Garda death hangs over day's business

Fri, Feb 1, 2013, 00:00

Dáil Sketch:Wednesday’s State funeral of Det Garda Adrian Donohoe hung like a black cloud over yesterday’s Dáil proceedings.

Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea, when raising the closure of 95 Garda stations, referred to Fr Michael Cusack’s homily, in which he called for fresh thinking on policing resources so that people in rural communities could sleep at night without fear.

Fr Cusack, he said, was reflecting concerns expressed by politicians, independent commentators and organisations such as Muintir na Tíre and the IFA. Was the Government going to dismiss them?

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said she had listened carefully to Fr Cusack, adding that he had spoken very movingly about the trauma experienced by anyone, living in a rural or city area, who had been subjected to robbery.

“What planet is the Minister living on?” asked Independent Michael Healy-Rae. An exasperated O’Dea said he had asked the Minister a direct question, which remained unanswered. “The number of burglaries is up by 10 per cent, but I suppose if one tortures data sufficiently, one can get them to confess to anything.”

Burton repeated she had listened carefully to Fr Cusack. “He was talking about changing Government policy,” said O’Dea. “It would be great if the Government heeded him,” Healy-Rae added.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald had a swipe at Fianna Fáil in her condemnation of the closures. Fianna Fáil had agreed with the troika to reduce the number of gardaí by 10 per cent.

“Sinn Féin has its own way of reducing the number of gardaí,” said Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins.

Internal Coalition conflict surfaced later when Róisín Shortall (Labour) reopened her war of words with Minister for Health James Reilly. There will be no ceasefire in these hostilities.