Public confidence in local policing has been strongly impacted by cut backs to gardai, a special meeting of Donegal County Council has heard.
Friday’s meeting was held following a number of well publicised crime incidents where vulnerable people including the elderly and those living alone were targeted.
The meeting was chaired by Mayor, Cllr. Ian McGarvey. Superintendent Andrew Archibald and Garda John Mulroe represented the gardaí and it was attended by public members of the Joint Policing Committee, as well as county councillors.
Supt Archibald offered apologies for Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn who was unable to attend and said his role was to observe the meeting and take the concerns raised back to her to assist with police strategy in the future. He said he would not be commenting on individual crime cases.
A number of councillors voiced frustration that the forum would not generate answers from senior gardaí but did acknowledge the position garda representatives present were in.
Reductions in garda numbers and the activity of repeat offenders were two of the most common issues brought up at the meeting by councillors.
The motion to hold the meeting was tabled by Cllr Michael McBride who said he wished to highlight a spate of serious “creeper burglaries” in the Letterkenny area recently.
He said the incidents have had a serious impact in generating fear in many elderly people and those living alone.
He highlighted the change to policing districts in the county next month and referred to the fact that Glenties Garda Station will cease to be a district office.
It will now be divided between the Ballyshannon and Milford districts.
Cllr. McBride said this left two “vast areas” to be policed. He also called on a wider use of cameras to help prevent crime.
Cllr. Patrick McGowan said such technology was in place and what was needed was more gardaí on the ground.
“At the end of the day, policing is about policing,” he said.
Cllr. Frank McBrearty highlighted the recent situation with the death of his neighbour, the late Suzy Arthur.
The pensioner, who was attacked in the home she shared with her sister, died two months after a gang targeted them in a burglary.
Greater co-operation between the public and gardai was called for by Cllr. Dessie Larkin.
JPC member Lawrence McManus from Pettigo asked that the recent budget cut to pensioner phone allowances be reversed.