Barry Cowen TD has called on the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter to reconsider his agenda of closing and downgrading local garda stations, in light of new figures revealing a surge in burglaries in border and commuter counties over the past year.
“A report reveals that the number of burglaries in Laois-Offaly increased by 32 per cent in 2011. That’s the second highest increase in the country,” Deputy Cowen commented. “What we are seeing is criminals targeting border counties and the commuter belt in particular, resulting in a huge increase in break-ins and petty crime in Offaly and Laois in the space of a year. This is extremely disturbing given that the Minister for Justice has embarked on a plan of cutting local garda resources. He has already shut down nearly 40 garda stations around the country as well as down-grading dozens more, and he has now indicated that he is targeting more garda stations for closure and cuts this year.
“The sad reality is that in difficult economic times, the rate of burglaries and petty crime goes up. Criminals are looking for vulnerable areas to target and it seems that homes in Offaly and Laois have been targeted more than any others around country over the past year. There were 974 burglaries in this constituency in 2011. That’s an increase of 32 per cent on the 2010 figures. Now more than ever, we need a visible garda presence on our streets to deter criminals.
“This is not the time for closing garda stations and reducing the opening hours of others. It is the time to protect our communities by having a strong and visible garda presence. We must protect resources for community policing, instead of making further cuts that will essentially invite criminals to target certain vulnerable areas.”
“I am appealing to Minister Shatter to look closely at these figures and reconsider his damaging cuts to local garda resources. In particular, Minister Shatter must look at the unacceptable increase in crime in Laois-Offaly and ensure that the local gardaí have the support they need to protect homeowners in this region.”