Gardaí link ‘chronic’ underinvestment to Dublin murders

Garda representative body says recruitment failing to keep pace with retirements

 Flowers left at the scene of the shooting dead of Gareth Hutch at Avondale House flats complex on North Cumberland Street. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Flowers left at the scene of the shooting dead of Gareth Hutch at Avondale House flats complex on North Cumberland Street. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has directly linked the recent spike in Dublin gangland murders to “chronic” underinvestment in the force.

As community representatives call for a reversal in funding trends that have seen 140 gardaí lost from the inner city in recent years, the GRA also warned of staffing problems where recruitment is failing to keep pace with retirement.

“Underinvestment is now being seen all over the country but in particular in Dublin’s inner city where gun crime is reaching an unprecedented level,” the GRA said in a statement.

Investigations into the ongoing gangland killings linked to a “feud” between the Kinahan and Hutch factions will be discussed at an emergency meeting of the city’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) on Friday.

Its chairman, Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam, said the meeting had been scheduled because of “the number of shootings that have taken place and the apparent disregard that these people have. There is a huge level of fear and anxiety.”

The JPC will ask gardaí what additional support measures they require and discuss how local and community representatives might feed into addressing the issues.

Recruitment

The GRA said the Government needs to accelerate garda recruitment, where current levels would take 50 years to bring staffing levels to those of 2010. About 800 gardaí are due to retire next year.

It repeated calls for wage increases and basic frontline driver training allowing those behind the wheel of a squad car to operate lights and sirens – the recent GRA conference heard the first garda driver responding to February’s Regency Hotel shooting was not qualified to do so.

Association president Ciaran O’Neill said yesterday only a quarter of detectives working on gangland crime were qualified to properly question suspects.

“We want our members to work with local communities and combat these incidents before they happen but we simply don’t have enough officers on the ground to undertake the work in the comprehensive way we’d like to,” he said.

Marie Metcalfe, co-ordinator of the Community Policing Forum said the reduction in garda numbers was inexcusable.

“[With] the criminality that goes on in that [north inner city] area it is absolutely appalling to lose all those guards. How can you police an area when you don’t have the bodies to do it?” she said.

“The guards are tired. They are doing overtime to try and police the area as best they can but it’s impossible. At this stage we are kind of lost because we don’t know how to handle this situation.”