Burton says plan is for 'more efficient' policing
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton defended yesterday’s closure of 95 Garda stations in the face of trenchant Opposition criticism.
Ms Burton said the Garda Commissioner and management were working on a programme of “more efficient policing for the 21st century”. And she said that at the end of the process the State would still have more than 560 Garda stations, “significantly more per capita than in Scotland or Wales” . She added that in Northern Ireland 40 per cent of police stations were to close.
Concerns of communities
Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea had accused the Government of dismissing the concerns of communities across the country by proceeding with the closures. But Ms Burton said it was an issue of “how we best police all of the different parts of our society with the actual objective” of putting people found guilty behind bars.
Mr O’Dea also highlighted the comments by Redemptorist priest Fr Michael Cusack at the State funeral of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe, who highlighted incidents of vicious aggravated burglaries on elderly homeowners in rural areas.
Ms Burton said the priest had spoken “very movingly” about the trauma for anybody living in a rural area or city centre who had been subject to any kind of a robbery, but particularly robbery with violence.
She said criminal methods had changed, including their ability to move rapidly from one part of the country to another. Operation Fiacla had been started to tackle mobile crime, she said.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Government was implementing Fianna Fáil’s agreement with the troika to cut Garda numbers to 13,000 by 2014.
And she criticised Fianna Fáil’s “grandstanding” on the issue, but Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen retorted: “You reduced the numbers too by different methods.”