Gardaí may be recruited by year end, says Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said he will consider restarting Garda recruitment by the end of the year but defended the closure of 95 Garda stations, saying they were no longer needed.
He said the locations of many that officially closed yesterday had been decided as part of Britain’s plan to police the “rebellious Irish” as far back as 1850. “It is worth making the point that the spike in burglaries which unfortunately occurred in 2011 occurred without a single Garda station being closed,” he said.
The criminal underworld had changed in recent years and gangs carrying out serious crimes, including robbing and attacking people in their homes, often travelled great distances. Burglaries and other crimes also occurred from the evening into the early hours of the morning. “An individual guard sitting in a Garda station for three hours for four or five days is not in a position to address that issue,” he said.
He did not elaborate on his plans for Garda recruitment but said he would bring proposals to Cabinet by year end.
Mr Shatter was speaking at the launch of a Garda community crime prevention programmes booklet and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Garda and Muintir na Tíre dealing with community alert initiatives.
He declined to comment on the words of Fr Michael Cusack, who strongly questioned the withdrawal of a permanent policing presence from communities when addressing mourners at the funeral in Dundalk, Co Louth, of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe.
Mr Shatter did not rule out closing more stations next year, with 135 having been shut in the past 12 months.
The closures began in 2011, when he asked Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to identify stations to close in 2012. That resulted in 40 closures and, 95 were earmarked for 2013. A further five will close this year bringing the total for 2013 to 100.
Mr Shatter said there remained 564 stations for a population of 4.5 million. In Scotland there 340 stations for 5.2 million, and 83 in Northern Ireland for 1.8 million, down from 160 in the year 2000.
He suggested the 2014 policing plan by Mr Callinan later this year might contain advice relating to further closures.