SIR – It is now seen as a poor decision by the government to close 100 small garda stations in rural Ireland and towns to make our police force more cost-efficient and streamlined. It was not foreseen, in spite of warnings, how this may lead to an escalation of break-ins in vulnerable rural areas and towns, where criminals believe there is no garda presence and take full advantage; communities which never had this crime before or rarely.
The Text Alert with An Garda Siochana in rural Ireland is popular and brings people together to be on the alert for their neighbours. The gangs, nevertheless, have caused such anger, that this month 1,500 people attended a ‘Save Our Community’ meeting in Thurles, Co Tipperary, and for hours told of break-ins.
One long-time Tipperary solicitor said one effective change would be bail laws to be more rigorously enforced and the crime rate would drop dramatically. Other suggestions were electronic tagging of (burglary) suspects on bail and stronger trespass laws. Politicians present were asked to really listen.
County Sligo’s largest town (Tubbercurry) was hit by a crime wave recently with homes and shops broken into and the local school vandalised. Their local representative asked before for their part-time Garda station to be full-time.
It is never too late for a government to reverse a decision and, during the general election campaign, the government parties will hear for themselves on their canvasses how serious it is. What those concerned have found, and are quite frustrated about, is how no one in power makes the decisions needed.
Governments can lose sight as to why people vote them in. It is not to make things far worse needlessly for people like the decision to reduce garda stations in vulnerable areas.
The crime statistics for last year report of 600 burglaries every month by people on bail. This would indicate that the Criminal Court Judges, the Chief Justice, the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner and their top officials need to have a joint discussion on such flaws in the system.
Those at the Thurles meeting spoke for a lot of us who would like our country to be a safer place for everyone from criminal gangs.