Offaly TD warns of drop in local Garda numbers
New figures have revealed a big drop in the number of Community Gardaí in Laois and Offaly to help fight crime.
The figures were provided to a Sinn Féin TD for one side of the division who has demanded that the Government stump up the money to reverse the cuts.
Dep Carol Nolan called on the Government to provide additional resources for gardaí in Budget 2018. Figures from the Department of Justice, where Laois TD Charlie Flangan is Minister, show that the number of community gardaí in Laois and Offaly has dramatically declined in the past number of years.
"Figures from the Department of Justice show that the number of community gardaí in the Laois Offaly division in 2009 was 44. The current figure as of February 28, 2017 is just 4," said the Offaly TD.
"Community Gardaí are often the first line of defence in the prevention and detection of crime, playing a huge role in establishing links between and garda síochana and the local community.
"In rural areas, community gardaí also play a critical role in helping establish and support community alert schemes to deter local crime and enhance the safety of local people, particularly those who are vulnerable or isolated.
"It is outrageous that this critical service has been effectively decimated under the watch of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael," said Dep Nolan.
The TD said overall garda numbers in Laois Offaly is now 314 compared to 334 at the end of 2010 - a loss of 20 gardaí. She said the Garda reserve stands at 18 compared 31 in 2012.
She said four Garda stations have been closed in the area since 2012 at a "paltry saving of just €4,000 per annum per station".
The TD said it is clear that rural communities have paid the price for the bad policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - many people live in fear of break-ins and other crime," Nolan claimed.
"I am calling on the Government to prioritise investment in an Garda Síochana in the upcoming Budget, particularly in the provision of front line personnel and resources to reassure local communities," she said.
The Laois Offaly division HQ is located in Portlaoise. Minister Flanagan recently announced the green light for its upgrade.