Fears of Mountmellick Garda shortage

GardaI have insisted they respond immediately to calls despite there not being enough gardaí stationed in Mountmellick to provide 24 hour cover for the town.

GardaI have insisted they respond immediately to calls despite there not being enough gardaí stationed in Mountmellick to provide 24 hour cover for the town.

With only five garda and a sergeant working in pairs on ten hour shifts, Mountmellick with a population of 5,000 is being left for hours at a time relying on guards from other parts of Laois to respond to calls. Some incidents are responded to hours after being reported, claimed several Mountmellick people at last Thursday’s public policing meeting.

Cllr Denis O’Meara told of a serious incident where a couple were left waiting for four hours until a squad car came from Borris-in-Ossory.

“They rang Mountmellick station and were told there was no-one on duty from 5pm that Sunday evening,” he said.

Ron Lalor claimed that Mountmellick Garda were “indifferent and apethetic to the law abiding citizens of Mountmellick, and tolerant of anti-social behaviour”.

He said his and three of his neighbour’s cars in Lord Edward Street were vandalised.

“Nobody contacted me. I was assured by two gardaí in Portlaoise that this would be pursued. I went back a fortnight later and a guard told me “what can I do?”. I gave him two names and haven’t heard a blind thing since. I have made a contribution to this town, I will not be intimidated by brats, and I expect support from you,” he told Sgt Ingrid Moore from Mountmellick, and Inspector Martin Harrington.

A resident of Grove Park said they were waiting a month for Mountmellick guards to call to them about their vandalised car, having been reasssured by a guard who came from Portarlington that one would be along the next day.

Inspector Martin Harrington gave a guarantee that emergency calls are responded to “straight away”.

“It is not physically possible to provide 24 hour cover. When Mountmellick Gardaí are off duty, the town is covered by Portlaoise. Since the new roster came in on April 29, they are working ten hour shifts instead of eight. In a way cover has increased. Before they didn’t work after 2am, now if they are on nights, it is until 7am. We are all trying to work as a district force, trying to dig each other out,” he said.

He said it was a “waste of resources” to have a guard on duty in the station.

“If I have a guard in the station just in case the phone rings or someone comes to the door, I don’t have one on the beat or in the car. I think that’s a waste of resources. If forms have to be signed, a patrol car can call back to the station,” he said.