Deputy Joe McHugh said criminals should not be afforded the luxury of thinking once they crossed the border ‘they were home free’. And in the wake of increasing concern about crime levels locally - there were six burglaries in Buncrana between last Saturday and Monday - he wants to see massively increased cooperation between Donegal Gardaí and the PSNI in Derry.
Speaking with the ‘Journal’ yesterday Deputy McHugh said: “There is constant inter-action between Derry and Donegal, particularly Inishowen.
Day and daily people come and go between the two places. They go shopping, get fuel, go for a drive. All the small roads that were closed during the Troubles are open.
“That is to be welcomed. The down side of this is we have the fourth largest city in the country with all its troubled history, its problems right on our doorstep.
“And in that context to try and claim Buncrana, Muff, Carn, Moville etc can be regarded as ‘rural’ in terms of policing is totally erroneous.”
Making it clear he was not advocating gardai driving straight into the North or the PSNI patrolling in the Republic he was, he said, asking for an increasing level of ‘formalised co-operation’ to deal with criminality - right down to the level of regular contact between the garda/PSNI constable patrolling the streets.
Speaking earlier in the Dail Deputy McHugh urged the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to take his proposal to the next level.
He told the minister:“Donegal, Derry and Tyrone are afflicted by criminals who move through our counties, and anything that can be done to help the Gardaí and the PSNI in their work will be beneficial.”
Responding, Minister Shatter said: “I support any co-operative structure that might provide added value and facilitate co-operation in policing matters between North and South.
“There is now a far more sophisticated and deeper engagement between the Garda Síochána and the PSNI than would have been the case in the 1980s.
“We also have local policing committees, which can make an input into these issues.
“I am happy to consider the Deputy’s suggestion.”