A Laois town has been without a Garda sergeant since the last one retired a year ago.
However despite pleas to the Laois Garda Chief by a local councillor, Mountrath with a population of some 2,000 people will remain without a senior Garda until early 2022.
Cllr James Kelly has pleaded with the Laois/Offaly/Kildare Garda Chief Superintendant John Scanlan to take a sergeant from somewhere else to fill the vacant spot in his town.
"The sergeant retired late last year. It has been a long year in Mountrath without a sergeant. I look enviously on Abbeyleix who have two sergeants and probably 13 Gardaí, I know it covers a bigger region."
He asked Chief Supt Scanlan to 'rob Peter to pay Paul', speaking at the quarterly Joint Policing Committee meeting held on September 20.
"Peter is broke," replied the Garda Chief.
He explained that there were no new sergeants appointed in the state in the past three years, because of changes to the law. A new wave of promotions is starting.
"I expect more hopefully early in the new year. I am trying to keep four Gardaí in Mountrath. I put an extra guard too in Borris-in-Ossory, Durrow and Ballylinan. These are capable of working independently on their own initiative without supervision. I am also short a sergeant for the domestic violence unit in Portlaoise. If I give one to that I'd be taking one from Portarlington and I'm not doing that.
He said several Garda units in Laois are without sergeants.
"There are several specialist units with no supervision, we are making use of every sergeant. They all have the responsibility of going to areas that don't have Sergeants. That's what we are looking at for the next 12 weeks. The first sergeant I get will be going to the domestic violence unit, the next one to Mountrath," the Chief Supt said.
He added that in the past decade, Laois has gained over 100 extra Gardaí but it is still not enough.
"I am now here in my tenth year and we have over 100 more Gardaí here today. We had two inspectors now we have nearly 10. We are still short of Gardaí I still need more. We do get as much as is humanly possible. Each time there is an out-turn from Templemore we get guards," Chief Supt Scanlan said.
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