioner Drew Harris will be grilled over the “obliteration” of Donegal’s drugs unit when he visits the county today.

The former PSNI deputy chief constable will meet with members of the Joint Policing Committee in Lifford this afternoon.

They have drawn up a list of more than 20 questions they want the state’s most senior Garda member to answer.


Many focus on long-running issues such as the number of gardaí in Donegal, the closure of rural stations and the availability of resources such as cars.

But Mr Harris will also come under pressure to provide further details about the slashing of the county’s drugs unit.
Joint Policing Committee (JPC) Chair Gerry McMonagle said he intends to ask the commissioner about why the number of dedicated drugs officers has been cut from 12 down to four.

“The drugs unit has been obliterated,” Councillor McMonagle said.

“There was once 12 officers, now it’s down to four. We have also heard that the drugs unit will be based in Carrick-on-Shannon.

“We also want to know if there is going to be armed response in this area. It was in Cavan, we were told it was moving to Ballyshannon but as far as we know that never happened.”

Drew Harris will also face questions over the wider restructuring of Ireland’s policing model.

The Donegal News revealed recently how the county’s new chief superintendent will manage three Garda divisions as opposed to the one handled by his predecessor.


Aidan Glacken, who will also attend today’s meeting, has been tasked with overseeing operations across Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.
Another issue set to be raised are plans to channel calls to local Garda stations through a centralised unit in Galway.

Gerry McMonagle said, “There are a lot of questions coming from the amalgamation of divisions and I myself will be asking what this new model will mean for Donegal. Will there be more gardaí on the beat in each town and parish?

“It does appear the new chief superintendent will have a wider scope and we need to know what the budgetary implications of that will be.

“We have six Garda regions going down to four. Ours will reach from the top of Malin down to Galway or Clare. It’s a massive region.

“And this pilot project about a central call facility, where did that come from? Will it be the case that if we ring a Garda station in Donegal we will be put through to someone in Galway?”

Recruitment of officers will also feature during what is likely to be lengthy and wide ranging meeting.

Senior officials are on the record expressing concern at the low numbers of young people choosing An Garda Síochána as a career path.

Gerry McMonagle said he wants to know if the recruitment campaign for new recruits is meeting its targets.

“The campaign aim is that there will be a flow of 200 recruits being processed out of Templemore every three months. But the information we are getting is that there not as many people signing up for the gardaí as there used to be. How will that impact us,” he asked.

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