Armed gardaí to be deployed in Rathkeale over Christmas

Rathkeale operation a direct response to talks with settled and Traveller communities

Armed gardaí will be deployed on the streets of Rathkeale, Co Limerick, throughout Christmas and New Year, a senior garda has told councillors, along with drugs officers, the Garda dog unit and detectives.

CCTV cameras will relay live images to a centralised control room in Limerick city operated by gardaí, Limerick County Council’s justice and policing committee was told.

Holiday court sittings will be held as necessary throughout the Christmas and New Year holidays. A juvenile liaison garda will be based in the town, too, Supt John Deasy told councillors.

The Garda operation, headed by Supt Deasy and Insp Alan Cullen, is a direct response by gardaí to concerns raised by both the local settled and local Traveller population.


Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive confirmed separately that it would provide a "triage clinic" from December 20 to January 4th.

Speed ramps have been erected by Limerick City and County Council to curb speeding. Speeding by young people driving "high-powered cars" has been a problem in recent years, Insp Cullen told councillors.

Insp Cullen outlined the policing plan for Rathkeale before councillors at a meeting of a local joint policing committee in Rathkeale on Thursday night.

Big budget

An independent arbitrator liaised last March with the local settled and Traveller community to “come up with a solution” to concerns raised by the local population.

Last year, the gardaí put aside a a budget for policing west Limerick over Christmas: “95 per cent of it was spent in Rathkeale,” he told councillors.

Speaking later, Supt Deasy said: “Our plan will have a four-pronged approach – dealing with anti-social behaviour, roads policing and enforcement, criminality, and drug activity.”

“Our objective is to make sure every part of the community in Rathkeale are able to go about their business without being interfered with,” he said.

“We’ve listened to people and we’ve listened to when they think the optimum need for a policing presence is, and we’ll factor that into our plan,” he added.

Gardaí will go to local schools before the Christmas holiday to explain to students about “the effects of anti-social behaviour ... and the dangers of underage people driving and so forth,” Insp Cullen told councillors.

Illicit drug use

The Divisional Drug Unit based in Limerick city will carry out “swoops around the town searching people for illicit drug use”, as necessary.

A Garda personnel carrier will be on 24-7 duty throughout, while motorcycle and bicycle-mounted gardaí will be on duty, too.

The Garda Armed Support Unit will be on duty throughout, along with the Traffic Corps. The Garda’s Limerick Divisional Dog Unit will carry “specific targeted patrols”, he declared.

Gardaí have already reminded local pubs and fast food outlets to obey closing hour rules so gardaí can “get people out” of the town.

Meanwhile, gardaí will liaise with youth volunteer organisation Foróige to engage with “the huge volume of young people that come into Rathkeale for the Christmas period”.

Gardaí want to “see if there is any way of getting the message across, to deter anti-social behaviour” in a town, where the population can grow by 3,000 over Christmas, he said.