GARDAÍ do not have enough patrol cars as regulations state the vehicles must be taken off the road once they reach 300,000km.
Superintendent John Moloney told the recent Joint Policing Committee meeting that the embargo on public spending has limited garda resources and unmarked cars are now having to be used in the county, as patrol cars are not being replaced.
“Once the patrol cars hit 300,000 they’re taken off the roads, we’ve already lost four in Tullamore,” he said. The problem of limited patrol cars is further exacerbated by the gardaí’s new zero tolerance approach to public order offences, which sees twice as many gardaí as normal patrolling the town streets at the weekend.
“It’s a catch-22,” said Inspector Martin Harrington. “We’ve doubled the patrols so more patrols are out, which means there’s an extra use for patrol cars.”
“The force is downsizing and so are the number of vehicles, too,” added Sgt Tom Walton.
At the monthly Portlaoise Town Council meeting which followed the policing meeting, Mayor of Portlaoise, Cllr Matthew Keegan proposed writing a letter to Minister Alan Shatter asking him to keep the number of squad cars in the region. The proposal was unanimously adopted by all councillors.
“It’s absolutely essential,” said Cllr Willie Aird.
“If they’re taken off the road and not replaced, the guards have to use their own car and that’s very dangerous,” remarked Cllr Kathleen O’Brien.