Local Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy has called for a greater number of Gardai to be allocated to parts of County Roscommon as towns such as Boyle have seen significant reductions in recent years.
Eugene Murphy TD raised the matter through an oral question with An Tanaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald in the Dail recently when he queried the number of Garda stations and the number of Gardai in the Roscommon/ Galway constituency.
Deputy Murphy commented, “Garda resources across Galway-Roscommon were raided under Fine Gael and Labour. The number of officers on the ground has fallen by almost 10% since 2010, from 237 to 215. The losses at Boyle are particularly worrying given the size of this town. Boyle has seen a reduction of four Gardai since 2010 from 30 officers to 26 which represents a drop of 13.3% -situation which has put this station under massive pressure.”
Deputy Murphy also pointed out that he had been contacted by numerous constituents in the Boyle area in relation to their ongoing concerns about the reduced opening hours at Boyle Garda station. Indeed in recent months a petition – over 1,2000 signatures from the people of Boyle and environs has been forwarded to the Minister for Justice seeking support for the restoration of a full time Garda presence.
“Local residents are afraid that a reduction of opening hours at Boyle Garda station may be a pre-cursor to full closure- this would be a devastating blow for Boyle and I would be totally opposed to such a move,” said Eugene Murphy.
Deputy Murphy pointed out that only five new Gardai had been assigned to the Longford/Roscommon Garda division to date and he highlighted the number of stations across County Roscommon which had closed in recent years including Cootehall, Tarmonbarry, Ballintubber, Loughglynn, Ballyforan and Knockcroghery.
The Fianna Fail TD also pointed out that towns such as Elphin, Tulsk and Athleague had witnessed a loss of Gardai but he acknowledged that that there had been increases and extra Gardai assigned to areas such as Roosky (33% increase) and Strokestown (50% increase), Ballaghaderrreen (14.3% increase) and Clonark where four new Gardai were assigned since 2010.
“While these large towns are feeling the strain of these resource reductions, rural communities have also been hit. Fear levels have increased, particularly in areas which have seen their stations close. A strong Garda presence is an extremely important tool in the fight against crime, and these communities have lost a vital resource. Many people are now choosing not to report minor crimes as it involves travelling to another town where there is a Garda station.
Programme for Government
“Fianna Fáil fought for improved Garda numbers and resources during its negotiations with Fine Gael and is pleased to have secured a commitment in the Programme for Government to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 and investment in CCTV at key locations along the road network. This will make a real difference to families, towns and villages in Roscommon and Galway and around the country and we will continue to pursue measures to tackle crime and protect our communities”.