Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn and Sinn Féin Cllrs. Mick Quinn, Jack Murray and Gerry McMonagle have met with Donegal Garda Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn to discuss the findings of a recently compiled report on crime in North and East Donegalfindings and recommendations.
One of the key findings showed more than 25 per cent of the people interviewed said they do not feel safe in their own communities.
“That surprised us as a party,” said Deputy MacLochlainn, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal North East, calling the response “worrying”.
The Sinn Féin survey of attitudes toward crime also showed that 31 per cent of the people interviewed had been victims of crime or anti-social behaviour in the past five years but 27 per cent of those people did not report the incident to authorities.
“What we wanted to discuss was the issue of community policing -- Community Alert schemes and Neighbourhood Watch schemes,” Deputy MacLochlainn said, adding that the chief superintendent was very open to those recommendations. They have also recommended a public awareness campaign to popularise involvement in the schemes and to encourage people to report crime.
“The Sinn Féin representatives will make their case for increased Garda resources for Donegal to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, TD; and to the Garda Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner. In their meeting with Garda Chief Superintendent McGinn, Deputy MacLochlainn said that on the issue of increased Garda resources for the county, the elected representatives “were very clear that will be a national battle”.
While gardaí have reported falling crime figures, the survey reported that 59 per cent of people interviewed believed there was a serious problem with crime and anti-social behaviour in their community and an equal percentage believed the level had risen in the past five years. Seventy-nine per cent of respondents wanted to see more Garda patrols.
“What you’re seeing there is a real sense that crime has increased across the county and a real issue with Garda patrols,” Deputy MacLochlainn said. “That’s the perception across the county.”
In lobbying for increased Garda resources, the Sinn Féin representatives say Donegal is a special case. There were renewed calls for cooperation between the PSNI and gardaí, but because the PSNI is so well resourced, criminals, they claimed, seem to be coming across the border into Donegal.