Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher
Another Donegal TD has stated there is a direct link between the fall in garda numbers in Donegal and an increase in crime levels in the county. His comments echo views expressed by fellow Donegal TDs Thomas Pringle (Independent) and Pearse Doherty (Sinn Féin) in the last few days.
In a statement issued last night Deputy Gallagher concurred, adding that the 21% decline in Garda numbers or 101 less Gardaí over the past eight years and the reduction in Garda resources is having a direct impact in the increase crime rates throughout the county.
Last week Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle said there is a link between declining garda numbers and an increase in crime: "I’ve already had concerned residents and businesses in touch with my office over visible increases in crime since Garda numbers have been reduced across the County,” he said.
Speaking at a public meeting in Donegal Town in relation to fears that the opening hours for Donegal Town garda station will be reduced, Deputy Pearse Doherty slammed the lack of gardai in Donegal. He said that “Donegal is starved of Garda resources” highlighting the fact that numbers have been depleted throughout the county and particularly in Donegal Town where numbers have fallen from over 30 plus to 22 members.
In the latest commentary on the resources issue Fianna Fáil TD Pat the Cope Gallagher says there are figures to back up his belief that reduced numbers are having an impact: "The recently published Central Statistics Office figures show robberies, burglaries, drugs offences and violent assaults in Donegal all increasing with some at an alarming rate.
"The figures show that unless extra resources are provided for Gardaí within the county, they will continue to struggle to counteract the growing figures and instances of crime within our communities. It is time this Government realised that drugs, burglaries are not just an urban problem or issue alone, such crimes are routinely effecting all of our rural communities too but unlike urban areas, resources are not being directed to rural policing by this present administration."
Deputy Gallagher said the most up to date CSO figures show a worrying 28 per cent hike in assaults causing harm in Donegal, a 34 per cent rise in burglaries and a 17 per cent increase in controlled drugs offences in the county. The Central Statistics Office has just resumed publication of Recorded Crime statistics, following a 12-month suspension resulting from quality issues with regard to An Garda Síochána PULSE data. In Donegal last year (2017) the figures show there were 86 rape/sexual assault cases compared to 97 in 2016 ( a drop of 11 per cent).The figures show there were 246 reported assaults causing harm last year compared to 135 in 2016.
"It is truly shocking how Drug offences continue to rise in Donegal, by the end of last year (2017) there were a total of 294 controlled drug offences compared to 250 in 2016 (a rise of 17 per cent).
"Notably, there were 49 cases of drugs for sale and supply compared to 36 in 2016. It is clear that the drugs problem within our county is spiralling out of control and most drastic intervention needs to be taken by the Government, otherwise the scourge of drugs will waste the lives of our younger generation within the county. In order to counter act drugs in our communities."
He said Gardaí need serious manpower and additional resources not unlike what is occurring in urban areas at present. He said rural drugs crime never seems to attract the same attention from Government as urban drug rates do and that is what is what happening here: "Eural drugs rates are up. In addition a total of 488 cases of criminal damage were detected by Gardaí across Donegal by year end while over 1,200 cases of Public Order offences are recorded."
He called on the Gardaí authorities and the Minister for Justice to take action and immediately put in place a multi annual programme to reinstate Garda numbers within the Donegal Division, that the 21% decline in Garda numbers must be corrected and the full complement of Garda restored with the county.
Deputy Gallagher also called on the Minister for Justice to restore Glenties District Station to its former position within Garda command and accordingly rebuild the number of Gardaí serving in that district.
"Crime and the drugs menace effect all our communities and the consequences have devastating effects on everyone – the fight to make our homes and communities safer needs proper resources and above all a Government commitment to tackle the menace. I am challenging this Government to take action and to realise there is a growing crisis in our rural communities," he added.