Garda strength lags again

An Garda Siochana
An Garda Siochana

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed there are only 68 Gardaí covering Inishowen’s 550 square miles as Donegal’s overall police complement continues to fall.

Mrs Fitzegerald confirmed there are now just 384 Gardaí assigned to stations in the Donegal Division.

That’s down from 392 last year and from 466 back in 2010.

The Tánaiste released the details to local Fianna Fáil, TD, Charlie McConalogue during a period of considerable tension between the Government, An Garda Síochána and the Garda Representative Association.

“The Garda strength of the Donegal Division, on October 31, 2016, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 384.

“There are also 22 Garda Reserves and 31 civilians attached to the Division.

“When appropriate, the work of local Gardaí is supported by a number of Garda national units such as the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (formerly the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation) and the Garda National Drugs and Organise Crime Bureau,” she explained.

The Tánaiste said 14 newly-attested Gardaí, fresh from Templemore, were recently assigned to Donegal.

“I am informed by the Garda Commissioner [Nóirín O’Sullivan] that since the reopening of the Garda College, 679 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide and that 14 of these probationer Garda have been assigned to the Donegal Division,” she said.

The bald figures for Garda strength in Inishowen are stark.

While there were 46 stationed at HQ in Buncrana, there were only eight in Carndonagh, five in both Burnfoot and Moville, three in Muff and one in Clonmany.

Of the local Letterkenny District stations, there were only three in Carrigans, two in both Newtowncunningham and Raphoe and one in Convoy.

Mrs Fitzgerald said: “This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and deter crime.

“To make this a reality for all, the Government has in place a plan to achieve an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians. In 2017, funding has been provided for the recruitment of 800 Garda recruits and up to 500 civilians to support the wide ranging reform plan in train in An Garda Síochána. Appointments will also be made to the Garda Reserve of approximately 300.”