The Gardai Press office in Dublin yesterday refused to comment on what they described as ‘an ongoing investigation’ and said no spokesperson would be available either to answer questions raised by Fianna Fail Councillor, Paul Canning, following an armed raid in Newtowncunnigham at the weekend.
After a series of robberies along the border in recent times, the latest incident took place on Saturday in Newtown when the local Chinese takeaway was robbed at about 8.20pm.
Two men in their late 20s arrived at the premises with their faces partially covered. According to reports, one man entered the takeaway armed with a knife and a hammer and demanded money, while the other remained in the vehicle.
Cllr. Canning commented: “This is a young Chinese family who have set up a business and their roots in Newtowncunningham, paying rates to the local authority, employing local people and offering a service to this community. It really disappoints me that we are not giving the proper protection to these people within our local border areas.”
He said the attendant in the shop was suspicious and noted the vehicle registration, which he gave to gardaí. Gardaí reported the vehicle had been stolen in Dublin, he said.
“Even though the gardaí were able to identify the registration as that of a stolen vehicle, they were still too late to prevent this vehicle from crossing the border at Killea,” he said.
Attempts to phone both Newtown and Letterkenny Garda stations immediately after the robbery proved unsuccessful, with the phone, he said, ringing out
Colr Canning said it took gardaí 45 minutes to arrive at the scene, and said the stolen vehicle’s ability to travel unimpeded from Dublin indicated a serious lack of resources.
“What is it going to take for the senior officials within the Garda forces to realise the need for extra manpower and patrol cars within these areas?” he asked. “The border areas are being targeted,” he said.
A Garda spokesperson said it would be inappropriate for An Garda Síochána to comment on an ongoing investigation, adding: “We don’t comment on remarks made by a third party”.
The spokesperson also rejected claims that gardai in parts of rural Ireland had been told to cut down on patrols to conserve petrol. He rejected too claims that fuel cards issued to gardai for patrol cars were ‘not working’ because of inadquate funds in the fuel account.