A “worrying” pattern of resignations has been detected in An Garda Síochána as junior members are expected to work for little money and risk their lives, a senior garda has warned.
Addressing, a meeting of Fingal County Council’s joint policing committee (JPC) on Friday, Superintendent Ronan Barry of Coolock in north Dublin said a high number of recent departures in his own district was of concern.
“Resources are tight. People are getting promoted, people are retiring, people are resigning from the guards,” he said in answer to a question around resourcing community policing.
“We are no longer an attractive job. We work for pittance and we’re expected to put our lives on the line. I know that sounds like an extreme but there’s a lot of junior members coming into the organisation and after a year or two saying no, this isn’t for me.
“It’s not worth the financial cuts and for various other reasons they’re leaving us. Unfortunately I have had eight members resign in the last 12 months just for the Coolock area alone, so Coolock, Swords and Malahide. That is a high statistic, that is a worrying statistic.”
Supt Barry’s comments come in the wake of a number of high profile attacks on gardaí in recent times.
He was addressing councillors and community representatives at December’s JPC, meetings designed to communicate policing information on crime trends and various initiatives and responses.
Chairman Cllr Ian Carey said he had been “inundated” with social media footage of “prowlers”, often captured when people rang doorbells.
Supt Barry said people were encouraged to report any suspicious activity and particularly good quality footage.
However, he said: “Some WhatsApp groups go above and beyond and they share everything and anything. There may not have been a crime… Someone out walking their dog late at night might be suspicious in one person’s eyes but unless they have actually committed a crime we don’t necessarily need to know it.”
On that note, Sinn Féin Cllr Ann Graves said a number of recent community responses to suspected prowlers had been of concern.
“I know in two instances where two different residents groups actually got together and went out after someone because they sent a message around to say somebody’s is in the area,” she said.
“One of them turned out to be a milkman and the other guy was delivering leaflets. They actually were people who were doing no harm, just because they happened to be out in the dark and early in the morning.”
Supt Barry was also asked about an apparent rise in people carrying weapons, and said seizures of items such as penknives followed an increase in patrols.
“There is an education piece in the schools programme trying to explain to kids that no matter what religion, background or otherwise, I know some religious beliefs would make them carry knives around as a sort of norm,” he said.
He said this issue was not necessarily the cause of increases but was now a reality in society.